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Articles - April 2012
Thursday, March 22, 2012
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// Photos by Adam Bacher

To that end, Lawson and Patrick have every one of the 40-some employees — they would like to double the employee count — attending regular meetings to discuss ways to operate more efficiently. Mill employees evaluate the kiln operations, and vice versa. No item is too small to consider. For example, a recent idea that’s paying dividends called for doing a better job sweeping up nails to cut down time spent repairing fork lift tires, which is a much more cumbersome job than changing a flat on a car, Lawson says.

Diebold is what’s called a custom re-manufacturer. That means Diebold doesn’t own the lumber stacked up around its 17-acre Troutdale facility. The lumber is owned by a mill or third-party vendor who has a contract with an end user for lumber cut to particular dimensions. Diebold does the cutting and also can dry the wood in one of its state-of-the-art kilns, or it can just dry the wood if that’s what the client wants.

“They know what to do once the wood gets here,” says Jim Rodway, president of Portland-based Patrick Lumber and a 25-year Diebold customer. “We don’t want to own a manufacturing facility. We’re good at marketing, and they’re good at manufacturing.

Diebold produces a consistent, quality product that makes Patrick Lumber’s clients happy and allows Patrick Lumber to maintain an edge in a tough business.

Every bit of margin eked out of a job is precious, Lawson says. That’s why Lawson and Patrick are spending time finding a market for left over chunks of four-by-fours. One idea floating around is using the excess lumber to make broom handles and then using that excess for rat-trap components. If Diebold can bring the lumber owner together with a prospective broom-handle buyer, then Diebold and its customer both stand to make a little extra money. If Diebold can then sell the scrap left over from the broom handles to a rat-trap maker, then everyone makes even a little more money. As an added bonus, Diebold gets new customers who appreciate its hard work and innovative thinking.



 

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Editor's Letter: Power Play

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014

There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:

Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace. 

Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.

This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay. 

Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.

New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”

That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!

— Linda


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