August 20, 2009 in Idaho

Wood products company deepens its Idaho roots

Executives buy part of Trus Joist to form Boise-based RedBuilt
By The Spokesman-Review
 
BETSY Z. RUSSELL photo

Gov. Butch Otter, right, congratulates Harold “Red” Thomas on Wednesday.
(Full-size photo)

BOISE – A landmark Boise timber products company is returning to Idaho’s capital city in a new incarnation.

A group of former executives of Trus Joist Corp., along with Atlas Holdings LLC, has purchased the commercial division of Trus Joist from Weyerhaeuser, its current owner. Named RedBuilt, the new company’s headquarters will be in Boise.

RedBuilt’s name is a tribute to Trus Joist co-founder Harold “Red” Thomas, who is among the new company’s investors.

“We’re back in Boise because we think this is the place it belongs, and we have a team that can make it go,” Thomas said Wednesday. “It makes me feel 40 years younger, because that’s where we started this company in 1960.”

Trus Joist pioneered a type of engineered lumber that revolutionized the wood products industry. Thomas, who was a wholesale lumber salesman, and architect Art Troutner started the company with $8,000, some machinery and an old barn, and the idea that “we’ve got to have something better than a 2-by-4,” Thomas said. “Art called me in one day and said, ‘I’ve got this idea.’ … We created a whole new industry of laminated veneer lumber.”

When Trus Joist was purchased by Weyerhaeuser in 1990, it was a Fortune 500 company with annual revenues nearing $1 billion.

Times aren’t so good for the wood products industry these days, the new company’s executives acknowledged, with the recession crimping construction. They’re confident anyway.

“We’ve got a great leadership team here, most of whom were in key leadership positions with this company during the ’80s and ’90s,” said Tom Denig, the RedBuilt board chairman and a former Trus Joist Corp. CEO.

RedBuilt employs 234 people, including 32 in Boise, all of whom already worked in Boise for Weyerhaeuser. The remainder work at four manufacturing plants and 13 design and sales offices around the country.

Its products include composite wood-and-steel open-web trusses, engineered wood I-joists and engineered lumber including laminated veneer lumber. It also offers project engineering and related services.

Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick, a former Trus Joist CEO, said the company’s leaders were “the reason I came to Idaho 35 years ago,” launching a 21-year career with the firm. “It was a fabulous, fabulous company,” Minnick said. “Small businesses create 70 percent of the jobs in this country, and what this country needs right now is jobs.”

Weyerhaeuser will retain the Trus Joist brand for its residential building products, while the RedBuilt name will go on engineered wood products for the commercial, industrial and multifamily markets.

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