Presentation of Industry Medals
John Murphy, Chairman, APA Board of Trustees
I would like now, as a crowning finale to this very eventful evening, to present some centennial awards to some extraordinary people for extraordinary contributions to our industry. There are four awards in all, and the winners were selected by APA staff in consultation with several longtime industry executives.
GUSTAV CARLSON MEDAL FOR PROCESS INNOVATION:
The first is called the Gustav Carlson Medal for Process Innovation, and it is being awarded tonight in recognition of the recipient’s lifetime contributions to the technological advancement of the plywood industry. Gustav Carlson, by the way, for those who may not know, was a co-owner of Portland Manufacturing Company, the small wooden box company that produced the first commercial softwood plywood, right here in Portland, 100 years ago—in 1905.
The winner of this award is Fred Fields of Coe Manufacturing Company, one of the world’s undisputed leaders in mill machinery design and manufacturing.
Fred, would you please come up to accept your medal.
Fred Fields joined Coe in 1947 in the company’s engineering group. He advanced in short order to field and sales engineering, then to West Coast Manager, and then in 1962 to vice president.
But Fred was only getting started. In 1976, he bought the company and became its president, a title he held for another 23 years, until retiring in 2000.
Fred’s career at Coe spanned an incredible 53 years. When he joined the company’s Portland office, he was one of just four employees there. Today, the Tigard plant alone, which he urged be built in 1960, employs 250. And the company’s total work force today is on the order of 750.
When one thinks of the rotary veneer lathe, the veneer dryer, or the computerized X-Y charger, one thinks of Coe Manufacturing Company. And when one thinks of Coe, one thinks of Fred Fields.
Fred, on behalf of the worldwide plywood industry, thank you for your lifetime contributions, and congratulations.
BRONSON LEWIS MEDAL FOR INDUSTRY GROWTH:
The next award is the Bronson Lewis Medal for Industry Growth. Bronson Lewis, of course, was executive vice president of American Plywood Association from 1969 to 1984, a period that saw tremendous industry growth, including the advent of OSB.
The judges had a tough time identifying a clear winner for this award because so many individuals have contributed in so many ways to the growth of our industry. Finally, it was recognized that the clear winner was not an individual, but an entire company. That company, I think we can all agree, is Georgia-Pacific Corporation, the world’s largest plywood manufacturer.
I would like to ask Ronnie Paul, G-P’s executive vice president, wood products, to please come up to accept this medal.
Georgia-Pacific was founded in 1927 as Georgia Hardwood Lumber Company, a hardwood lumber wholesaler. The company became Georgia-Pacific Plywood Company in 1951 and in 1953 moved its headquarters from Augusta, Georgia to Olympia, Washington.
It moved again the following year to Portland and in 1956 became Georgia-Pacific Corporation. In 1963, as we saw in the video program, G-P built the country’s first southern pine plywood mill, in Fordyce, Arkansas—a huge development in the expansion of the industry—and three years later completed construction of its fourth and fifth plywood mills.
Georgia-Pacific has been known over the years as one of the country’s premier integrated forest products companies, with interests at various times and levels in paper making, chemicals, distribution, timberlands and building products.
But we recognize the company tonight for its leadership specifically in the softwood plywood industry. G-P today owns 19 softwood plywood mills in 10 states. And its softwood plywood production exceeds that of any other manufacturer in the world.
Georgia Pacific plywood research programs, marketing programs, mill safety programs have all become hallmarks of the industry. In short, no other company in the softwood plywood business has played a more pivotal role over as long a period as Georgia-Pacific Corporation.
Congratulations, and thank you, Ronnie, for accepting this medal on behalf of Georgia-Pacific.
W.E. DIFFORD MEDAL FOR INDUSTRY CONTRIBUTION:
The next two medals honor individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the collective interests of our industry. We are calling the award the W.E. Difford Medal, after the legendary leader of the Douglas Fir Plywood Association during the 1930s, 40s, 50s and 60s.
Again, with this award we had difficulty picking a winner. There are so many who are worthy candidates. In the end, it came down to two, and so we decided to call it a draw, and present the award to both individuals. The first, I am pleased to announce, is Paul Ehinger. Paul, would you please come up to the podium.
Paul’s half century of service to our industry began when, as a young man, he graduated with a forestry degree from the University of Michigan. After short stints with the Forest Service and then with K.B. Wood Forest Engineers here in Portland, Paul began a 31-year career with Edward Hines Lumber Company at Westfir, Oregon, eventually rising to senior vice president.
Paul also has been a director of Lane Plywood in Eugene, Alpine Veneer in Portland, and Riley Creek Lumber Company in Idaho.
Paul joined the Board of Trustees of what was then the Douglas Fir Plywood Association in 1962, and continued on the Board until 1980, one of the longest tenures in the history of the Association. He was president of the Board from 1971 to 1973.
Paul also served during the 1970s as resource committee chairman and executive committee member of the National Forest Products Association, and was a director and executive committee member of the Western Wood Products Association in the 1960s and 70s.
Many of us best know Paul Ehinger through his consulting business, Paul F. Ehinger and Associates, which has been in operation now for some 22 years. It is safe to say, I think, that nobody knows the Pacific Northwest forest products business better than Paul Ehinger, or has done more to assist our industry with timely and accurate business information, data, counsel, wisdom, and enthusiasm.
A couple of years ago, in a trade magazine article, Paul humbly rejected a description of himself as an industry “elder statesmen.” But as that article noted, Paul’s “vast experience over so many years makes it difficult not to regard him as such.”
Paul, you are indeed one of our industry’s true statesmen, and we honor you tonight with this W.E. Difford medal for your contributions to the industry. Congratulations.
W.E. DIFFORD MEDAL FOR INDUSTRY CONTRIBUTION
Our second W.E. Difford Medal for industry contribution—and final award tonight—goes to another undisputed “elder statesman” of our industry—Don Deardorff.
Don, would you please come up.
Don Deardorff is another of those life-long plywood industry champions. His career began in the late 1940s, with a variety of plywood production jobs in western Oregon, including stints with Edward Hines Lumber Company and Weyerhaeuser.
His big break—or so the story goes at APA—came in 1958, when he joined the Douglas Fir Plywood Association as a quality supervisor, serving every mill in the Northwest, which at that time was the entire plywood industry.
Don left the Association in 1962 to become superintendent and later production manager of the Nordic Plywood plant in Sutherlin, Oregon. Two years later he joined Agnew Plywood at its Grants Pass operation. Then in 1972, with three other members of the Agnew organization, he bought the assets of the company and formed Fourply, Inc. Don was named president and general manager, and in 1980 became the sole owner. Then in 1984, he formed Eagle Veneer.
During the time that Don was building his company, he was also tirelessly helping to advance the interests of the entire industry. He was elected to the APA Board of Trustees in 1970, and served on the Board until 1998, including a term as chairman from 1979 to 1981. That’s a remarkable record of service.
A passionate advocate of the industry, Don also served on the Board of Directors of the American Wood Council and on the Board and Executive Committee of the National Forest Products Association. And he was president of NFPA for the 1982-83 term.
No name is more synonymous with the plywood industry—or with service to it—than the name Don Deardorff. Without question, he has been one of our industry’s best advocates, best leaders, and best friends.
It is an honor, Don, to present you this W.E. Difford medal for your lifetime service and contributions. Congratulations.