The Company - History
The First Generation
Truman Doud Collins, better known as T.D. or Teddy Collins, was born in Cortlandville, New York on March 7, 1831. His parents were Jabez Collins and Adaline Doud Collins. He was nine years old when his parents moved from the village of Cortlandville to a small farm nearby. Teddy was one of six children, two boys and four girls, and his youth was full of stories and myths. Some say he was plowing a furrow at eight, although that seems a bit far fetched, as he was still living in the village of Cortlandville. Some say he was in poor health as a child, but as that began to improve, he was able to complete a course of study in the Cortland Academy. And some tell the story of a young entrepreneur who was earning money by traveling to neighboring farms buying butter, eggs, and farm produce and shipping them to a buyer in New York City. Whatever the truth may be, Teddy Collins grew into a man with enough gumption, guts, and God-fearing to build what became known as the "Teddy Collins Empire."
Before all the "empire building" began, Teddy left the family farm in Cortland, and with the help of a local judge, took a job with the engineer corps constructing the Binghampton and Syracuse Railroad. It was 1851, he was 20 years old, and he started out driving stakes for the survey. With a natural talent for mathematics and engineering, Teddy was soon running a transit line. Within three years, he became an engineer of a division in Broome County. For most men in 1854, that would have been a plenty good start to a lifetime of railroading, but Teddy Collins was not "most men."
Collins employees pause before the Salmon Creek
lumber Co. in Nebraska, Pennsylvania. Note the
decorative cupola atop the mill.
Teddy left railroading for the dense forests of northwestern Pennsylvania, specifically the Tionesta Valley. With his brother, Joseph Van Halen (J.V.) Collins, and friends John B. Rodgers, Langley Fullager, and J. Scovil Walker, the five ended up in Hickory, Pennsylvania, located on the Allegheny River. They all took jobs as laborers in the woods at 60 cents a day, twelve hours a day.
By July 28, 1855, Teddy had saved enough money, probably from his railroad work and the meager amount he made in the woods, to join his brother and the other three in a partnership to buy John Alexander's steam mill and timber at Turkey Run near Whig Hill, Pennsylvania. The land held the giant hemlock, thought to be useless as lumber, but whose bark was valued by tanners. It also held white pine, the "King of Kings," the source of the mighty ship masts of the great British fleet. The five scrabbled together $3,000 as a down payment, with a mortgage of $17,000 to be paid in three years. On July 28, 1858, three years later, they paid the remaining $17,000 to John Alexander. Teddy's first deal was done.
Nine years after his first mortgage at Turkey Run, Teddy bought out Rodgers, Scovil, and Fullager, and with his brother, J.V. Collins, held full title to the original 1,480 acres and mill at Turkey Run. That was November 25, 1864. But even before that deal was completed, Teddy had extended his operations over to Beaver Valley, Pennsylvania, where in 1860, he bought an interest, along with Sanford S. Holbrook, in a sawmill, grist mill, and store.
Before Teddy Collins died in 1914, he would own, along with others, a handful of sawmills in the Tionesta Valley, including: Nebraska (originally called Lacy's Mill), Beaver Valley, Pine Hollow, Bucks Mill, Old Salmon Creek Mill, New Salmon Creek Mill, and the Mayburg Mill. Add to that mix the Tionesta Manufacturing Company, the Nebraska Box Mill, the Mayburg Chemical Plant, and the Clough Lands in Pennsylvania; timberland in Tehema and Plumas Counties, California, (known as the Curtis, Collins & Holbrook lands); redwood property in California; and timberlands and mills in Washington and timber in Oregon.
The Heisler locomotive #4 worked its days
for Collins' Salmon Creek Lumber Company.
But a man couldn't run all these timber operations in the late 1800s, early 1900s without the rails. The creeks and rivers that used to be jammed with timber gave way to the rails. And there was no doubt that railroads were in Teddy's blood. He had started out by driving stakes for the Binghampton and Syracuse Railroad, and by the end of his life, he owned over 100 miles of logging railroad, 41 miles of main line, and 25 locomotives.
For a man with the gumption of a Teddy Collins, timber, mills, and railroads were not quite enough. There was oil. Now oil could have been Teddy's unmaking. It certainly was a temptation that many a man succumbed to and from which few made a fortune. In Teddy's time, Pennsylvania was virtually floating in undiscovered oil. But Teddy was a tree man. He liked the possibilities of what was on top of the ground, and while he would invest in oil most of his life, it was always secondary to trees.
Colonel Edwin L. Drake was the first to discover a major oil field in Pennsylvania in 1859. By April 7, 1860, Teddy and J.V. were leasing their first oil lands, 38-acres from one Nancy Griffin. It was located along the Allegheny River near President, Pennsylvania. The lease turned into a purchase of the land, but the Collins boys came up pretty empty-handed. No oil was ever found on the property, but that didn't stop them from looking for more.
Teddy and J.V. shifted their oil interests to Walnut Bend, also along the Allegheny River. There they built and operated a small oil refinery. By 1865, Teddy sold his share of the land and refinery to the Collins Oil Company of Syracuse, New York for $100,000. The oil company was now owned by six men, one of whom was J.V. Collins. That didn't mean Teddy was through with oil. As late as May 19, 1892, he and a partner, Orion Siggins, purchased what became known as the Cook Oil Lease lands in Pennsylvania.
If you met Teddy Collins, you could have easily mistaken him for a woodsman. He was a small man with chin whiskers, most often seen around in a blue work shirt, slouch hat, and frayed jeans that had brushed by too many trees and were punched unevenly into his old leather boots. He seemed to have one other dress option, and that was a frock coat with tails and the same old leather boots and old slouch hat. He was known around Tionesta, Kellettville, and Nebraska, Pennsylvania as the man who talked about this and that to his cart horse, McGinty, in between singing good old Methodist hymns day after day, year after year, even horse after horse. "Well, McGinty, what 'ya think about buyin' that piece down by the river?"
When cars came into fashion in the early 1900s, he stuck with McGinty and his two-wheeled cart. And when he spoke or wrote in his journals, he referred to himself in the third person as "T.D." He was a bit crusty and frugal. And while he became a millionaire lumberman whose holdings would eventually make him the largest private landowner in Pennsylvania, he was at his core "simple in garb, simple in manner, simple in heart, and cordially impatient with inefficiency." He worked his whole life as if every hour counted and it was his job to use every last one of them. Perhaps his wife, Mary Stanton, summed him up best: "I have long realized Teddy Collins can never be really happy until he owns every pine tree there is to buy."
Teddy Collins may have been a man driven to own every pine tree in Pennsylvania, with a little oil and some railroads thrown in for good measure, but he was also a man smitten with a red-haired school teacher by the name of Mary Stanton. Now while he may have been smitten, she was not. So he pursued her. And she avoided him. But by April 26, 1864, all that pursuing and all that avoiding came to an end when they were married in Freedom, Pennsylvania. Mary was a devout Methodist and Teddy was soon to follow, both of them adhering to a rigid lifestyle that defined not only their lives, but the lives of generations to follow.
Everell Stanton Collins
Teddy and Mary had one son, Everell (E.S.) Stanton Collins, born March 30, 1866 in Cortland, New York - Teddy's old hometown. Mary had convinced Teddy that they had more than enough money and it was time to retire to Cortland, where their son could be born and they could live among Teddy's family. That idea lasted just long enough for Everell to claim Cortland as his birthplace, but not much longer, because within a year, 1867, they had returned to Beaver Valley, Pennsylvania. It wasn't the money calling Teddy, it was the trees.
Now, if folks thought that E.S. (Everell) Collins, the son of this millionaire, was going to grow up spoiled in the luxuries wealth can provide, they didn't really know Teddy Collins. E.S. grew up spending days, weeks, and months at nine and ten years old packing shingles for 34 cents an hour. This was no childhood of easy money, maids, and private education. There was no traveling abroad with nannies, tutors, and toys. He didn't dine with silver, he wasn't waited on by servants, and he was never once seduced by a sense of privilege and class. E.S. grew up a serious man, some even called him taciturn, and his life was so far from soft that it probably ended up killing him. His father, Teddy, was an inflexible, relentless, strong-willed father who could have broken a lesser man, but he didn't break his son. It wasn't for lack of trying. No child of Teddy Collins' was going to be spoiled.
Everell's early years were spent in Beaver Valley, Pennsylvania, but by 1882, Teddy moved his family to Nebraska, Pennsylvania. It was here that Teddy and Mary would live until their deaths. Mary died on October 28, 1908 and was followed six years later by Teddy Collins, who died April 15, 1914.
There were a number of things that characterized the career of T.D. Collins. He freely engaged in partnerships to take advantage of investment opportunities, often buying out his partners over time. He got in on the forefront of new developments. Those included the discovery of oil, the advent of the steam locomotive, the change from circle saws to band saws, and the development of new markets for a wide range of forest products. He was also innovative in improving operations and adapting them for specialty markets. And last, but not least, he saw the value in land ownership.
Teddy Collins may have built himself an empire, but what he really built and what he really left for future generations was a set of values. Very few family-owned businesses of wealth are intact and functioning into the fifth generation. What Teddy Collins and his wife, Mary, bequeathed were the tools for that survival. It was characterized by an integrity of spirit - to do the right thing; a belief in self-discipline - to work hard and live simply; a respect for those who labor with and for you; an unshakable conviction that thrift is a prized value; a resolve to be scrupulously honest in all your affairs; and a sense of gratitude to God - that if you've been given more, then more is expected of you.
The Second Generation
E.S. Collins used his surveying skills to lay
out roads and rail lines in both
Pennsylavania and Washington
Everell Stanton (E.S.) Collins
While E.S. Collins spent his early days in the woods of Pennsylvania, it was in the West where he grew into being his own forester and his own man. The growing part wasn't easy. His daddy, Teddy Collins, may have been small in size, but he threw a plenty big shadow. Teddy expected much of E.S., demanded more, and was never able to truly appreciate his son's talents and innovations. To E.S.'s credit, none of that stopped him from becoming a highly successful timberman in his own right.
As a boy and a young man, E.S. worked in his father's mills and forests in the Tionesta Valley of Pennsylvania. At thirteen, he'd already spent winters in sub-zero temperatures hauling timbers out of frozen creeks. At fifteen, he was working in the mill jacking logs and edging. By eighteen, he was running the mill. In between, he'd taught himself the skills of an engineer and patented a pocketful of sawmill inventions.
His formal education included the school in Beaver Valley, Pennsylvania, then onto Carrier Seminary in Clarion, Pennsylvania, and finally, one year at Allegheny College. That one year came to an abrupt end when he had to withdraw because of chronic coughs and colds referred to then as consumption. When he wasn't working in the mill, the forest, or going to school, he was avidly attending services in the Methodist Church and taking in revival meetings that came through the area. There was, of course, always time to be a boy - hunting squirrels, ducks, grouse, woodchucks, and rattlesnakes; fishing for trout; cutting beehives from trees; hiking, swimming, and berry picking.
Simply said, E.S.'s young years boiled down to school, church, fun, and work, then more work, and more work. Then there was God: he trusted in God.
Go West Young Man
In 1887, railroads were crisscrossing the country, the gold rush was in full swing, and all eyes looking for the holy grail of wealth turned westward. But it wasn't wealth E.S. was hankering for. He wanted to make his own way in the world, so when two of Teddy Collins' partners, William Dickey and E.H. Darrah, said they were heading to California and Mexico to look for gold, E.S. figured he'd go, too. That, of course, stirred Teddy's interest, and before long, E.S. and Teddy were catching up with Dickey and Darrah in San Diego. Not to be left behind if riches were at stake was Teddy's brother, J.V. Collins, who joined them all in San Diego. In fact, he not only joined them, but very soon after, moved his family from Oil City, Pennsylvania to San Diego.
"The Tia Juana Valley in Mexico is the gold property Dickey and Darrah expect to get, and father is to have 1/3 interest in it." -E.S. Collins Diary
Long days hiking through the Tia Juana Valley looking for placer mines turned up little but a few nuggets. In place of gold, Teddy and E.S. bought several lots in Coronado Beach and returned to Pennsylvania. J.V. and his family stayed in San Diego.
But California had gotten under E.S.'s skin, and the thought of independence pushed him to suggest that maybe he should return to California to settle his father's land claims. When he returned to California, the itch to stay took hold, and before he'd thought it through, he was applying for a job in the San Diego City Engineer's office as a transitman. No luck. Maybe a job in the County Surveyor's office? No, again. Determined to stay, he bought 40 barren Mexican acres and decided he would homestead. Fighting through colds and diarrhea, he single-handedly laid the foundation, built the walls and floors, and nearly completed the whole project when his parents, Teddy and Mary, arrived and talked him into coming back to Pennsylvania.
"You can run the mill, have the winters to yourself, a week or so off at almost any time, and no hard work on the water." -Teddy Collins
To a man who had spent the last month in a constant state of diarrhea and exhaustion, the offer sounded fair.
"Father gave me a check for $500, which is the amount he said he would give me for my claim if I would go home and let Joseph's (J.V. Collins) son, Jabez, take the claim, my ranch." -E.S. Collins
Well, it wasn't exactly a ranch yet. More like half a house in the middle of nowhere, but it was a start - his start. The trouble was, he was too sick to hold out. E.S. relented, tucked his dreams in his trunk for another day, and headed back to Pennsylvania. But on the way home, Teddy, Mary, and E.S. made one short stop - a short stop that changed one man's life.
The mill E.S. had built in Ostrander, Washington,
produced some of the world's largest timbers.
(Photo circa 1926)
It was March 20, 1888, and their train bound for the East stopped in Portland, Oregon. Mary decided to stay in Portland while Teddy and E.S. made a quick side trip to Cowlitz County, Washington to visit old friends and business associates from Pennsylvania, Aaron Root and his colony. Root and his family had come west to tackle the tall timber. They settled in Ostrander, Washington, named for Abel Ostrander and his son, Dr. Nathanial Ostrander. That place changed Everell Stanton Collins' life forever. But first he would have to return to the woods of Pennsylvania.
Two Years Later
On January 2, 1890, a telegram arrived for Teddy Collins in Pennsylvania saying, "Aaron Root, Sr. is laid up and feeling poorly." It's unclear what arrangement existed between Aaron Root, Sr. and Teddy Collins, but there is speculation that Teddy, on his "stop-off visit" to Ostrander, may have invested in Root's operation. Whatever the reason, Teddy immediately sent E.S. to help out in Ostrander.
Home Sweet Home
When E.S. Collins left for Ostrander, he had $2,000 to his name, was 24 years old, and drew a salary from Teddy. No mill existed in Ostrander when E.S. arrived. By 1889, he had hired Grant Watson to build the first sawmill, and by 1893-94, E.S. had built a hotel; by 1895, a Methodist Church and parsonage; and by 1905, a combination two-room elementary school and community hall. The operation became known as Ostrander Railway & Timber Company (ORT), which incorporated in 1896. The ORT was the third logging railroad in the Northwest. Twelve miles of standard gauge line was handled by Shay, Heisler, and Climax steam locomotives. E.S. expanded his operations by forming the Silver Lake Railway & Lumber Company (1903) and the Cowlitz Development Company (1923). To add to all of this, in 1902, E.S. was elected to the Washington State Legislature.
It wasn't just a timber business that was expanding; a little love and family came into the mix, too. On February 7, 1899, E.S. married Mary Emma Laffey, whose family lived in nearby Catlin, Washington. And by 1902, they had three children, Alton Laffey Collins, Grace Ester Collins, and Truman Wesley Collins.
What E.S. had seen on his first trip to Ostrander would, within a few short years, make him a "square timber" expert, and the long logs became his ticket to freedom.
"Prevailing timber is fir, in size up to 8_ feet diameter and over 300 feet high in some specimens. Some would make saw logs over 225 feet long." -E.S. Collins
In fact, these unparalleled Douglas firs became Ostrander's signature logs. They were destined for keels and masts, Mississippi barges, the Panama Canal, and the Welland Canal in Canada.
A crew from the Ostrander Railway & Timber Co. hauls
logs out of a forest that has been heavily cut-over.
E.S. started with running two mills in Ostrander plus the Silver Lake Railway & Lumber Company and the Cowlitz Development Company. Then he added a wife and three children and a two-year stint in the Washington Legislature. As if that weren't enough, E.S. was asked by his father, Teddy, to explore other opportunities on the West Coast.
The ones that stand out in the history of the Collins Companies are the purchase of 37,320 acres in Molalla, Oregon and the approximately 67,880 acres in Plumas and Tehama Counties, California that became known as the Curtis, Collins & Holbrook Company.
When Teddy Collins died in 1914, E.S. moved his family back to Pennsylvania to settle his father's estate. What should have taken a year stretched into four years. Teddy had left two sawmills, complete with their towns and logging camps, a railroad, a chemical plant, a bank, a lot of cut-over land, and a mess. When E.S. finished straightening out his father's affairs, he closed mills in Pennsylvania, disposed of useless gold mines in Alaska, and sold land. What started out as close to 60,000 acres at the time of Teddy's death had been reduced by 1930 to roughly 30,000 acres. He put Fred Klinestiver, a long time Teddy Collins employee and trusted friend, in charge of the Pennsylvania lands, railroads, and mills, and went home - to Portland, Oregon.
Although the mills in Ostrander were still operating, E.S. settled his family and business headquarters in Portland, Oregon. By 1918, he was operating out of an office in the Pittock Building, and by 1927-28, he had moved over to the new Terminal Sales Building in downtown Portland. From there he oversaw operations that included participation in:
E.S. Collins was selected as one of the
Oregonian's "100 Men of the Century," in an
article dated December 13, 1950.
Oregon Pulp and Paper Company
St. Helens Pulp and Paper Company
Ochoco Timber Company
Ochoco Lumber Company
Mt. Adams Pine Company
J.T. McDonald Logging Company
Lakeview Logging Company
Elk Lumber Company
Grande Ronde Pine Company
Cook Oil Lease
Curtis, Collins & Holbrook
Pennsylvania Lumber Company
Ostrander Railway & Timber Company
Silver Lake Railway & Lumber Company
Cowlitz Development Company
...and so much more.
E.S. Collins died of pneumonia December 18, 1940. He was 74 years old and had battled consumption all of his life. So it was no surprise that he finally succumbed to his life-long nemesis.
He Earned Ably and Spent Wisely
"There were elements of greatness in E.S. Collins, lumberman, banker, and philanthropist - a rich man who went about quietly doing good. E.S. Collins, a living success story at it's best, made money readily, spent it wisely, remembering always the social obligations that go with wealth. He will be remembered with gratitude and pride." -The Oregon Journal - January 1, 1941
The Third Generation
Truman Wesley Collins
Truman Wesley Collins
E.S. Collins and his wife, Mary Laffey, had three children: In 1899, Alton Laffey Collins; In 1901, Grace Ester Collins; and in 1902, Truman Wesley Collins. They were all bron and raised in the mill town of Ostrander, Washington. By the time they were teenagers, the family had moved to Pennsylvania so E.S. could settle his father, T.D.'s, estate. During those four years, Alton and Ester graduated from Kellettville High School, in Kellettville, Pennsylvania. When the estate was settled, ES moved the famiy from Pennsylvania to Portland, where he established the company headquarters and where Truman finished his senior year in high school, graduating in 1918 from Lincoln High School. Alton stayed in Pennsylvania, graduating from Allegheny College. Ester enrolled at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon and was soon followed by Truman. By the time they had finished their undergraduate studies, their three paths diverged. Alton moved to Ostrander to assist and then manage Ostrander Railway & Timber Company. Grace married Elmer Goudy, who was studying law at Stanford University. And Truman entered Harvard's MBA program.
Books & Mentors
While this third generation was busy getting a bellyful of learning, E.S. Collins continued pursuing timber deals. The one that would have the greatest influence on his youngest son, Truman, came in the form of a wise-cracking, story-telling lumberman from down Alabama way. Enter J.T. McDonald. At the time, J.T. was managing the Milton Box Company in Glenwood, Washington - a company that was about to be sold to "eastern interests." Not particularly keen on those "East Coast boys," J.T. began looking around for a West Coast lumberman who might want to get his hands on a pine operation. E.S. Collins' name came bubbling to the surface, so J.T. made an appointment to meet the man.
The man, E.S. Collins, was tall, thin, unsmiling, and intimidating. He greeted J.T. by placing his big watch on the table and announcing he had five minutes to tell his story. J.T. never flinched. He told E.S. there was an enormous stand of pine and a mill that could be had for a pretty fair price close to Portland. E.S. said if he were a betting man, he would gamble any sum that J.T. had feathers for brains. There couldn't possibly be that much timber so close to Portland without his knowing about it.
Early logging trucks (pictured here with Harry
Holcomb driving) provided a more efficient way
of moving timber.
A trip to Glenwood, Washington the next day with J.T. proved that the intimidating man with the big watch was wrong. Feathers be damned, the wise-cracking Alabama man was right. E.S. ended up purchasing the mill and renaming it the Mt. Adams Pine Company. On November 11, 1925, E.S. Collins sat in his Cadillac outside of the newly purchased mill, turned to his passenger, J.T., and told him he was now the manager and on the Collins payroll, but with one tiny proviso. E.S.'s son, Truman, had just graduated from Harvard's MBA program and E.S. wanted him to get some boot and dirt learning. He made sure J.T. understood that there was to be no coddling, no indulgence, no special treatment for his son. "Treat him fair as you would any man, but teach him everything you know about trees, mills, and men." It didn't take long for J.T. to figure out his new title� manager and mentor.
Truman wasn't going to be the only son with a mentor. Alton Collins had a degree in mathematics under his belt, and felt he'd just head up to Ostrander Railway & Timber Co. in Ostrander, Washington and run the operation. He probably forgot that E.S. was his father and no child of his was going to sashay into management waving his college degree. E.S. put Alton under the sawmill manager, J.A. Byerly, and the logging boss, Charlie Beauvais, a dirt-kicking, most likely spitting, French Canadian.
Responsible Partners in Land and Resource Stewardship
Alton: The Fir Man
The big mill in Ostrander turned out lumber from
1889 until its closure in 1939.
By 1927, E.S. had purchased J.A. Byerly's interest in Ostrander Railway & Timber Co. and the Silver Lake Railway Company. Now it really was Alton's turn, and he was installed as manager. Alton managed Ostrander for twelve years, but by 1935 he was given another responsibility. In 1914, E.S. and T.D. Collins purchased 37,320 acres of mostly virgin Douglas fir that was tucked along the north and middle fork of the Molalla River in Oregon. Now it was time to begin harvesting the timber. He sent Alton, Charlie Beauvais, and crew to do just that. By 1936, they formed the Ostrander Logging Company in preparation to start logging the Molalla lands.
Alton Collins would eventually go on to become vice president of Collins Pine Company, president of Elk Lumber Company, Fremont Sawmill, Ostrander Construction Company, and vice president of the Collins Foundation.
Truman: The Pine Man
While Alton was learning the fir business, Truman was at the Mt. Adams Pine Company in Glenwood, Washington learning the pine business. But by 1931, timber was getting scarce in the Glenwood area. Smaller mills had been forced to close, leaving only Collins and the J. Neils Company. It was clear to both of them that there was only room for one company to survive. A story told by old-timers recounts that Truman Collins and J. Neils decided to toss a coin. The winner would buy out the loser. Collins lost. The Mt. Adams Pine Company and timber were sold to J. Neils, who dismantled the mill.
The mill pond and stacking yard at Mt. Adams Pine
Company. Note the log flume (foreground) sliding logs
into the pond, 1927.
Before the dust could settle in Glenwood, Truman wasted no time finding another mill for sale - the Grande Ronde Lumber Company and the Big Creek & Telocaset Railroad in Pondosa, Oregon. The Stoddard family wanted to sell and Truman wanted to buy. It's just that the dollars to do the deal sat in the pockets of his father, E.S., and E.S. considered this purchase a good way for a man to lose his shirt. After some persuading, E.S. reluctantly agreed. In retrospect, the operation ended up costing considerably more than a shirt, and no, Truman didn't lose his, although Pondosa tried hard to break him.
The year was 1931, and Truman brought many of the men who had been with him in Glenwood to Pondosa, including J.T. McDonald, Al Wellenbrock, George Gerbing, and Paul Foote. Perhaps the most important lesson Truman Collins was to learn in Pondosa boiled down to one word: sustainability. And not just in terms of trees, but in terms of human beings. If you don't own and sustain your timber resource, you can't continually operate a mill, or support a community, or provide jobs, or establish a stable environment for families. This is where Truman Collins broke with his granddaddy and namesake, Truman Doud Collins. Young Truman didn't want to own every tree he could lay his hands on. He wanted to sustain every tree he owned.
Trucks and Trees
One of Truman's and J.T. McDonald's legacies
was the introduction of trucks to the
logging industry, highlighted in this 1939
issue of The Timberman.
Talking about sustaining trees is one thing. Doing it is quite another. In T.D. Collins' days trees were cut, hauled out of the woods by mule, oxen, or horses, and then rafted down the creeks and rivers to mills and markets. In those days trees seemed endless, a country was growing, and enough was never enough. Then the creeks and rivers gave way to the railroads, and timber cutting moved farther and farther into the forest. But railroads were expensive to build. If forests were to be harvested sustainably, they needed a "lighter touch," a way to get in and out with the least damage to the environment. Truck logging was the answer. The only problem was� logging trucks hadn't been created.
Enter, again, one J.T. McDonald, now mentor to Truman Collins and soon to be partner of E.S. Collins. As it turned out, J.T. was one of the earliest proponents of truck logging. In the early 1920s, when he was managing the Milton Box Company in Glenwood, Washington, he began experimenting with truck logging. In those days, that meant cannibalizing whatever vehicles he could lay his hands on. He began by purchasing six light-duty Model-T Fords once used by a mining outfit. He paid $800 for all six, then turned them into log trucks by affixing bunks between the truck and the old automobile rear ends. The Fords could carry 1,000 feet of logs each, with 16-foot logs, running on solid rubber tires.
By 1937, both Truman and E.S. saw the potential of truck logging, so E.S. and J.T. formed the J.T. McDonald Logging Company. Two years later, Truman and several others joined E.S. and J.T. and formed a second truck logging company, Lakeview Logging. Both companies started logging operations in the Lakeview, Oregon area. Truman became a well-known, vocal proponent of truck logging as a way to practice sustainable forestry.
The Grand Experiment
It all started with a death. On December 18, 1940, E.S. Collins died in a Portland, Oregon hospital. While one door closed, another opened. The door was 67,800 acres in the Sierra Nevada Mountains near the little town of Chester, California. The land was originally purchased in 1902-1904 by Teddy Collins and five other partners and was known as the Curtis, Collins & Holbrook Company (CC&H). Between 1910 and 1917, E.S. acquired all the outstanding stock from his partners. At the time of his death, he willed 60% of his personal stock, representing 90% of the company, to the Board of Foreign Missions of the Methodist Church and the remaining 40% of his personal stock to his family. E.S. Collins' will stated that "Truman Collins would have the first opportunity among his children to operate and develop the Curtis, Collins & Holbrook properties."
A magnificent stand of ponderosa pine in the Collins
Almanor Forest in Chester, California.
The 67,800 acres had never been logged. In fact, it had remained untouched since it's purchase in 1902-1904. This was Truman's chance to create a sustainable logging operation. He was still running the Grande Ronde Pine Company in Pondosa, but in order to begin logging and building a mill in Chester, he would have to get approval from the other CC&H owners, now including the Methodist Church Board of Foreign Missions and the other members of the Collins family. So he turned to his attorney and confidant, Ed McCulloch. They walked the CC&H property in Chester, talked about the potential, and then turned to each other and said, "Let's do it." The Church and the family agreed. Truman would continue to manage the Grande Ronde Pine Company and he would begin "The Grand Experiment" in sustainable forestry in Chester, California.
The Brain Trust
George Flanagan (left) was hired by
Truman Collins in 1941 as the chief
forester of Everell's estate. Both had been
influenced by Dave Mason prior to that time.
Before the "Let's do it" could begin, two key people were to be added to the team: George Flanagan and Wally Reed. Back in 1939, Truman had met George Flanagan, who was a former partner with Mason and Bruce and a proponent of selective harvesting. George was employed by the Forest Service to promote better forest practices on private industrial lands. In 1940, he took Truman to Mineral, Washington to observe Tom Murray's West Fork Logging Company, which was carefully removing old growth Douglas Fir with minimal damage to the Hemlock understory.
At the same time, along came a man named Wally Reed. Wally had worked at the Black Mountain Experiment Station developing a risk rating system for predicting and combating losses caused by bark beetles in Ponderosa Pine stands. The studies Wally worked on indicated that selective logging of the "high risk" pines would reduce the buildup of bark beetles so the trees could be salvaged before they deteriorated. In 1941, Wally was working as a government scaler in Lakeview, Oregon, and was introduced to Truman Collins. Truman was very interested in what Wally had to say about his selective logging studies.
In both men, George Flanagan and Wally Reed, Truman saw a passion for sustainable forestry and desire to create an environmental model that would perpetuate a forest as well as a community.
"The first year, 1941, all we did was sell logs to Red River Logging Company and a few other small ownerships. It was the Collins way to help finance building a new sawmill� a pay-as-you-go philosophy." -Wally Reed
Wally Reed, the first forest manager at
Collins Pine Company in Chester.
It was also the first step in Truman Collins' desire to create a sustainable forestry operation. If you were going to plan for 50 to 100 to 200 years into the future, you had to have a land base to support that future. He had learned from his experiences in Glenwood and Pondosa that the critical element in establishing a sustainable forest was ownership. The second critical element was people. You had to help support and nurture a community, as opposed to owning a community. Employees had to be guaranteed stable employment so you could attract and keep families. And finally, your dream had to become others'. Building a sustainable forestry operation in the face of "cut & run" competitors would not be easy. It would take a community of dreamers.
The Hearts, Souls, and Calked Boots of Early Chester
To kick-start the operation, Truman brought a contingent of men and their families down from Pondosa while still leaving a full crew to run the mill and railroad. By December 1941, logs were being stockpiled in the Chester pond and decks to start a mill. Some of those who came down from Pondosa included: Paul Foote, Al Wellenbrock, George Gerbing, Hank Ritsch, Emery Olsen, Ray Curteman, Ken Prather, Eldon Lay, Butch Godsey, Vernon Sayer, Mets Lerwell, J.R. McDonald, Al Hermo, Si Raymond, Wayne Peterson, Doc Curtis, and Joe Gunderson. And the man who would eventually head up the whole operation, including overseeing the building of the mill, was going to be Elmer Goudy, Truman's brother-in-law.
In addition, the man to lead the forestry part of this dream was the prickly pear, get-to-the-point forester named Wally Reed. He was a perfectionist, a little short on patience, and, if the moment propelled him, rather cantankerous. But the man was a doer, a highly respected doer, and what he did was lay the entire foundation for sustainable forestry in Chester and for the foresters that ably followed him. He was smart, dedicated, and an indomitable force in bringing Truman's vision to fruition.
The Pennsylvania Lands
The brilliant fall colors in the Collins
While the Chester operations were underway, Truman was considering selling the Collins' Pennsylvania assets to pay his father's estate tax. That summer, Truman and George Flanagan decided to survey the Pennsylvania forestlands.
In preparation, George looked up what information he could find on the forests of that region and regaled Truman with his newfound knowledge on their four-day train trip to Pennsylvania. What they found when they got there was a vigorous second-growth forest with trees ranging from four to twelve inches in diameter and growing at a rate of two inches in diameter every ten years. There was no denying that these lands would increase in value over the next two decades. They decided to hold onto the property. But they were going to have to convince the Methodist Board of Foreign Missions, who had been willed a substantial portion of the Pennsylvania properties in stock by E.S. Collins, to hold on to these lands. George's recommendation was to wait twenty years and then start harvesting the larger trees on a selective basis, enough each year to offset the growth on the entire property. He prepared a management plan, and they met with the treasurer of the Board of Missions. They were able to convince him of the soundness of long-term management and the value of a perpetual stream of income.
A Hiccup in the Plans
All of these dreams, with all of these people, was all well and good. But it just so happened that it coincided with a reality that had nothing to do with logs and mills and sustainable forestry.
The date was December 7, 1941. The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and if you had a dream or even a plan that wasn't connected to the War, you could shelve it. The next day, the U.S. declared war on Japan, and three days later, Germany declared war on the U.S. Building a sawmill suddenly became very, very difficult as the War Production Board (WPB) was created to supervise industrial production. Turbine generators, pipes, or tools could no longer be purchased. Instead they had to be salvaged from wherever they could be found.
"Machinery was certainly a problem but it was also really difficult to find qualified employees. It seemed as soon as we hired them, they'd quit when they were unable to find suitable housing for themselves or their families." -John Masson
It wasn't just the men and machinery that were hard to come by, as it turned out. Management of the company took its own hit. Truman Collins was not going to be left out of the War.
Maribeth and Truman Collins at their March 12, 1943
wedding, with Truman in his naval uniform.
On September 21, 1942, Truman received his appointment as a Lieutenant in the United States Naval Reserve. After his appointment, he set up a system to operate the various mills and forestlands in his absence. He turned to four men. They reported to him by telephone and, if need be, asked his advice or sought his approval. They included: Ed McCulloch, who was his corporate counsel and business advisor; L.B. (Roy) Staver, the trust officer for the E.S. Collins estate; George Flanagan, chief forester for the E.S. Collins estate; and Elmer Goudy, an attorney and the first state administrator of the public welfare system in Oregon. And he was married to Truman's sister, Grace. The choice of the first three men seemed reasonable. They knew the legal and forest affairs of the Company. But the head of the public welfare system who had absolutely no forestry experience?
"At the time Truman joined the Navy, I was considering returning to law, but I had a definite responsibility to my family. So I went to work for the Company in 1942. I never had any interest whatsoever in anything else. I didn't know a great deal about it, that is true, but I didn't come in entirely as a novice. I had a general knowledge of the business." -Elmer Goudy
In spite of all these adjustments, the first log ran through the new mill at Chester on April 1, 1943. The dream had taken hold.
Mills, Wars & Marriage
Was there time in the midst of all this for courting, loving, and marrying? If you're Truman Collins, the answer was clearly, yes. Weeks before the mill opened in Chester, Truman married Maribeth Wilson. It was March 12, 1943. Two dreams were now alive and well. And the operations?
Chester foresters Bob Service, John Masson
and Spud Ford.
Truman's overriding concern in Chester was how this operation could be built to last in perpetuity, so that a stable workforce could build a stable community. An important consideration was how to manage the timber ownership in a way that would yield a steady, long-term supply of logs to the mill. This meant not cutting more wood fiber than the forest was growing, favoring the faster growing trees of each species, and maintaining the health of the entire forest.
Don't Take More Than the Forest Can Naturally Supply
To avoid overcutting the forest, it was important to know how much wood fiber the forest was growing each year. Wally Reed set up a system of continuous inventory plots, one for every 160 acres, and each plot a circular acre in size. On each of these circular acres, the diameter at breast height was measured on all trees over eleven inches in diameter. Each of these trees was assigned a number and remeasured every ten years. With each remeasurement, new trees would be added as they grew into the twelve inch size, and trees which had been logged or died would be dropped from the inventory.
The growth of trees was monitored by species, competition class, and maturity. This provided a guide in selecting the individual trees to be harvested so that the growth on the forest could be enhanced. During the first harvest cycle on the property, forty million board feet per year were logged in order to salvage the decaying timber. It was assumed at the time, after this initial salvage, that they would be able to sustain an annual harvest of twenty million board feet. As the first harvest cycle was drawing to a close, the growth information from the plots exceeded expectations, indicating an annual growth of thirty million board feet.
Truman Collins and J.T. McDonald;
Rebuilding of the Fremont Sawmill.
Long-Term Planning Pays Off
The Wolf Creek tract, comprising 17,000 acres, was added to the ownership in 1946. This provides an interesting example of the long-term nature of timberland investments. Before Collins purchased this tract, most of the merchantable timber had been removed. Very little harvesting was done there for thirty-eight years, to enable the timber stands to recover a wider range of tree sizes. The growth on these lands was determined to be five million board feet per year. From 1984 until 1996, sustainable harvests from Wolf Creek paid back the initial investment (six dollars per acres) with ten percent interest.
Lakeview had already caught the attention of Truman and J.T. McDonald. Prior to E.S. Collins' death, they had set up two logging companies, J.T. McDonald Logging Company and Lakeview Logging Company. Now it was time for a mill. Truman was opposed to the idea, but with some persuading by J.T. and George Flanagan, a group of investors bought the Lakeview Lumber Company in 1944. They changed the name to the Lakeview Sawmill Company and within months had turned it into a profitable operation. Carroll McDonald, J.T.'s nephew, ran the mill, and by 1945, one mill became two with the addition of Fremont Sawmill. Fire took the first mill, then fire took the second. Most lumbermen would have thrown in the towel. Collins stayed. And within 90 days, the mill was rebuilt and back in business.
First board cut by Elk Lumber Company
(Medford, Oregon), August 19, 1946. From left:
George Flanagan, Charles McCulloch, R.R.
Chaffee, Truman Collins, and Elmer Goudy.
George Flanagan had originally been hired by Truman as the chief forester for the E.S. Collins Estate. It didn't take long for him to become Truman's trusted forest advisor. Now being an advisor is one thing, but running your own show is another. George wanted a chance in the catbird seat, and that chance came from a purchase E.S. Collins had made years before. Between 1910 and 1912, Elk Lumber Company was bought by a group of partners, one of which was E.S. Collins, who owned a 17% stake in the company. Flanagan saw the potential in the Medford lands and with Truman's backing, bought out all the other partners and built a state-of-the-art mill in Medford, Oregon. The first log was cut August 19, 1946, and George was the general manager and vice president of the new Elk Lumber Company.
The Grande Ronde Pine Company mill site
in Pondosa, Oregon (circa late 1930s).
The Grande Ronde Pine Company and the Big Creek & Telocaset Railroad continued to operate in Pondosa. The only change came in 1946, when Truman decided to turn over the Grande Ronde Pine Company to a group of loyal employees. The name was changed to the Collins Pondosa Lumber Company, and it operated until 1958, when it was sold to the Mt. Emily Lumber Company, a division of Valsetz Lumber Company.
The granddaddy of the Collins operations in Pennsylvania had diminished during E.S.'s tenure. For E.S., the future was in the West. Truman, with the help of George Flanagan, saw the future differently. It was time to expand the hardwood business. In 1950, Truman hired Charlie Genaux as the forest manager of Collins' Pennsylvania operations. The goal? Buy land, preserve what they already had, and get ready to return to operating a sawmill in the East. He'd found the right man for the job. Joined by Al Hilse, John Gidos, Sanford Secor, Burt Duell, and John Moore, they carried out a third generation Collins dream - to reestablish their operations in Pennsylvania.
Did the Dream Come True?
Obituary following the death of
Truman W. Collins.
In a word, yes. The lessons Truman had learned from his time at Mt. Adams Pine Company in Glenwood, Washington and then the Grande Ronde Pine Company in Pondosa, Oregon came to fruition in Chester and was carried on to Lakeview, Medford, and Kane. You can manage forests sustainably. And in doing so, you can nurture the biodiversity of the lands you manage; you can help create a stable workforce that in turn builds a healthy community where families can raise their children; you can foster a sense of loyalty and trust by being loyal and trustworthy; and you can leave the Earth and people you touched the better for your being there.
He Gave of Himself
On February 23, 1964, Truman Collins died of a massive heart attack. He was 63 years old. He left his wife Maribeth, six months pregnant with their fourth child, and their three children, twins Tim and Terry and daughter Cheri.
The granddaddy of the Collins operations in Pennsylvania had diminished during E.S.'s tenure. For E.S., the future was in the West. Truman, with the help of George Flanagan, saw the future differently. It was time to expand the hardwood business. In 1950, Truman hired Charlie Genaux as the forest manager of Collins' Pennsylvania operations. The goal? Buy land, preserve what they already had, and get ready to return to operating a sawmill in the East. He'd found the right man for the job. Joined by Al Hilse, John Gidos, Sanford Secor, Burt Duell, and John Moore, they carried out a third generation Collins dream - to reestablish their operations in Pennsylvania.
Elmer Raymond Goudy
Elmer Raymond Goudy
He wasn't born to be a lumberman. In fact, it's fair to say that even in his wildest imagination, trees were never in his future. He was a lawyer, graduating from Stanford Law School in 1929. He practiced law in Portland, Oregon, where he had grown up. When asked by then Governor Julius Meier to serve as the first administrator of the Oregon State Public Welfare Commission, he said yes. But a second yes would overshadow the first. He married Grace Ester Collins, and whether he knew it at the time or not, trees would someday consume his life.
That day came on September 21, 1942, when Truman W. Collins was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve and assigned to serve in Seattle, Washington. He asked for Elmer's help in running the company in his absence.
"I'm quite sure Elmer was not eager to join the Company. I think he relished his independence from the family and from E.S. Collins' wealth. But I also think that he felt there was a family enterprise involved that he and his wife and other members of the family were interested in seeing continue and prosper." -Tom Stoel (Attorney for Collins Pine Company)
The log mill pond at Collins Pine Company in
Chester, California. The pond no longer exists.
Whatever Elmer's reasons were, he agreed to Truman's offer to join the company, and he never looked back. His responsibilities were:
"To be primarily responsible for the management of the Grande Ronde Pine Company in Pondosa and Chester, and the Ostrander Logging Company in Molalla, Oregon if Alton Collins leaves for military service.Be primarily responsible for the Almanor Railroad and the Big Creek & Telocaset Railroad. In addition, be responsible for all other areas Alton is managing if he leaves for military service."
Becoming a Sawmill Man
While his wife, Grace, and son, Alan, stayed in Portland, Elmer moved to Chester, where he oversaw the building of the new mill. In those days it was a long, arduous commute, but he was determined to carry out Truman's wishes. And carry them out he did.
Twenty-two years later, getting close to retirement, the man who had come to help out the Company and the family was once again asked to cover for Truman. Only this time Truman wasn't temporarily absent. He was gone, having died of a heart attack.
At the time, Elmer was 63, and his health wasn't all that great. He had arthritis, a bad back, and was overweight. Plus, he was looking forward to doing more of what he loved, and that was travel. Instead, he became president of Collins Pine Company.
"Elmer pulled it off. He had an overfilled plate, but he knew how to operate things, and he had a keen legal mind." -Alan Goudy
Lakeview Logging Company in Lakeview, Oregon,
wasknown for hauling enormous log loads on
off-highway roads. Pictured here, a Kenworth
payload from 1939, carrying 23,610 feet of
timber on 12 foot bunks.
One of the first moves Elmer made was to sell Elk Lumber Company. The U.S. Bank was pushing to sell Elk Lumber to help pay the taxes on Truman's estate. George Flanagan, who was the general manager, had run a remarkably profitable operation for Collins Pine Company, but the cards were dealt, and Elk was sold in 1965 to Boise Cascade with the agreement that George would stay on.
The next step was the Fremont Sawmill in Lakeview, Oregon. At the time of Truman's death, it was overseen by Alton Collins and J.T. McDonald, with Carroll McDonald as general manager. Carroll was soon to retire and was replaced by Choc Shelton. One mill then became two with the purchase of a second mill in neighboring Paisley, Oregon.
The Kane yard filled with milled hardwood lumber.
Let's not forget Pennsylvania. Charlie Genaux was Truman's choice to be the forest manager, and under Charlie's guidance, new timberlands were purchased and a Christmas tree operation opened on the former Crary Farms in Sheffield, Pennsylvania. That was about to change in 1966, when Collins bought a small sawmill and timberlands from the Hardes Lumber Company in Lantz Corners, Pennsylvania. Bill Nagy became general manager. Almost 43 years had passed since Collins closed their last mill in Pennsylvania, the Salmon Creek Lumber Company. Now they were back in the sawmill business. No longer a historic backwater of the bygone days of Teddy Collins, Pennsylvania was beginning to flex its muscle as the Company's future. By the time Elmer was ready to retire in 1974, a new, larger mill was under construction in Kane, Pennsylvania.
Chester was also on the move under Elmer's guidance. Jim Garrett became the resident manager, and Wally Reed continued as the forest manager. Ten years went by, and on April 3, 1974, Elmer stepped aside as president of Collins Pine Company and took up the post of chairman of the board. The man was worn out. He'd done his part, more than his part, and he wanted some years to continue traveling with his wife, Grace. He didn't get many years. On April 17, 1979, Elmer Raymond Goudy died in a Portland hospital. He thought he had an ulcer. Instead he was riddled with cancer.
Grace and Elmer on a trip to Egypt. Traveling
together was one of their pleasures.
"I think my dad was under considerable stress. From where I sat, he carried an awful load that I don't think people realized. And it wasn't a load he particularly wanted. He did it as a duty to the family. He never complained. That was just the way it was." -Alan Goudy
"Elmer stepped right up when Truman died. He was a good servant to the family, and they needed that. He knew the work had to be done, and he got it done. I have to give Elmer all the credit in the world." -Wade Mosby
Alan Collins Goudy
Alan Collins Goudy
Alan Collins Goudy was the son of Elmer and Grace Goudy. Born January 20, 1930, Alan was the first Collins to major in forestry, receiving his masters degree in wood technology from Yale University. Summers during his undergraduate studies at Willamette University and then Yale were spent in the woods and mill at Collins Pine Company in Chester, California. While Yale would give him his masters degree, it was the men in Chester who gave him the lessons, the language, the strut, and the stuff of a forester. In between came the Korean War, and with that, Alan enlisted, was accepted into the Navy OCS program, and by 1951 was commissioned and sent overseas, joining a destroyer in Yokosuko, Japan. He spent three and a half years in the Navy, first as a shipboard officer, starting in engineering and damage control, then onto main propulsion systems, then communications officer, anti-submarine officer, and operations officer.
Love Meets Life
Like Truman Collins before him, Alan slipped a little love in during his time in the service, marrying his college sweetheart, Jane Widmer. With Yale and the Navy behind him the question turned to the obvious, "What next?"
Alan Goudy, commissioned as a naval
officer in September 1951.
"My mom asked me what my plans were, and frankly, I was somewhat indefinite. She asked me what I thought about working for the Company, which I had thought about. But I was also thinking of going up to Alaska. I had a professor who I really admired who was an old sourdough from Alaska. But Mom suggested I might want to go to work in Chester.
So I got a call from Truman. He was wondering if I would be interested in working either in Chester or in Medford at the Elk Lumber Company. I'd been in Chester. I'd worked a couple of summers there, so I knew the operation. My wife had been down there and she liked it. It was a delightful place to be, to raise kids, so I told Truman, 'Sure, I'd like to start at Chester.'"-Alan Goudy
The Detail Man
Start he did. He began as a forester, then went into the plant and apprenticed to a saw filer, then it was millwrighting, operating dry kilns, pulling slick chains in the planing mill, tallying lumber, and working in the sales department. In addition, every year Truman sent him back for several weeks to Collins' operations in Kane. Then Alan's time came. Truman wanted to build a flakeboard (now referred to as particleboard) plant in Chester, and he asked Alan to act as the "clerk of the works," overseeing the contractors who were building the flakeboard plant. Construction started in 1959, and by 1961 the plant was up and running. While he may have micromanaged every detail, the job fit the man. He not only had a background in adhesives from his days studying wood technology at Yale, but he was a stickler for detail and extremely conscientious. Even though the plant was built on an experimental basis, with a research lab on site, it was a roaring success. But by the late 1970s, new technology was passing it by.
Harry Demary, technical director
of the flakeboard plant.
"Alan did a good job building the flakeboard plant. He worked around the clock on it because it was his project from the word go." -Gene Sharp
Alan Goudy never stayed to see the flakeboard plant close, which it finally did in 1985, as new, more efficient operations passed it by. Because he, like his father, Elmer, was scrambling to hold all the pieces together following Truman's death in 1964. Elmer called his son back to Portland in 1966 and asked him to take charge of operations for Chester, Lakeview, and Kane. The man who might have found his way to Alaska on the advice of his old sourdough professor was now vice president of Collins Pine Company.
Flakeboard plant opened in
Chester, California, in 1961.
Perhaps one of the biggest changes that took place under Alan's direction during his time as vice president was the planning for, and building of, a new hardwood sawmill in Kane, Pennsylvania. It opened in 1974, coincidentally the same year that Elmer retired as president of Collins Pine Company and Alan was appointed president. Elmer was not an easy act to follow, and his uncle, Truman, was already a legend. Then there was E.S. and Teddy Collins, both of whom had cut a wide and impressive swath through the timber industry. The shoes Alan stepped into weren't just big, they were huge. On April 13, 1974, Alan Goudy began his tenure as president of Collins Pine Company.
Alan's first move was to hire Joe Connolly as vice president of administration. Essentially it was "please take all of this ERIS and EEOC and other government mumbo jumbo off my shoulders so I never have to think about it again." Joe Connolly did just that.
In 1966, Collins purchased the Hardes Lumber
Company at Lantz Corners, Pennsylvania. The
first log sawn was September 12, 1966.
The next move was in Kane. Bill Nagy, the current manager, was a forester by heart, but what was really needed was a mill man. Enter Bob Lastofka. Independent, short on words, long on operations, he took over the job of general manager and brought the mill around to profitability. On the forestry side in Pennsylvania, Al Hilse was the land manager and Paul Higby, the logging supervisor. That lasted until 1978 when Al lost an uphill battle with cancer. Paul stepped in and became forest manager, a job he did with diligence and skill until his retirement in 2002.
"Two things stand out for me about Collins' forest practices. The first has to do with me, the second has to do with the land. I had worked in forestry on the West Coast as a young man, and when I came here in 1966, I was a little concerned about whether I could do a good job for Collins in the East. But everyone seemed willing to teach me and put up with a few mistakes. They let you learn on the job, and there was no real pressure to perform immediately. You were not expected to step in and do miraculous things right away. And, in a way, it's the same with a tree. At Collins, they expect it to take 80 to 100 years to grow a tree. If you're in the timber business the way Collins is, you can't rush things. There has never been any real pressure on us to log a property before its time. We've been able to set aside areas for wildlife, protect streams, and leave places virtually untouched. That's what happens when you have a long-term commitment to the land, your employees, and the community" -Paul Higby
The Price of Loyalty
Alan Goudy may have been the fourth family member to run Collins Pine Company, but the fundamental values had not changed since the days of Teddy Collins: Integrity, respect, honesty - to the employees who work for and with you; to the communities you are a part of; and to the land you manage (although Teddy was more interested in cutting trees than growing trees). Alan Goudy had inherited more than land, or wealth, or trees by the zillion. He inherited the loyalty of employees. And he, like his family before him, gave it right back.
Alan and Jane Goudy
An Unexpected GoodbyeAlan Goudy stepped down as president of the Company on January 31, 1983. It was just nine years since he had taken over from his father, Elmer. He was only 53 years old. But sometimes loyalty bumps into reality, and in Alan's case, that reality was called a heart attack. Although mild, it was enough for a man to take stock of his life, his family, and his future.
"To be brutally honest, I spent about a week in the coronary care unit at Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland. Now, there's nothing like a heart attack to clear one's mind. I decided I wasn't enjoying my work."-Alan Goudy
As Robert Frost's eloquent poem states, "Two roads diverged in the wood, and I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." Alan Goudy took the road less traveled and in a very significant way, so did Collins Pine Company.
Maribeth Wilson Collins
An Unexpected Hello
Some people are born to lead. Some are called to lead. Some are asked to lead. A very few lead because there is no choice. For this Collins, there was no other choice. No doubt Teddy and E.S. would have cried, "outlandish, unheard of," but Truman would have been proud. The next Collins up was a woman, and the woman was Truman's wife, Maribeth Collins.
Three months after Truman's death in 1964, Maribeth gave birth to their fourth child, Truman Wesley Collins, Jr. He joined his older siblings, the twins, Tim & Terry, who were fifteen years old, and their sister, Cheri, who was thirteen. Fortunately, Elmer Goudy agreed to step in as president of the Company, and he was followed by his son, Alan Goudy. But two key positions would eventually have Maribeth's name on them, chairman of the board of Collins Pine Company and president and chairman of the board of The Collins Foundation.
Camp Collins groundbreaking ceremony for a new
addition to the dining hall named for Truman W.
Collins. Left to right: Tim, Cheri, Terry, Truman Jr.,
Maribeth, and Alton Collins. (Photo circa 1967-1968).
"After Truman's death, the family wanted me to be president of The Collins Foundation, which I just couldn't believe. Alton and his sister, Grace, both said, 'If you do that, we'll help all we can.' I thought, 'I've never been to a meeting.' I didn't really know whether I could do it. Then I thought, 'You know, this is something that was really close to Truman. He started it in 1947 with the family.' Maybe that would be my motivation. I thought, 'What else can I do, besides raise our family, that was really, really dear to him?' So I just plunged in." -Maribeth Collins
A Full Plate
The Collins Foundation was not the only place where she plunged in. There was also the Company. And they wanted her as a leader, not as a figurehead. The Foundation was one thing, but the Company?
Annual report of the Collins Foundation,
which was founded by Truman Collins
on December 5, 1947.
I certainly didn't have any experience running a company. But it's been in the family since T.D., then Everell, Truman, Elmer, and Alan. There were several times when somebody wanted to buy our Company. It was before my children were grown. Even though I couldn't personally run the Company, I couldn't imagine, after all this time, after all these generations, that we could just give it up. After all the people who have carried on with such loyalty, wouldn't you feel if you gave it up, that you were just selling it all down the river? -Maribeth Collins
Following Elmer's retirement, Maribeth accepted the request to become chairman of the board of Collins Pine Company. Now all she had on her plate was a newborn child, three teenagers, a household, a foundation, and a company to run.
"I'm not sure I ever identified with the role of chairman of the board, but that didn't mean I wasn't interested. I was very interested and very committed. I've certainly been at every board meeting and participated in decisions. But I don't have the technical knowledge that you normally would have in that role." -Maribeth Collins
Tom Stoel, attorney
Not afraid to learn, to ask questions, to face tough choices, Maribeth surrounded herself with guides. Sometimes they were foresters like Wally Reed or Bill Howe, sometimes they were administrators like Gene Sharp or Joe Connolly, and sometimes they were professionals like Tom Stoel or Jimmy Miller.
"What makes this Company unique is Maribeth. If she hadn't lived, I think the Company would probably have been broken up and sold. God knows what would have happened. But she provided the leadership, she kept it going. Tom Stoel was a powerful influence as the legal counsel for the Company. He knew what she wanted, and he made sure she got what she wanted, which was to keep the Company viable. That said, Maribeth was a very unlikely person to be in the kind of position she was in. She's super tolerant of people. I've never seen her get upset. Never seen her get mad when pushed by some particularly rude people." -Joe Connolly
More than a half a century apart, Truman and
Maribeth Collins oversee the same healthy
sustainable forest in Chester, California.
When Alan Goudy retired as president of the Company, there was no one in the Collins or Goudy family waiting in line. For Maribeth, it was one thing to be chairman of the board and an altogether different thing to become president and run the day-to-day operations. She stepped in where she could, but she wasn't about to drown in what would have been a death-defying leap into managing a business she couldn't manage. Reckless, rash, and daring she wasn't. She may have been hell-bent for leather to keep this business alive, but she was wise enough to know that taking on the job of president was just plain dumb. It all boiled down to - there's room at the top.
Robert James Lastofka
Robert James Lastofka
For the first time in 128 years, the Company was going to have a president outside of the Collins family. That position fell to Bob Lastofka, who was general manager of the Collins operations in Kane, Pennsylvania.
Born October 3, 1926 in Neillsville, Wisconsin, Bob served in the Marine Corp; graduated as an airplane mechanic from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the foremost aeronautical school in the world; and received a B.A. degree in business administration from the University of Miami. How all of this led him to Weyerhaeuser and a job in the lumber industry, nobody knows. But it must have been a good fit, because he went on to run a number of their mills. Ultimately, he came to Collins, and when Alan Goudy was interviewing him for the position of general manager in Kane, he asked Lastofka what job did he eventually want in the Company.
"I remember him looking me straight in the eye and saying, 'Yours.' As it turned out, he got his wish." -Alan Goudy
A Man Named Bob
While Lastofka was a little blunt around the edges, he was not overbearing. A private man who'd rather backpack, hike, and camp with his family, this Bob kept his feet firmly on the ground except when he was flying his plane.
"Bob was real easy to talk to. He was a simple man. His idea of a big night out was he and his wife, Betty, going and getting a hamburger or a corn dog in a small place. You know, it's pretty refreshing to hear you have a president of a company and his big night out was going to get a corn dog someplace. He lived a simple and frugal life." -Paul Harlan
Several employees of the Fremont Sawmill crew stop
by the mill in 2004 for a reunion photo. From left to
right: Jim Elder, Bob Evans, Don Sanborn,
When Bob Lastofka took over as president, he faced a somewhat wounded company. The forests were in good shape, but the mills were bleeding dollars. He turned his attention first to Fremont Sawmill in Lakeview, Oregon. Choc Shelton had been managing the mill. And while the mill may have been losing money, Choc was well-liked by the employees and was an active and integral part of the Lakeview community. Choc was accustomed to playing it loose and easy. Lastofka played it tight and controlled. To be fair, probably the only thing the two had in common was their love of planes and flying. Choc retired and in his place came another Bob - Bobby Evans. He'd been working at Fremont Sawmill since 1955, starting off by pulling lumber off the green chain. He moved from there to the planer, to shipping, to yard supervising, sales, and interim manager. Lastofka bumped him up one more notch to vice president and general manager of Fremont Sawmill.
In for a Dime, In for a Dollar
Lakeview wasn't just bleeding dollars from the mill, it was also running out of timber. Supplying two mills, one in Lakeview and one in Paisley, combined with a dwindling number of timber sales, put Fremont between the proverbial rock and a hard place. The big fish in town was Louisiana-Pacific (LP). They not only had a better mill, but they also had timber. It was clear to everyone involved that there was room for only one company in Lakeview. LP figured the odds were in their favor and they were right. But there was a scrappy little fish that had no intention of giving up. With Bob Lastofka playing the corporate cards and Bobby Evans and Paul Harlan, the new forester, playing the tough cards, the battle began.
"I could see Bobby starting to bow his neck up, 'Okay, we're going to give LP a run for their money. If we can't come to a deal with them, then we'll go to war with them.'" -Paul Harlan
It wasn't war as it turned out. With a lot of work and maneuvering, the little fish won. Fremont Sawmill ended up with the timber they needed, LP's mill, and many of LP's employees. On the way to the airport, where Lastofka would fly his plane home, he turned to Bobby Evans and Paul Harlan.
"You know, a year ago we wouldn't have bought a hot dog stand down here. Now we're spending $5.5 million and feeling real good about it." -Bob Lastofka
It was April 10, 1987 and Bob Lastofka had done his first deal as president of Collins Pine Company.
Next Up � Chester
Bill Howe with a shoulder of dynamite.
Another Bob. There must have been a shortage of names going around back then, because in one small story there's a Bob Lastofka as president, a Bobby Evans as vice president and general manager of Fremont Sawmill, and now a Bob Hathaway as the new vice president and general manager at Collins Pine in Chester, California. This latest Bob wasn't really new. He'd started at Chester as a certified grader in 1958, and like many Collins employees, stayed on for a lifetime.
Lastofka tried to make changes in Chester as he had in Lakeview, but the "loyalty" factor was far more entrenched. He wanted to disband Chester's long-time logging crew. It was an expensive drain on the Company, so he pushed as hard as he could to move to contract logging. But nobody was budging, not the Collins family, not Bob Hathaway, not Bill Howe, head of the logging crew, and as it turned out, not the legacy of Truman Collins. That legacy held to the belief that this forest belonged to those who logged it as much as those who milled the timber or ran the office.
"I remember when Lastofka took over, the first thing he said about Chester was, 'The logging crews have to go.' I was the logging superintendent and I knew that the family was proud of their logging department. I don't care what anybody tells you, believe me, there's a difference in what you get in the woods when you have your own employees there than if you have contractors.'" -Bill Howe
The logging crews stayed.
A Nod to Pennsylvania
Paul Higby, forest manager at Kane Hard-wood,
Kane, Pennsylvania, checks timber in the lumberyard.
Mike Collins, who was not related to the Collins family, became general manager in Kane when Lastofka left to become president of the Company. With Kane, there wasn't much Lastofka wanted to change. Maybe he thought he'd put everything in place while he was manager there or maybe he had other fish to fry in Lakeview and Chester. Whatever the answer, Kane did what it always did - practice sustainable forestry, run a good mill, produce a good product, and be good citizens of the community.
Exit Stage Right
On August 1, 1989, six years after he became president, Bob Lastofka retired. He changed what he could change, left the draws on the table, and took off in his camper with his wife, Betty. Now it was up to the next person in line, who happened to be Jim Quinn.
James Eugene Quinn
James Eugene Quinn
Passionate and confident on the one hand, a dreamer and a visionary on the other. There was a bit of the Irish in him, laughing uproariously at his own jokes, enjoying a drink, and watching people have fun. Loyal to his friends, tough on those who held to their own vision. When he wasn't working, he was golfing, and when he wasn't golfing, he was photographing, and when he wasn't photographing, he was traveling. But like Lastofka, what you saw is what you got.
Quinn was trained as a mechanical engineer, who turned pulp-and-paper guy, then turned operations analyst, sawmill production manager, operations manager, and then followed Bob Lastofka as president and CEO of Collins Pine Company. Quinn had been in, out, and around the woods products industry for years, gaining credentials, rubbing up against obstacles, and learning the ways of giant corporations, which, in his words, "used people like so much cannon fodder."
"Over the years in working for big corporations, I watched the influx of managerial people who I always likened to the Normandy invasion. Several of my promotions came as I stepped over the bodies of people I had worked with, one of them a personal friend to this day. He became a casualty, and when he dropped his gun, so to speak, I picked it up and moved up the beach with it. That's how the system worked." -Jim Quinn
Jim Quinn served on the USS Elkhorn off the ice-filled
waters of McMurdo Sound in Antarctica.
Jim Quinn was a Midwest boy born on September 17, 1937 in Moberly, Missouri, a small dot on the prairie about halfway between St. Louis and Kansas City. Fascinated with anything that had to do with science, Quinn graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in mechanical engineering. The next step was the Navy's Officers' Candidate School and then, three years later, as an engineering officer aboard ships in Antarctica and off the coast of Russia. In between icebergs he married Mary Elizabeth Dunnigan, said goodbye Navy and hello business, and ended up on the West Coast working for Crown Zellerbach. He mixed in a few more corporate giants before he sat himself down and said:
"I wanted something where integrity was more important than just pure advancement of salary. I wanted an opportunity to work in a culture that had a legacy of planning for the long-term, plus a commitment to stewardship, to the resources, and the people." -Jim Quinn
(From left to right) Jim Quinn, Wade Mosby,
and Tim Bishop board the Company plane.
Full Steam Ahead
Quinn found what he was looking for at Collins Pine. He blew in the door that Lastofka walked out of, and in typical Quinn fashion, he blew in at two speeds - fast and faster. He faced a number of problems that had been festering for a long time. It started with fiefdoms. There were three: Kane Hardwood in Kane, Pennsylvania; Fremont Sawmill in Lakeview and Paisley, Oregon; and Collins Pine Company in Chester, California. Not only were many of the employees unaware that they were all part of the same company, their customers were unaware, too. Quinn decided to integrate the operations, and while he was at it, he folded all the different monikers under one name - The Collins Companies.
If that wasn't enough to do, there were the timber wars - environmentalists against timber companies; timber companies against timber companies; environmentalists against environmentalists; and a heap of public and political consternation thrown in to add a little spice. To top off Quinn's plate of problems, he had underperforming mills, and his own foresters wanted to storm the citadel and see if the emperor had any brains.
Quinn's vision was to bring the Company together. And together meant doing some things differently. His first hire, Wade Mosby, was the beginning of that change. Wade took on the position of vice president of marketing. There had never been a vice president of marketing, or a director of marketing, or even a marketing consultant.
"Jim was trying to get an identity in the marketplace for Collins. In 1990, we were four sawmills with everyone acting independently. We were not very well known except by our customers. We put out quality products, and we were known for our integrity, but we were pretty disjointed with each local manager having a lot of power." -Wade Mosby
Shuffling the Deck
To achieve coherence, consistency, and a more stable balance sheet, Quinn began shuffling the deck. Larry Potts took over the helm in Chester, and finally, with the family's reluctant support, disbanded the employee logging crew. The mill, originally built in 1942-43, was upgraded, and new technology was installed. In Pennsylvania, Dale Slate came on, and the mill began to be productive again.
But none of this was done without its costs - its human costs. For a company and a family that prided itself on loyalty and long-term employment, they were faced with a Hobson's choice - which was no choice at all. Tighten the ship or watch it sink altogether of its own weight. They chose the former, and by doing so, the majority kept their jobs and their salaries and their benefits, and the communities were kept intact.
One of the companies not on the battlefield during the "Woods Wars" was Collins Pine. Collins was quietly following Truman's legacy of sustainable forestry.
The timber wars centered around the
destruction of habitat for the
spotted owl, salmon, and other species.
"Amid the raucous national debates over logging the great pine and fir forests of the West, the Collins Almanor Forest [in Chester, California], is a remarkably tranquil sanctuary� Why such a quietude? For more than 50 years, the small, family-owned timber company has practiced a kind of sustained-yield, selective harvest management that is a relative oddity in the industry but wins plaudits from the environmental community." -Tom Kenworthy (The Washington Post)
So what's the problem? The problem was Collins was doing good work, they were being stewards of their land, and they were managing their resources for the future, but they were caught in the middle. On one side there were those who couldn't see the future of a forest because they had an owl over their eyes. On the other side were those that figured clear-cutting was the fastest way to the bank. What's a small family-owned company to do? If you're Jim Quinn, Wade Mosby, and the Collins family, it's fight the fight with who and what you are.
"Here's Collins Pine, who'd been managing their forests sustainably for 60-plus years. We'd never done any clear-cutting in that time, and had a bigger mixture of larger trees than anybody else that we weren't getting rewarded for." -Jim Quinn
The rewards, if that's what you call it, began taking shape in 1991 when Wade Mosby returned from a business trip to Denmark.
"I was in Denmark with a client when someone came into a meeting saying, 'We're being picketed. I just left the distribution yard and we've got Greenpeace out there.' These guys were really scared. They thought they were going to lose their market in Europe because of the public outcry led by Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund. One of the things they said was, 'We've got to get certified to sell our timber.' It was really obvious that things were changing, and there was no doubt in my mind that what happens in Europe really does reach North America." -Wade Mosby
So Wade came back and talked with Quinn about the idea of certification. After doing some research, they found a credible company, Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), that would do an in depth, independent audit of their forests. Quinn and Mosby had found their niche and the family heartily agreed.
Not In My Forest
The first forest to undergo the rigorous certification audit was the Collins Almanor Forest in Chester. The foresters there were not happy. In fact, it's fair to say they were downright hostile.
"Bill Howe, who had just taken over as forest manager in Chester, went ballistic. It was an insult. It was an affront. And he was mad as hell." -Wade Mosby
People took to the streets to protest the
often led to the degradation
of the forest ecosystem.
Bill and his team of foresters figured they'd done a damn good job, and they weren't ready to let some yahoos come into their forest to tell them what to do. They came anyway. The team was headed by Dr. Robert Hrubes, a registered professional forester, a forest economist, and a man who was known to loggers as "the guy who presented testimony for the Sierra Club." To a forester, who already had his back up, that's code for an "enviro." Dr. Hrubes was joined by Debbie Hammel, SCS director of forest programs; Dr. Trygve Steen, biologist; Roy Keene, logging and forest health specialist; and Greg Harty, professional forester. The study was conducted through a series of field investigations. In the business that means "boots" on the ground, not butts in the office. To make their evaluation, they looked at three major areas: timber sustainability, forest ecosystem maintenance, and socio-economic benefits to the community.
Collins not only passed, but the 1993 executive summary concluded that their scores "serve as a standard of excellence for other owners of North American mixed conifer timberland to emulate." The Collins Almanor Forest became the first privately-owned forest in the United States to receive this independent certification.
The Collins Pennsylvania Forest
Not in My Forest, Either
The Collins Pennsylvania Forest was next up, and the foresters there were as unhappy and hostile to the certification process as Bill and his team had been.
"I was terribly apprehensive about it. Actually, I was opposed to it. I couldn't imagine how a bunch of people could come out here, see how we manage our forest, and understand what it is we're doing.
We called the president, Mr. Quinn, and asked him if he really knew what he was doing and why he was doing it. He said, 'I want to increase public trust in what we're doing.' And I said, 'Well, the public knows that we're doing okay.' After several of these types of arguments, he finally said, 'Well, because I'm the president and I said so.'" -Blaine Puller
That was 1994 and the Collins Pennsylvania Forest received the SCS seal of approval and again the foresters came to understand and appreciate the process. In 1998, the Collins Lakeview Forest followed suit, making all three Collins forests certified. The awards and recognition started pouring in. But more than all the hoopla, the vision that had started with Truman Collins was now alive and flourishing, as were the forests, almost 60 years later.
How Green Can You Get?If you're Quinn and company and the Collins family, sustainability doesn't just stop in the forests.
"The environment isn't out there. We're in it and we are proud of it. I'll never forget the eye opener of learning that what we do in terms of using materials and energy impacts the environment." -Connie Grenz
Enter The Natural Step, an international environmental organization dedicated to shifting people and businesses away from linear, resource-wasting, toxic-spreading methods of materials handling and manufacturing toward cyclical resource-preserving methods. That's a mouthful. But what it boils down to is - look upstream, way upstream, and then ask yourself, what are the long-term consequences of my actions?
Collins became the first forest products company in the U.S. to adapt these principles into their manufacturing and office facilities.
A Horse of a Different Color
Collins Products - Klamath Falls
The fiefdoms were now working together, the mills had made management changes, Bobby Evans decided to retire at Fremont Sawmill, and Paul Harlan took over his position. Certification was progressing through each of the forests, and now it was time to make the boldest move yet. Wade had heard through the forest grapevine that the Weyerhaeuser Corporation in Klamath Falls, Oregon, wanted to sell their hardboard siding, plywood, and particleboard plants. Purchasing these would be a chance to diversify the Company's product mix by moving into the expanding field of engineered wood products.
There was just one problem. The acquisition would mean debt, and the family was absolutely debt-adverse. They'd been operating on a pay-as-you-go system since 1855, and they weren't about to change now.
Talk, talk, figure, figure, think, think, then do it all over again. On August 31, 1996, Quinn and company got their way. The family said go and the purchase was made. Dale Slate moved out from Kane to manage the new operation, and Lee Richardson was hired to take his place in Kane.
Exit Stage Left
Quinn and his team had pretty much accomplished what they set out to do.
"Jim took us from being caretakers to solidifying our forest base. He shuffled the deck in the management group, brought us market recognition, and changed the culture." -Wade Mosby
Jim Quinn retired on January 1, 2001. The mantle now passed. Again.
Eric Lon Schooler
Eric Lon Schooler
A Sawmill Kid
It had been a long time since a president of The Collins Companies grew up with sawdust in the air. Born August 12, 1950, in the town of Raymond, on the coast of Washington, was just the beginning of Eric Schooler's initiation to the culture of sawmills. His dad worked his entire career for Weyerhaeuser, moving from one mill town to another - Raymond, Marysville, Sumner, and Aberdeen.
"I didn't like all the moving around. As a consequence, I decided not to work for a big company like Weyerhaeuser because I felt that was unfair to families. Although, in retrospect, it probably helped me to be more comfortable in meeting new people in unfamiliar situations." -Eric Schooler
What the sawdust and small towns didn't stop him from doing was becoming a premier athlete. Basketball, baseball, and football all helped hone his competitive skills and instincts, traits he carries to this day in his work.
Eric Schooler went on to become an
all-state basketball star in high
school and on into college.
"I was so passionate about sports that it didn't seem like work. I feel the same way about work. I couldn't be very successful, and it wouldn't really be as fun. I think if you can't find a job that you enjoy, it would be a sorry lot." -Eric Schooler
When You Come to a Y in the Road, Take it
Eric Schooler became president of The Collins Companies on July 28, 2000. Jim Quinn may have been the vision man, but Eric Schooler was the nuts-and-bolts man. Eric graduated from Central Washington University, married Dianne Silver, and started work with Publisher's Paper Company. Mills were in his blood and he wasn't much interested in exorcising them. Several mill jobs later he landed at Hampton Affiliates as vice president of manufacturing, overseeing sawmills in Oregon and Washington.
"I was with Hampton for about thirteen or fourteen years and I really enjoyed it. But I felt like I wanted to have the opportunity to lead the whole team rather than be one of the pillars of management." -Eric Schooler
Robert Wharton and Mike Zojonc
So like Yogi Berra said, he took the Y in the road and became the eighth president since 1855 of The Collins Companies.
Move the Ball
While his legacy is still being created, Eric has already shuffled his deck of cards and moved the Company to reflect his own priorities and those of the Collins family. The changes under his leadership include three essential ingredients: open communications, employee input (for real and not for show), and doing the "right thing." He likes creating teams, empowering them with responsibility, and sharing the burden. If you're uncomfortable with change, Eric's probably not your choice as a boss. Ditto for being challenged.
Jay Francis with his favorite friend, Maxx
He's instituted employee surveys that are actually read and acted on. He's hired a number of new people who reflect his work ethic, some of which include Mike Zojonc as general manager in Chester, Kerry Hart as general manager in Lakeview, and Lee Flederjohann as resource manager in Lakeview. He and the Collins family stepped up to a very expensive plate and tore the old mill down in Chester, then built a new state-of-the-art softwood mill. Expanding the hardwood side of the Company, a high quality hardwood mill was purchased from Georgia Pacific in Richwood, West Virginia. This brought on board a loyal crew who have expanded an operation that began in 1911. Richwood's plant manager, Ernest Lake also brings years of experience to the hardwood business.
Kerry Hart joined the Collins team in 2000
as the Fremont Sawmill manager in
If Collins becomes fiercely competitive, it will be thanks to Eric Schooler. If the mills become even more well-oiled, efficient, and productive, it will be because everyone is working toward the same goal and chasing it with the same passion as Eric. The future of the forests under his guidance will no doubt be to continue being the environmental conscience of the industry, but he will also continue raising the bar and asking, "Can't we do it better?"
The Woods Man
Terry graduated from Willamette University as a psychology major, did advance work in chemistry and botany from the University of Portland, and spent a year at Washington State's School of Forestry. When it was all said and done, it was the woods that drew his attention.
Terry Collins takes a break from his work
as a forester for the Collins Companies.
"I've always felt like I was marching to a different drummer. I wanted to be my own person. I didn't want to be a carbon copy of my dad. At one time, I thought I'd like to be a farmer or a craftsman. But when it came right down to it, the more I was involved with forestry, the more it seemed like most of the attributes I had could be put to use in forestry." -Terry Collins
And those attributes didn't include sashaying into the job of president. Most men in his situation would have. There's power there and prestige. For Terry it was, and is, all about trees. He's been a forester for the Company in Chester, Lakeview, and Kane. Currently, Terry serves on the board of The Collins Companies and is president of the family's timberland companies. In addition, he continues to work as a forester in Kane and Chester.
Truman Wesley Collins, Jr.
From Computer Chips to Stewardship
Truman and Kristin at Collins
Pine Company at Chester CA.
With an undergraduate degree in math / computer science and economics from Willamette University, coupled with a M.A. in computer science from Stanford University, Truman has certainly followed his talents. But he is also very involved in The Collins Companies where he serves on the board, and the Collins Foundation where he succeeded his mother, Maribeth, as president.
"I feel very strongly about the sustainable management of our forestlands, making sure they are biologically, ecologically, and economically healthy. It's important to make choices that are good for the long-term health of the Company, good for the employees, and good for the environment. If that means having to do something over the short-term that's more difficult than we want, then we'll do it." -Truman W. Collins, Jr
In Good Hands
If minding the store, and in this case, the Company, has anything to do with family commitment, consider the fourth generation of Collinses good managers. Three out of the four of Truman and Maribeth Collins' children are active, involved, and passionate about the future of the Company, as well as the forests they work in and oversee, and the employees and communities they work with.
The Fourth Generation
From left to right: Tim, Cheri,
Truman Jr., and Terry Collins
Who's Minding the Store?
While there has not always been a Collins as president of the Company, there has always been a Collins family member as chairman of the board. Maribeth Collins stepped became chairman of the board when Elmer Goudy retired from that position. The year was 1974, and Maribeth served in that capacity, actively served in that capacity, until 2005, when at the age of 86 she turned over the reins to her daughter, Cheri Collins Smith.
Cherida Collins Smith
Cheri, like her brothers Tim, Terry, and Truman, Jr., all had been in and out of the sawmill in Chester since they were just out of diapers. And why not? Their mom and dad, Maribeth and Truman, had spent part of their five day honeymoon in Chester watching the first mill being built. It was in their blood and, frankly, they liked it that way. After Cheri's marriage to Glenn Smith, they turned around and took their children to Chester, too.
Cherida Collins Smith and Family
"When our kids were little, we started right away taking them to Chester every year. That's what my parents had done with us, and I really wanted to do that. We'd take them to the mill and let them watch the whole process." -Cheri Smith
For Cheri, like her brothers, that early passion grew to a commitment to serve on the board of both The Collins Companies and the Collins Foundation. With an undergraduate degree in economics from Willamette University, to an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, Cheri has brought more to the board, than the name of Collins. She has brought her thoughtful, incisive mind, her integrity and values, her respect for people, and her dedication to preserving the heritage of sustainable forestry
"I'm very proud of the Company's commitment to environmental stewardship. In fact, it's one of the things I feel best about. Sustained-yield forestry nurtures a healthy forest at the same time that it nurtures the community. It was wonderful foresight of my father to plan it this way, and it's more important now than it ever has been."
Terry and Tim with their clarinets
"We need to work a lot harder as a culture to be more sustainable in the way we live and not be such heavy consumers. I'm not immune to that myself. I think The Natural Step is a wonderful way to think about everything you do, and I'm pleased that the Company is integrating that into how we make business decisions." -Cherida Collins Smith
Terry Stanton Collins / Timothy Wilson Collins
Terry and his identical twin brother, Tim, were Maribeth and Truman's first born. They both took to the woods, but it was Terry who decided to make it his life's work. Tim followed his own muse pursuing advanced degrees, including a master's in theoretical mathematics from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Michigan State University.
The Fifth Generation
In terms of family-owned businesses, the odds of making it to the fifth active generation is somewhere around two percent, maybe less. That's a lot of weight to carry if you're the one who is 150 years removed from the seed tree. You're not the person who ran the grist mill at 3:00 am. You've never been waist high in water, hauling logs out of a freezing creek. On the other hand, you were never handed a silver spoon at birth, but that's only because your family's values didn't allow it.
The Fifth Generation
The Next Generation
As of now, three have already worked in the woods and the offices of the Company, from Kane to Chester to Portland. Like the generations before them, they've been kicking sawdust in the mills and walking the woods since they were old enough to talk. The values of honesty and integrity have passed unchanged. The long-held belief that if you are given more, then more is expected of you, still influences the way they live their lives. Wealth isn't splashed around, and respect isn't given to only a precious few. This generation, like the ones who have gone before them, walk this earth quietly and refuse to carry a big stick.