Richard E. Hanson '65 might have seemed destined for a career in the timber industry, but it was his thirst for knowledge and drive to do things better that made him successful.
You're writing a novel. The lead character is a top executive in a giant international timber company. Will you say that he was born and raised in a town called Forest Grove? Naah, too contrived.
Yet Forest Grove, Oregon, is the hometown of Richard E. Hanson, chief operating officer of Weyerhaeuser Co. And although he likes the place and is on the governing board of Pacific University located there, he attended the University of Oregon.
He earned a B.S. in 1965 after first majoring in landscape architecture. After four years in a U.S. Gypsum management training program, young Rich Hanson looked around for a company that was on the move. He had heard good things about Weyerhaeuser, so he called the corporation's controller and expressed interest in an entry-level position in operational auditing.
"But I don't have any money, so would you buy me a plane ticket and interview me?" Hanson recalled asking. "And he said he would. So he bought my plane ticket and, as they say, the rest is history."
Much of that history, including eighteen years in Springfield, Oregon, involved timberland. So it was no surprise when in 1999 Hanson became the head of all company timberlands. Four years later, he was elected COO, the position he holds today--but not for long.
Weyerhaeuser has mandatory retirement at age sixty-five for top managers. Hanson will turn sixty-five in November 2008. He and Joy, his high school sweetheart and wife of forty-four years, will move to a home with eight acres on the Longbranch, Washington, waterfront.
"It's enough ground to justify owning a couple of tractors," he chuckled. "And I'm starting my classic car collection with a '59 Corvette."
Other postretirement plans might include some guest lecturing. He's interested in the Center for Sustainable Business Practices at the Lundquist College of Business.
"I've gotten quite familiar with supply chain management and enterprise resource planning systems," he said, noting that Weyerhaeuser has embarked on related programs of its own. He understands the theories "and the practical aspects of it as well."
He also will continue to follow Weyerhaeuser's expansion in South America. In two minutes he can tell you more about growing eucalyptus trees in Uruguay for hardwood flooring than you can readily absorb. Unless you're a good student--which he was and still is.