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Niche Manufacturing Partners

In the late ‘50s, the traders had something of a gentlemen’s agreement with Charlie Patrick that they would be rewarded for the profits generated. That was enough to encourage traders to look for, and find, niche markets that could be serviced profitably. And that’s exactly what Bob McCracken did. Just 23 years old when he was hired, and under the watchful eye of Charlie Patrick sitting 10 feet away, McCracken started looking for sales opportunities that were outside of his assigned market sector.

He eventually found some tremendous opportunities in Australia, particularly. Patrick Lumber had been selling some wood to Australia and Europe before McCracken arrived, but it was Bob who was behind a monumental change in direction for the company that resulted in a huge market shift, from about 80% domestic orientation to about 80% export orientation. It wasn’t that export sales were displacing domestic sales so much as export sales were leading a tremendous growth spurt while domestic sales experienced only modest growth, a trend that would continue into the 1990s.

In addition to expanded sales in Australia and Europe, Patrick shipped significant quantities of dip-treated shake to American Somoa and other Pacific Islands. During a four-year period the Company shipped enough shakes to Pago Pago to cover more than 1,000 houses.

For a number of years Patrick Lumber had been in the business of remanufacturing rough green fir clears and by the early ‘60s, as the Company became more export-oriented it sold much of that production on export specs to Northwest exporters. As is common today, it was not unusual for Patrick to take a position, either long or short, rather than relying simply on traditional back-to-back orders.

Patrick was also heavy into supply lumber for mining operations, both in the U.S. (mostly in Arizona) and abroad. On many occasions, Patrick furnished expensive mine guides to Comibal, a Bolivian mining concern. Somewhat related business included the lumber provided to Reynolds Electric & Engineering Co. for use in underground nuclear test explosions at Mercury, Nevada.  Another regular customer at the time was the Panama Canal Company, purchasing from Patrick Lumber through agents working out of New Orleans, Louisiana.