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Howard Hedstrom announces retirement

Oct 30, 2019 10:12AM ● By Editor

Media Release from Hedstrom Lumber Company - October 30, 2019 

After 43 years of service, including 30 years as President, Howard Hedstrom announced his retirement from Hedstrom Lumber Company, Inc. as of September 30.  A family-owned business since 1914, Hedstrom Lumber has been a cornerstone of the Grand Marais community and the upper Midwest wood products industry for over 100 years. Howard is the last of the 3rdgeneration of the Hedstrom family involved in the business. 

The new leadership team of Chris Hegg, President; Jeff Johanns, Vice President; Tina Hegg Raway, Finance/HR; and Hedstrom family 4th generation members Matt Anderson, Engineer/Facilities; and Kent Anderson, Mill Consultant; took over the reins at the end of 2018. The new team has worked together for a number of years, ensuring a smooth transition for the Company, its employees, and its other stakeholders.  

Howard’s Leadership

After graduating from Michigan Tech with an engineering degree in 1971, Howard went to work at Reserve Mining in Babbitt on the Iron Range.  He returned to Grand Marais in 1976 to work with his father Andy, uncles Carl, Roy, Herb, Phil and Wes plus cousins Wayne Anderson, Stan Hedstrom and Ed Hedstrom and his brothers Jack and Tom.  After Wes’ retirement in 1990, Howard was elected President.  During Howard’s tenure, Hedstrom Lumber survived many industry and economic crises, including the inflation crisis of the 1980s, the 1990s oil crisis, the market bust, 9/11 attacks, and the Great Recession.

Howard was at his engineering best when under pressure, particularly rebuilding after the all too frequent fires including the big sawmill fire in 1981, the kiln fire in 1989 and the recent smaller sawmill fire in 2016.  Another area where Howard had a huge impact was in the politics of publicly owned timber.  He had leadership positions with many timber industry organizations, including Minnesota Forest Industries, Lake States Federal Timber Purchasers, American Forest and Paper Association, and the Federal Forest Resources Coalition. 

Hedstrom Lumber Community Impact

Hedstrom Lumber Company directly employs about 40 full-time, year-round workers in its specialty lumber manufacturing business. Logs are purchased locally and from the surrounding areas on the Iron Range, northern Wisconsin, and Canada.  They are transported to the Grand Marais mill site to be sawn, kiln-dried, and planed into a variety of lumber products that ship throughout Minnesota, the Midwest, and across the country. The Company supports an extensive network of associated activities including loggers, log haulers, over-the-road truckers, road-builders, byproducts users, federal/state/county forestry programs, and manufacturing suppliers throughout Northeastern Minnesota. Our communities are strengthened with these industries to complement the tourism industry and diversify the local economy. Hedstrom Lumber has proudly supported local nonprofits and business partners in Cook County for decades under the Hedstrom family’s community-oriented leadership, and the new management team plans to continue this philosophy.

Looking to the Future

Howard and his wife Bonnie Gay are looking forward to traveling and spending time with their three children and five grandchildren. They are active in the local arts community, and Howard remains very active in community leadership positions with the Chamber of Commerce, Grand Marais Art Colony, Great Expectations Foundation, and the Cook County EDA.

The new leadership team and Hedstrom Lumber employees are looking forward to the opportunities available in the constantly evolving lumber industry and overcoming the many obstacles involved in being a small but nimble player in the world wide market.  With the strength of the next generation, the relative steadiness of the market in recent years, and hopefully no more fires, the future of Hedstrom Lumber is looking very bright indeed.


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