Timber Products Has 'Tree-mendous' Presence

Rick Montoya, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Timber Products Company, has come full circle. After nearly two decades with another firm in the wood-products industry, he departed the business in 2008. The ensuing years were filled with a series of adventures as Montoya tried on different hats: restaurant owner/operator, CEO coach, call center president, director of marketing with a large equipment distributor, and consultant, to name a few. Now, eight years later, not only is he back in the building materials field – he’s better. Although he holds the same executive title as he did during his previous stint in the industry, Montoya says his broad experiences in the interim primed him with new insight, energy, and enthusiasm for his position at this “super-cool” manufacturing company. 

That firm--Springfield, Ore.-based Timber Products Company--operates under the banner “The Tremendous Resource,” sometimes written as the “Tree-mendous Resource.” The playful take on the company tagline speaks to its unusual standing as a “seed-to-solution” manufacturer. With 114,000 acres of forestlands under ownership in northern California and multiple production locations, the vertically integrated firm is able to make veneer and particle board—and then send it to its own mills for processing into hardwood plywood. “If you look at our footprint and our facilities and everything we do, we really are a tremendous resource,” Montoya notes proudly. “We have these factories that crank out a myriad of building products-related items, and we have salespeople living throughout the country to service our distribution customers. Our customers are able to buy diverse products from us—from softwood plywood to hardwood plywood to particleboard to lumber to veneer to laminates—all on one order, out of Oregon. And get it delivered on our trucks!” 

Not only is Timber Products equipped to make many of its own products, its 150-rig trucking operation also gives it the wherewithal to move them around—whether hauling veneer, transferring products between plants, or shipping merchandise to customers. But as a wholly owned subsidiary of Timber Products Company, internal use is only about 25% of TP Trucking’s business—the other 75% is spent hauling anything from steel to boats to commodity building products for its customers. Isn’t it a little risky to run such a large fleet, one might ask, given the difficulty some industry insiders are having in replenishing an aging driver pool? No, Montoya responds, not when your company has invested in generous benefits packages and safer, top-of-the-line vehicles with automatic transmissions. Then, he suggests, recruiting becomes a snap. “The team has really done a great job of creating an atmosphere where drivers want to come and work for Timber Products,” he continues, proposing—only half-jokingly—that he might even want to get behind the wheel himself after retirement because the trucks are so comfortable and beautiful. Montoya also notes that in addition to buzz within the driver community, job fairs, referral rewards, and social media outreach have helped make potential hires aware of the amenities and other advantages of driving jobs at the company.

The vehicle fleet isn’t the only place where social media is coming into play, according to Montoya. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and blogging are all increasingly important facets in marketing—particularly as it pertains to distributor partners. In his early years in the wood-products industry, he recalls, it was practically unheard of for a distributor to have a marketing person on staff. That’s no longer true, Montoya believes, based on the increasing number of distribution outfits he sees with three- to four-person marketing teams. Now when he makes sales calls, Montoya says he requests an audience with the marketing personnel, too. “So I’m saying ‘let’s hook our marketing department up with your marketing department and start to build some synergies,’” he says. As an example, the sales and marketing exec cites an experience at this year's IWF trade show held recently in Atlanta, Ga. Montoya’s team shot video of one of Timber Products’ distribution partners working their booth at the event. At the request of the distribution firm, they shared the clip via a YouTube link. “They’re posting a video from our YouTube channel,” he explains. “It’s a neat way of marketing working with marketing.”

Montoya sees a wealth of untapped opportunity in marketing and believes that connecting with distributors via promotions, targeted advertising, and other strategies will pay off handsomely. The key, he says, is to flesh out ways to partner with distributors that already have marketing. Equally important is determining how to support smaller outfits that may not have the expertise or dollars to invest in websites and landing pages, social media, analytics, and the like on their own. “It’s another way of being a value-added partner,” Montoya figures, “by providing them with things that help them sell more plywood and help us sell our plywood through them.” Other strategies Timber Products has adopted toward this end include a new, dynamic email marketing program and high-quality lead cultivation and follow-through.

Even Timber Products’ newly redesigned responsive website, of which Montoya is extremely proud, is a useful tool for its distribution customers. With it, he says, a distributor salesperson on their mobile phone or device can easily find products or information on corporate locations--all by using just a thumb to easily call the manufacturer, easily fill out and download a PDF, email a PDF to a customer, or print and send reader-friendly web pages as PDFs. “We have significantly stepped ahead in terms of providing a resource to distributors of everything that Timber Products Company does on their phone at the point of interaction with their customer in real time, as long as there’s a cell connection.”

Technical innovation aside, the ideological aspect of distributor relations is not lost on Montoya, who believes a sea of change could be on the horizon in the fundamental way the two stakeholders interact. “How we deliver and communicate to our distributors and their salespeople, whereas it used to be ride-alongs and getting in front of them, may be shifting in that we need to make it so they’re able to find good training and information on our products on a real-time basis without us necessarily being there,” he explains. Customer portals and stronger websites are examples of approaches manufacturers can take to ensure that their distribution partners are effective and efficient in the field, have the know-how they need, or have the resources to get that information. “How, in a world that’s so fast, we make sure that our distributors are armed and equipped with information is, I believe, a growing need,” Montoya surmises. That might include information about new products, which distributors need to pass along to end-users. Or, increasingly, it might have to do with the wave of regulations that continue to flood the wood-products industry, including EPA’s imminent TSCA Title VI rule governing formaldehyde emissions. “It was asked how distributors stay on top of that…we have to stay on top of that for them.”

It’s a lot of responsibility, but Montoya says it’s not all work and no play. Timber Products Company actively seeks out opportunities to create fun for distributor partners even as they work hard to succeed. An example is the multi-day, multi-artist Country Crossings 2017 music festival of which the manufacturer is a sponsor. This year’s event will take place in Medford, Ore., July 27-30, where several of the company’s plants are located—and available for tours.

In a couple of years, Timber Products Company will recognize its centennial anniversary. Montoya suspects the manufacturer will mark the occasion humbly and quietly, and by expressing gratitude to employees, customers, and suppliers. Going forward, he predicts that the company—a new NBMDA Gold Education Donor—will continue to learn from the organization and contribute to it, nurturing the kind of distributor relationships and synergies that could see it through its next 100 years.

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