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Retirement Reflections: Catching Up with Ang Schramm

Retirement Reflections: Catching Up with Ang Schramm

  • November 16, 2023
  • by Columbia Forest Products

Many at Columbia Forest Products or within the industry may already be familiar with Ang Schramm from his book A Complete Guide to Hardwood Plywood and Face Veneer it’s required reading for anyone seeking a better understanding of plywood. 

Many more will remember him from the 45 years he spent working with and teaching the next generation about an industry he has come to love. Nearly eight years after retirement, we decided to catch up with Ang to see what he’s been up to and get his reflections on his time at CFP.

How has retirement been treating you?

I still feel like I work every day, but the work is a lot more physical now. I have a 20-acre farm in Alabama where my closest neighbor is ¼ mile away. Even though it takes work to keep it up, I like to call it my “piece of Heaven.”

Any exciting plans for the next few years?

My wife is three times retired and just can’t seem to stop working. She likes to travel while I’m typically more of a homebody, but since it’ll be with her, I’m looking forward to our future travels. I also plan to keep improving the farm. I want to make it my little cut of Heaven and have everyone who comes out to enjoy it with me leave jealous.

Why did you stay with CFP for so many years?

Prior to starting at Columbia, I had 10 years of experience in the industry as a competitor to Columbia! It was in those interactions and competition that I saw the type of people that work at Columbia. I’d met with plenty of manufacturers, almost all of which were good manufacturers with good people. However, none had the opinion of the business and the integrity of the folks I met at Columbia. 

The way those guys did business, even while in competition, assured me my transition to CFP would be smooth. In fact, it was almost as stress-free as a career change could have been. From then on, it was the quality of the work environment and belief in the product we make. We make some of the finest hardwood plywood out there. There are others doing it, but I haven’t seen anyone do it half as well.

What advice would you give to new CFP employees?

Learn as much as you can about the business and then learn about the product and production process. Especially for those in or looking toward leadership positions, it’s essential to know what you’re talking about. Respect is only earned by working closely with people. 

Sometimes that’s hard to do, but the more effort you put into understanding what someone does, the more likely they’ll be to trust you. Also, when working with distributors or partners, keep in mind the hardest thing a person can do is convince someone of the truth after they’ve been made to believe a lie. Get to them and educate them on our product quickly and correctly. 

What’s something cool going on at the farm?

Back in 2018, I planted rows of longleaf pine trees, which are growing nicely. These are a type of southern yellow pine that were traditionally tapped for turpentine and extracts used in ships to prevent leaks. Recently, their population has been a concern, but now there are a few more on my land.

They grow in phases and not all together — some of my trees don’t even look like trees yet. Others are in the “rocket” stage and are shooting up to 8 to 10 feet tall. Oddly enough, some of those in the “rocket” stage really do look like Alabama missiles out in the field! In 25 to 30 more years, they’ll be mature, harvestable trees.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell CFP’s family and friends?

To this day, I still call our plywood, our plywood. When I cut myself, I still bleed sawdust. Retiring doesn’t mean you leave the CFP family, and I’d encourage anyone to reach out to me if they need anything or just want to chat.  (Ang’s email address:  cangschramm@gmail.com )