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Meet Fred Mitchell: A Journey of Growth, Leadership and Family at CFP

Meet Fred Mitchell: A Journey of Growth, Leadership and Family at CFP

  • February 19, 2024
  • by Fred Mitchell

Fred Mitchell started with Columbia Forest Products on May 19, 1997, when he was only 23 years old. During his final year studying Wood Science and Business Administration at North Carolina State University, a professor encouraged him to start looking for job prospects and attend a career fair.

It was there that Fred interviewed for, and received job offers from, three of North America’s largest wood products manufactures, including Columbia. He accepted Columbia’s offer because: “Even back then, I felt a sense of family and saw the opportunity to learn, with hopes of one day to teach, and make a difference.”

Fred recalls starting out as a Management Trainee at Chatham, where he was tasked with observing and improving many pieces of the production process. This is a common practice for anyone at Columbia on a pathway towards leadership. “If you want to really learn the process, you’ve got to be immersed in it,” Fred said. 

Currently, Fred holds the title of Value Stream Manager – Materials.  In this role, he and his team work diligently with raw material suppliers and our sales and production teams, ensuring that the raw material that CFP uses daily meets and exceeds the quality standards, ensuring that it meets our customers’ needs.

Over the years, Fred has worked closely with management and many other vital teams within CFP.   He quickly learned that every part of the business is interconnected, and communication is a necessity. He is proud to have helped cultivate the relationships Columbia has with its vendors so they’re more than just raw materials providers. “We want our vendors to feel and be treated like members of the extended Columbia family, because our success relies on theirs and vice-versa,” he said.

“I really want to pour knowledge into the next generation, I’ve seen a lot and been taught a lot. I want to give the next generation information that they can use.” he said of his future at Columbia.

With this in mind, Fred will be hosting an upcoming video series on hardwood plywood face species. Columbia Forest Products hopes this series will help everyone learn something new about plywood from a verified expert.

“I also want to thank all my mentors. I look forward to being a positive force towards the continuing success of CFP. I hope others will see me as a resource and a voice for innovation at CFP,” Fred reflected.

He also wants to encourage new employees and industry veterans to be open-minded: “No matter how many years you’ve been here there’s always a new way to do something.”

Fred has been happily married to his wife Tiffany for 25 years and they have two children: 18-year-old Shailyn, who is attending NC State University for Media Art & Design Technology and 13-year-old Xavier. As a family, they love to spend time together and go on vacations.  Fred also enjoys being a volunteer EMT, is active in his church, and has a large comic book collection.