Generation next

Generation next

// Photo by Adam Bacher

Those broom handles and rat traps may never get made, but that’s beside the point. The point is that 72-year-old Diebold Lumber isn’t just cutting wood and letting the excess fall where it may. It’s remade itself as the kind of lean, efficient manufacturer that knows every small savings and every small increase in margin is critical.

Lawson, a successful lawyer, met Patrick at Patrick’s youngest daughter’s wedding. He was the best man. Lawson later did some information technology work for Diebold, went off to law school and eventually found his way back as vice president of sales.

Patrick says Lawson has brought more of a sales focus to Diebold. “They’ve never had to sell themselves,” Lawson says. “The customers always found them by reputation.” He’s attending trade shows and keeping his ears open for any opportunity.

Another new initiative launched by Lawson and Patrick is a board of advisers made up of veteran business people from within and without the wood products industry. These are all people Lawson has connections with, and they come together regularly to brainstorm ideas and solve problems for Diebold. Patrick calls them “the gray-haired board of advisers.”

Lawson hopes all these efforts are pointing toward a big payoff. He and Patrick are working on a deal that could see a company bring its re-manufacturing work to Diebold instead of  China. That would prove there is plenty of room for innovation in Oregon’s oldest industry.