The Stimson Lumber Company's facility in Gaston Oregon is really two manufacturing plants in one. They produce dimension lumber at their sawmill and hardboard products next door at their hardboard plant; it's a fine combination for the company because the hardboard plant uses the wood chips and sawdust from the sawmill to produce hardboard 24/7.
If you've ever walked into a store, relaxed on furniture, or worked on projects in your garage, chances are you've been around hardboard. It's used in construction, cabinetry, furniture, store fixtures all over the world, and is most commonly recognized as the peg board found in many a garage.
In the production process the wood chip and sawdust pulp is exploded under pressure. Heat and steam is applied to leave fine, fluffy brown fibers. These fibers are then transformed into mats, which are held together with resin and alum. The mats are then pressed between steam-heated metal plates to give grainless sheets with one smooth, glossy surface and one textured surface.
Like any 24/7 manufacturing operation, Stimson Lumber needs qualified people who can work safely and efficiently to produce a high quality product. Where does a manufacturer find trusted workers? For Production and Powerhouse Superintendent Paul Yackley the answer is veterans.
"Mostly at this site I've used vet reps, Paul explains. "They've actually come on site and looked at the kind of skill sets we're looking for here. And then from that, when I had a job that was opening I would contact one of the vet reps and they would select a few people to come in to interview. What's nice about it is that they know by coming here what we are looking for."
Paul also works with WorkSource Oregon Employment Department veterans' representatives to route screened veteran candidates to a staffing service for temporary-to-permanent positions. This way Stimson's can see how workers perform during a trial period and decide whether to hire them into regular positions.
On the special skills that veterans bring to the job, Paul has an insightful perspective, since he too is a veteran.
"They've already gone through that structured training program and it really makes it easier for them to come into our workforce with those skills and discipline. They've got some good education; usually a very good work ethic and they're usually a very good fit here," Paul says.
The benefits of working with veterans' representatives has really paid dividends for Stimson Lumber, and they understand that there is more to the relationship than the bottom line, but it always helps to have a healthy bottom line. The veterans' representatives in the Portland Metro region have saved the company valuable screening and interviewing time and were responsive to their hiring needs so that open positions could be filled quickly.
"I remember Veteran Representative Kurt Carlsen (Hillsboro) sent me a guy," Paul recalls. "The next day we interviewed him, and boom, he was on. Now anytime you expedite the hiring process you're saving money and you're getting someone into your workforce quicker so you're not paying overtime to fill those slots."
Paul says he has built a great relationship with area veterans' representatives. "They are a very professional group of people and I think they take pride in their work. It's a good cause."
Stimson Lumber also takes its relationship with the nation's veterans seriously. They were honored by veteran organizations last year for their contributions to the Washington County Veterans' Assistance Fund that helps veterans overcome barriers to work by providing tools, transportation and training. They also employ current members of the Oregon National Guard and reserves. That requires the company to make accommodations for their military service on duty weekends and when they are deployed for active duty.
"One individual we have right now is on a schedule where work will definitely fall on his reserve weekends, Paul says. "So we have to work around that schedule, but hey, that's a sacrifice we make for the country. If he's making that sacrifice, its a little sacrifice for Stimson's.