Generation next

Generation next

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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.