Home Archives January 2008 Former L-P CEO authors book about 'Mama'

Former L-P CEO authors book about 'Mama'

| Print |  Email
Tuesday, January 01, 2008

VintageMerlo.jpgI remember Mama

HARRY A. MERLO, the legendary (at least in Oregon) and controversial former chairman and CEO of Louisiana-Pacific Corp., has steadfastly kept his privacy since he was fired from the giant wood-products company in 1995. Since then, as head of the Merlo Corporation, he’s continued to work globally in the forest industry, oversee his charitable foundation, and operate his California winery. All apparently without much need or desire for any more time in the media spotlight.

So it would take something much more important than business to draw out this lion in winter on a foggy, chilly November day at his office at Global Aviation in Hillsboro, and it is this: The 82-year-old Merlo has authored a book. Not about business, though it has plenty of that in it. And not about his high-profile ouster after 22 years with L-P, following the company being hit with lawsuits over defective house siding and a federal criminal indictment over environmental law violations.

“It is not about L-P,” says Merlo, cutting off any questions about the past. “It is about a great woman. I wrote the book for Mama.”

Vintage Merlo,” co-authored with Kerry Tymchuk, the state director for Pendleton Republican Sen. Gordon Smith, is dedicated “To Mama, who made it all possible,” and indeed, the 150-page book begins with Merlo’s Italian immigrant parents and never lets go of how the hard work and love of his mother nourished and inspired him. There is also his abusive father, growing up dirt poor (so poor that “Dad took us to the graveyard every Christmas Eve to show us where Santa Claus was buried,” his brother jokes in the book), his career in the timber industry (the end of his L-P tenure is described simply as: “On July 31, 1995, L-P and I parted company”), and the famous people he met along the way (Maya Angelou, Malcolm Forbes).

HarryMerlo.jpg
Harry Merlo in his Hillsboro office framed by a picture of his Mama and father.

“It’s the mother of all Horatio Alger stories,” says Tymchuk (in fact, Merlo is a member of the Horatio Alger Association). Tymchuk also has collaborated with Smith on Remembering Garrett, about the suicide of the senator’s 22-year-old son, and partnered with Bob and Elizabeth Dole on five books. But it was his collaboration with Columbia Sportswear’s Gert Boyle on her book, One Tough Mother, that caught Merlo’s attention. Tymchuk interviewed Merlo over the course of a year to write the book. A few thousands copies are being published this month by the Merlo Foundation.

Behind Merlo’s desk is a large painting of his mother and father from 1923. Clotilde Merlo died at age 69, when Harry was 44. In the book, he talks about how after she died, he caught himself wanting to pick up the phone to call and tell her something. It is a testament to the universal power of mothers that even now when talking about her, he is reverent, emotional.

“I never felt poverty because of her work,” Merlo says, the memory softening his voice. And it is unlikely that had she lived to see the considerable wealth and influence he has amassed that it would matter to her. “She wasn’t impressed by financial wealth,” he says. There are many pages devoted to “Merlo’s Maxims on Leadership,” which are infused with his mother’s influence. Including, “If you never share a dollar, you will never share a million.”

Merlo’s story ends with an ancient, ageless expression of love from mother to child, and now from child to mother. It ends with Mama’s favorites recipes.                 

ROBIN DOUSSARD


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

 

More Articles

Fly Zone

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JOE ROJAS-BURKE

The black soldier fly’s larvae are among the most ravenous and least picky eaters on earth.


Read more...

Gone Girl

News
Monday, September 29, 2014
roundup-logo-thumb-14BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Wehby disappears, Kitzhaber fails to disclose and Seattle gets bike share before Portland.


Read more...

A Recipe for Success

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Two businesswomen, two iconic food brands and one food-obsessed city. We thought this sounded like a recipe for good conversation. So in late August, Oregon Business sat down with Wendy Collie, CEO of New Seasons Market, and Kim Malek, owner of Salt & Straw, to discuss their rapidly expanding businesses and Oregon’s trendsetting food scene.


Read more...

October surprise

News
Sunday, October 12, 2014
roundup-logo-thumb-14BY LINDA BAKER

Cylvia Hayes, tabloid vs. watchdog journalism and the looming threat of a Cascadia earthquake.


Read more...

100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon [VIDEO]

News
Thursday, October 02, 2014

Screen shot 2014-10-02 at 11.17.21 AMMore than 5,500 employees from 180 organizations throughout the state participated in the 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon project.


Read more...

The Rail Baron

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Oil is gushing out of the U.S. and Canada, and much of it is coming from places that don’t have pipeline infrastructure. So it’s being shipped by rail.


Read more...

Powerlist: Law Firms

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with leading partners at law firms in Portland and eastern Oregon, followed by October's powerlist.


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