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September 2022 Message From Our CEO

September 2022 Message From Our CEO

  • August 11, 2022
  • by Greg Pray, President and CEO

With the challenging conditions we’re constantly anticipating and adjusting to, the pace of the hardwood plywood business in 2022 sometimes makes you think about the “kindler, gentler, good old days.”

On this note, we’ve been reflecting on a major milestone for Columbia Forest Products, the 40th Anniversary of our Old Fort, NC mill.

It’s quite something to work in or help manage a dynamic facility like Old Fort on a daily basis, and another when you step back and realize the impact a place like Old Fort has on our company, our industry and our customers.

But looking back further and understanding the situations the Columbia team was facing in the late 1970’s really makes you appreciate the kind of guts and commitment they put on the line when they decided to make a go of using Yellow Poplar as a core material in a brand-new hardwood plywood mill on the East Coast!

We were already an employee-owned ESOP company, but still just making hardwood plywood in one mill (Klamath Falls, OR). It was truly betting everyone’s fortune on an idea that had never been attempted.

Back Row: Tom Moore, Henry Stromer, Phyllis Robinson, Rick Nelson
Front Row: Jim Sitts, Bob Rodier, Aaron Abts

To this day, we are all in constant appreciation for the courage, planning, execution and passion displayed by those who went before us at Columbia Forest Products and for the years of business our customers elected to send our way.

We are grateful that we’ve been able to manage the turbulence of the last 40 years — especially the last two — and are in a strong position to serve our customers’ needs in even better ways going forward.

The outlook for our markets is looking strong (see Nick’s article about our view on this) but there’s no doubt that importers from all over the globe will continue to keep North America in their sights as a place to offload whatever they can glue together and call plywood.

Columbia Forest Products will continue to offer the “most value on a truck” from Old Fort and all our mills, from straight runs of Maple to incredibly customized mixed lots of specialties and value-added treatments.

Behind the scenes, Columbia is investing in new technology to help us source, make and ship our products even better and to connect us more effectively with our customers.

Thank you again for your business (if you’re a customer), your time and talents (if you’re an employee-owner) and your service (if you’re a supplier). 

Our collective journey will only get more interesting — and rewarding — in the time ahead.


Greg Pray

President and CEO

Columbia Forest Products


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