Red Wing, Minn.— ‘Lumber Lou’ Chicquette is now in his 67th year as an active lumberman.
Born in 1924 near Bay City, Wis., he grew up in the River Town community and finished high school in 1941. After local and Twin Cities employment, Chicquette enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He was in the Air Cadet program twice and eventually flew his combat missions as a B29 Tail Gunner bombing and mining targets in Japan and Korea in WWII.
After discharge from the military he was a partner in a successful commercial fishing enterprise until September of 1946 when he formed a partnership with Dale Tyler, purchasing the Esdaile Box and Lumber Company, located in Bay City, Wis. By doing so he became the third generation in his family to pursue a profession in the industry. His father, who passed away in 1932, was a lumberman in Western Wisconsin and his grandfather had been a logger in the same area before the turn of the century.
At one point Esdaile was producing 50,000 to 60,000 fish boxes per year, 80 percent of which were purchased by Lake Pepin Fish Companies. Also during this time the partnership leased a Service Station and started a Wholesale Beer Distribution. As the fishing business waned Chicquette became more involved in the manufacturing of industrial type boxes and containers, pallets and also increased his sawmill production with the No. 1 Common and Better grade lumber to end users and distribution yards and the balance was used internally. In 1955 the partnership was amiably dissolved with Chicquette keeping the lumber side.
By 1975 Webster Lumber Company purchased Chicquette’s holdings and he agreed to come along as part of the purchase. One of his first assignments was to set up a pallet operation at the company’s grain door manufacturing site in Spokane, Wash. in early 1976. He managed that facility until it was sold in late 1977. Chicquette continued to work with management developing markets of wood chips, wood waste and domestic, as well as export veneer logs.
He became the sales manager for lumber in 1978, marketing and buying green, air dried and kiln dried lumber. He was appointed vice president of Hardwood lumber sales in 1980.
Chicquette is very involved in the industry. He was a member of the National Hardwood Lumber Association, for which he served on the board for six years. He was one of the founders of the Lake States Lumber Association in 1983 and also served as president. When asked what he considers the key to longevity in the Hardwood business, Chiquette said, “Loyalty has a lot to do with any successful venture and private enterprise. For those that are new in this industry you need to remember to be mindful of continuing to take care of the forests. That is an important factor to remaining in this business and certainly something to be proud of. Even with land being taken and cleared for development, which is bound to happen in a strong and vibrant nation such as ours, the growth is still exceeding the cut. We’re doing a good job of managing the resource and we need to continue to keep that in the forefront of what we do.”
Chicquette also became involved in several activities outside of the industry. He is an active Legionnaire and 40/8er, and has served twice as Post Commander of Post 357, for which he is a Life Member. He is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, International War Veterans and a 32nd degree Mason and Shriner. He has served as director and past president of the former Hager City Telephone Company, now known as Hager Telecom.
Chicquette continues to serve on committees at his church. He has also been involved in youth activities such as Boy Scouts and Boys State. He was the originator and president of Pierce County Youth Services Inc., a non-profit organization that provides medical assistance for children of low-income families not eligible for aid from State and Federal agencies.
After retiring from Webster’s Lou moved to Red Wing, Minn., to be closer to family living in Bay City and began with Rockland Flooring Company as a consultant and lumber buyer. Rockland Flooring Company operates four truck bed flooring plants in Red Wing, Minn., Rockland, Wis., Monon, Ind. and West Lorne, Ontario, Canada and a cabinet plant in Hastings, Minn. “After starting at Rockland, I formed a great relationship with Marc Chorney, the CEO and a young man of many talents,” Chicquette said.
He and his wife Inez have been married for over 60 years and have two children, Louis Jeffrey, a professor at Oshkosh University and Carole Anne, a retired kindergarten teacher. They have four grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
Chicquette has been an ardent Packer fan since 1938 and has attended major league baseball games in 25 of the 30 stadiums. He has fished and hunted in Canada, the Northwest Territories, Alaska and areas in the continental U.S. Chicquette was an amateur baseball player until 38 years of age and also enjoyed the game of golf.
Lou Chiquette can be contacted at 651-388-6150. For more information about Rockland Flooring Company visit www.rocklandflooring.com.