Oregon-Canadian Forest Products
- Written by: Jeanee Dudley
- Produced by: Lindsey McKenna
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
In 1977, Wayne Holm founded Oregon-Canadian Forest Products (OCFP) as a small lumber wholesale operation. With one secretary and two salesmen, the growing company began in the wholesale market, buying lumber from sawmills and distributing it directly to customers. As the market shifted and the industry changed, larger companies began to consolidate production, many eliminating high-grade lumber processing. The OCFP team saw this as an opportunity in the market and stepped up to fill the niche.
Wayne has since passed the business down to his son, Mike Holm, current president of OCFP. “I graduated high school in 1980 and worked summers and vacations for the company,” Mike recounts. “I went to college to get an education and play baseball, but I knew this was a natural fit. I started in the plant and eventually worked my way into the office doing sales.”
Mike now leads a team of approximately 100 out of the company’s main office in North Plains, Ore. The company has become the largest manufacturer of high-grade Douglas fir lumber in the United States, and Mike says, possibly the world.
“We also process western hemlock and western red cedar,” he notes. “We have a large plant with every type of equipment a sawmill needs other than a primary breakdown or Headrig. We have dry kilns, planers, molders, edger’s, cut lines, resaws and sorting chains.”
Taking Care of Business
OCFP purchases raw material from around the Pacific Northwest, including wood from British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Northern California, Idaho and Montana. The company purchases the high-grade lumber that develops from logs, most of this lumber arrives at OCFP’s plant in a rough green form. “The finished products are high-end interior trim packages or raw material for another company that is making something out of the lumber,” Mike explains.
The sales team often works with architects to manufacture custom patterns for high-end homes. Outside of the custom market, OCFP’s clients include wholesale distribution, processors further down the line, such as millwork houses, a few large specialty retailers, as well as commercial distributors, such as Home Depot and Lowes.
Mike and his team have further extended OCFP’s reach into the market with two fully owned subsidiaries. Industrial Pine Products in Newbury, S.C., produces components for the trucking trailer industry, as well as high-end residential decking from tropical hardwoods.
“We bought the property and developed it in response to the requests from one of our longtime clients,” Mike explains. “They had been using Douglas fir to manufacture skylights, but wanted to switch materials out of environmental concern to southern yellow pine. They didn’t want to look for another supplier so they asked if we could do it. Now we have a second, small plant on the other side of the country.”
Additionally, OCFP has another small operation, Andina Floristal, in Bolivia. The company works with local landowners and sawmills, taking close care to maintain responsible and sustainable forestry practices.
Managing a Distinct Market Share
With the housing market in a recent slump back home, OCFP has faced a number of challenges in recent years. “In 2008, our goals were to have 500,000 feet going out every week, which was a formula that worked for us,” Mike explains. “We dropped to around 300,000 feet per week for about two years, and then jumped up to around 400,000. Right now we are doing about 350,000 per week. The demographic just isn’t there. Most of this wood is for expensive homes, which people are not building. We have had to downsize our infrastructure to meet the changes in our industry.”
Still, Mike sees potential for growth. The business has room to expand with practices tightened up. Mike has recently hired a larger sales team, including a specialist in products for the Japanese market. “We are hoping to increase our volume in the next year or so,” he notes. “For now we are just trying to hold our own in what seems to be a shrinking industry. When you get into that situation, you look at every little piece of the business. We have downsized management, crew and support staff across the board to accommodate this new normal. I think we are doing well now. We made money throughout the downturn due to our adjustments. Still, the situation is not as good as it should be for how hard we work and how much we put into the business.”
The national economy is showing signs of improvement. With a little luck and more hard work, Mike and his team are looking forward to a return to growth in the coming years. The team’s tight management and increasing diversity in products and services will continue to attract clients looking for high-end, durable wood products. Oregon-Canadian Forest Products is looking ahead, providing unique lumber solutions to a growing market of retailers and homebuilders.
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