Sponsored by Oregon Business

A small window into Jeld-Wen

| Print |  Email
Friday, August 01, 2008

PORTLAND Rod Wendt, CEO and president of Klamath Falls’ famously media-averse Jeld-Wen, was in Portland in mid-July for the opening of a showroom on the second floor of the US Bancorp tower. It was 5 p.m. and several dozen people with wine glasses wandered through the window and door displays. Wendt stood to one side shaking hands with people and chatting with Ron Saxton, a Jeld-Wen senior VP  and one-time Republican gubernatorial candidate.

At 54, Wendt has a shiny dome and a ring of graying hair around his head, and is tall, fit and tan. He looked relaxed for someone who’s the top executive of a $3.16 billion company (as estimated by Forbes magazine) that depends on the success of the housing industry for its survival.

The Wendt family has always kept Jeld-Wen out of the spotlight. Rod’s father, Richard, founded the company in 1960, but the nation’s business community knew little about Jeld-Wen as it grew to be one of the largest door and window manufacturers in the world. Rod graduated from Stanford and joined the company in 1980. By 1992 he was president and in 2003 took over the mantle of CEO from his father, who had held the position for 43 years.

The company’s reticence toward the media remained intact this evening. As we approached Saxton and Wendt, Saxton stepped to one side and waved over two members of the company’s PR team. Wendt appeared unfazed as the two women gently inserted themselves into the group. He continued talking candidly about the company and its plans: Expanding Jeld-Wen’s market into China and India will happen in the future, but not until there’s more consistency in building standards, he says. The company’s multiple resorts are incorporating more commercial projects as a way to offset the down real estate market. Jeld-Wen also is increasing its commercial work as a way to buoy its lagging residential window and door manufacturing.

Wendt was both relaxed and pragmatic as he talked. At one point he used the word “terrible” when describing the state of the real estate market. “I could have used a different word, but I don’t use words like that,” he said, leaning forward and raising his eyebrows.

Three minutes after the conversation began, it was over. What had been essentially idle chatter felt like a journalistic triumph. After handshakes with the men, we joined the crowd as it wandered around, looking through windows and doors that opened onto showroom walls.              

ABRAHAM HYATT


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

Comments   

 
Joe
-1 #1 truthJoe 2011-01-09 19:35:19
Jeld-Wen are crooks and treat their employees like dirt don't be impressed. They even use illegals. They keep a low profile don't all crooks?
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
John
+1 #2 truthJohn 2011-01-11 00:41:49
Hey Joe,
Just curious where all the illegals are. I'm sure INS would appreciate the tip.
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

100 Best: The Power of the Worker

March 2015
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR
AND AMY MILSHTEIN | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Technology is empowering people like never before and transforming how employees interact in the workplace. How can companies attract and keep staff engaged in this rapidly changing world?


Read more...

The 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon

March 2015
Thursday, February 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

Employment in Oregon is almost back up to prerecession levels — and employers are having to work harder to entice talented staff to join their ranks. This year’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon project showcases the kind of quality workplaces that foster happy employees. 


Read more...

Letting Go

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

As baby boomers sell their businesses, too many forget the all-important succession plan.


Read more...

Courtside

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Power lunching at the Court Street Dairy Lunch in Salem.


Read more...

10 Oregon companies positioning themselves for growth

The Latest
Friday, March 13, 2015
vcthumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Ten startups have secured venture capital, angel or seed funding in 2015.


Read more...

Where do Portland demographics rank among the largest 50 cities in the US?

The Latest
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
thumbpdxinperspectiveBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

The Portland in Perspective study, done by the City Budget Office, was released Tuesday.


Read more...

On the Brink

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY APRIL STREETER | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Leslie Carlson channels the big idea.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS