Vanport International is one of the few Northwest companies that has mastered milling lumber to Japan's exacting metric specifications.
Destruction from last year's tsunami means more than 300,000 houses need to be repaired or replaced.
The company, guided by its soft-spoken chairman, German native Adolf Hertrich, has cultivated extraordinary ties in a nation that has often frustrated conventional U.S. exporters. These links helped the Boring-based company survive more than one near-fatal predicament. As competing mills tanked, Vanport morphed to build on its Japan business and forge new cross-cultural ties, most recently rescuing the mill at the Warm Springs Indian Reservation outside Madras.
They aim for quality instead of quantity. They cut the best part of each log for Japan, sending the rest to China, Taiwan or the domestic market. And they pay particular attention to the appearance of beams, which are often left exposed in Japanese homes.
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