Growing Innovation in Family Business: That Surge of Excitement

Valerie Johnson, president of DR Johnson Lumber Co. in Riddle, Oregon, is leading her second-generation family business to the forefront of cutting edge timber product technologies.

Valerie will be the guest speaker at the April 20th Emerging Family Business Leaders Luncheon in Portland.


Growing Innovation in Family Business:  That Surge of Excitement

Valerie Johnson, of D.R. Johnson Lumber Co., is the second generation president of her family’s award winning lumber business.

“A surge of excitement about the potential upside…” is how Valerie describes the realization of cross laminated timber (CLT) as a new direction for the family’s once downsizing lumber company.

Through strategic partnerships and funding D.R. Johnson Lumber Co. is now on the world stage as the first certified US wood manufacturer of cross laminated timber (CLT) panels for the emerging “Timber Age” of construction.

CLT has been used in Europe since the 1990’s but Oregon is now also directly benefitting from this construction industry disruption with a new 12-story multi-family residence in the Pearl District and the Oregon Forest Science Complex on the OSU Corvallis campus, as well as a full production schedule of new CLT projects for 2018.

The Johnson family company founders were early innovators in the timber industry giving co-owners Valerie and her sister, Jodi Westbrooks, advantages in preparing for this revitalization of their business, industry and, potentially, the economic base of rural Oregon.

Q&A with Valerie Johnson

What is your favorite DR Johnson product?

That’s like asking someone who is their favorite child!  Actually, I do miss some of the products we used to make years ago but our log supply has changed over the years.  I am really proud of every product we make, but right now I would have to say that our new product, cross-laminated timber (CLT) is very exciting.

Where was your last family vacation destination?

Typically when we can all get away together, we spend time on ranch property our parents bought in 1967 in Wheeler County.  It’s clean air and great fun.

What family business book do you recommend most often?

The one that comes to mind right now isn’t only for families, but also one that I think is good for company managers: “The Question Behind the Question”, John G. Miller.  It focuses on personal accountability which I think is critical for family business succession.

What is your favorite family tradition?

Spending Memorial Day weekend together at the ranch I mentioned above, and Christmas morning—both create special, special memories.

What is the best advice you’ve given your children?

Be honest and earn your own way.

What was your best family business decision?

To keep the company going when our Dad was no longer able to lead.

What do you hope for your legacy?

It makes me uncomfortable to think of the word “legacy” in a sentence about me, but I hope when I’m gone I’m remembered as someone who did my best and I cared.

2018 Emerging Family Business Leaders Luncheon

Growing Innovation in Family Business:  That Surge of Excitement

Featuring Valerie Johnson, second-generation president of DR Johnson Lumber Co.

Friday, April 20th
11:30 A.M. to 1:00 P.M.
Multnomah Athletic Club, 1849 SW Salmon St, Portland, 97205

RSVP Online by April 16th. Open to next-generation family business leaders. Lunch will be included.