Softwood Forest Products Buyer


Feature Story


SWANSON GROUP INC. - Building a World Class Forest Products Company

Glendale, Ore.–When Swanson Group Inc. developed their Mission, Vision, and Values statement a few years ago they started out with a simple but ambitious vision to build a world class forest products company; one that is in control of its destiny and brings out the best in its employees. A worthy goal to be sure and the accompanying tenets listed to achieve that goal served to underscore the seriousness of the commitment the company made to meet their vision.

(L to R) Frank Peterson and Heath Grafton particpate in a planning session at Swanson Group Sales.
The downturn in housing starts and the subsequent drop in wood prices over the last three years presented a significant challenge to the company but Swanson Group has been able to stay the course and move forward with their stated mission and vision for their future. An article on the company’s Springfield plywood mill in the Softwood Buyer’s July/August 2009 issue illustrates Swanson’s commitment to invest in the capital improvements necessary to build a world class operation despite the difficult economic times we’re experiencing.

While reinvesting in operations to upgrade systems and creating more efficient and productive units are more visible to the outside world, the company is equally committed to building a top performing sales division that has a mandate to provide exceptional customer service. Working in small groups to determine those key factors that drive success in business, the sales team (Swanson Group Sales) is developing benchmark models that will ensure that the customer’s needs are being met. As Emeril would say “We’re kicking it up a notch,” by challenging conventional thinking to create a sales organization that is the supplier of choice to our customers. Order accuracy, on time shipments, response time to accounts and problem resolution are all areas that can and will be measured to determine how the sales group stands up to the competition.

Customers today require much more than simply a low price to remain competitive. Today’s business environment demands total management of the supply chain and being able to identify and meet those demands and needs from the marketplace is the aim of Swanson Group Sales.

Small groups are meeting at Swanson Group Sales to discuss how best to meet the needs of the customer.
Construction of a world-class organization needs a solid foundation to build upon and those anchors are found in the core values embedded in the company’s Mission, Vision and Values statement. Accountability, Commitment, Excellence, and Safety are the values that define Swanson Group. As an acronym these values form our four ACES and will be consistently demonstrated in the way we conduct our operations and interact with one another.

As a private, family-owned business the Swanson’s have always viewed the industry from a long term perspective; which is best illustrated by the fact that they were one of the first sawmills in Oregon to convert their mill from the traditional large old growth Doug-Fir logs to utilize the small second growth logs that were becoming more available. The company mission statement reads in part “Our core purpose is to create opportunities and long-term security for our employees, shareholders, and respective families”; a huge task given the economic climate of the last three years.

Earlier this year Swanson Group attained certification from SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) for fiber sourcing and all finished products are now identified with the SFI logo and is also being incorporated on all packaging and product literature. The fiber sourcing certification indicates that the procurement system at Swanson Group insures that the fiber supplied to the company’s manufacturing facilities in Oregon meets the SFI standard. The SFI certification also indicates that Swanson Group practices and promotes the use of Best Management Practices in harvesting operations to protect the raw material supply, water quality, air quality, soil, wildlife habitat and other important resources our forests provide. Participation in SFI and the use of the SFI label offers assurance to Swanson Group’s customers that the products they purchase are produced from raw materials harvested using sustainable forest practices.

Brent Hayes leads a discussion group to determine key success factors.
Swanson Group Sales Co. is the sales agent for the Swanson Group family of mills located in Oregon. Those operations include two green Doug-Fir dimension mills, a stud mill that produces kiln dry White Fir, Hem- Fir and Doug-Fir studs and two plywood mills. The stud and dimension mills are members of the Western Wood Products Assoc. (WWPA) and the plywood mills are members of the Engineered Wood Products Assoc. (APA). Swanson Group Sales also provides products not manufactured by the parent company in order to provide their customers with complete and total buying satisfaction.


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