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

Corner Office: Timothy Mitchell

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

A look-in on the life of Norris & Stevens' president.


Read more...

The short list: Holiday habits of six Oregon CEOs

The Latest
Thursday, December 11, 2014
121214-xmaslist1BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

We ask business and nonprofit leaders how they survive the season.


Read more...

Tackling the CEO-worker pay gap

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014
BY OREGON BUSINESS STAFF

An SEC rule targets the disparity between executive and employee compensation, reigniting a long-standing debate about corporate social responsibility.


Read more...

Crowdfunding 2.0

News
Tuesday, December 02, 2014
120214-crowdfund-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

A conversation with attorney Erich Merrill about the latest way to raise money from large groups of people.


Read more...

Healthcare pullback

News
Thursday, November 20, 2014
112014-boehnercare-thumbBY JASON NORRIS | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Each month for Oregon Business, we assess factors that are shaping current capital market activity—and what they mean to investors. Here we take a look at two major developments regarding possible rollbacks of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).


Read more...

The clean fuels opportunity

News
Monday, November 10, 2014
111014-dirtyfuel-thumbBY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

A market for low-carbon transportation fuels has a chance to flourish in Oregon if regulators adopt the second phase of the state’s Clean Fuels Program.


Read more...

The short list: 5 companies making a mint off kale

The Latest
Thursday, November 20, 2014
kale-thumbnailBY OB STAFF

Farmers, grocery stores and food processors cash in on kale.


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