Project Description


Columbia Forest Products is North America’s largest manufacturer of hardwood plywood and hardwood veneer products. Columbia’s decorative interior veneers and panels are used in high-end cabinetry, fine furniture, architectural millwork and commercial fixtures. Columbia’s products are sold through a network of wholesale distributors, mass merchandisers and original equipment manufacturers from three distinct business units: plywood, veneer and global services.

Columbia Forest Products (“CFP”) is an employee owned company. Through its Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP) every employee has a vested interest in the success and well-being of the company.  Mr. Brad Thompson is President and CEO of CFP and has been a man of faith for many years. 

In 2014, Mr. Thompson heard Peter Freissle speak at a conference.  A year and a half later, in 2015, Mr. Thompson contacted His Way At Work to talk about implementing a Caring Team.  During our first meeting at CFP’s headquarters, Mr. Thompson explained his view that everyone has significance and that everyone (down deep) wants to accomplish something significant.  It is his goal to offer employees at CFP an opportunity to do something significant, to be significant.  Mr. Thompson asked HWAW to lead CFP through our 4-step process.

As we worked our way through the first 2 steps, it became clear that the company’s mission statement would need to change.  This was a statement the company had recently adopted (2013) and had put much effort, time (a year) and money into developing and launching.  Mr. Thompson stopped our meeting with his Mission Team one day and challenged us to develop a new mission statement, one that more clearly linked the company’s mission to the company’s newly worded, higher purpose.

The new mission statement was developed by CFP’s Mission Team, vetted by the executive team and approved by the Board of Directors in less than two months at minimal cost!  CFP had already formed the CFP Foundation which now funds Caring Teams’ requests for financial assistance.

In HWAW’s employee engagement section (Step 3 “Cascade Engagement”), all mills and the company’s HQ in Greensboro, NC institute their own Caring Team:

  • 5 Mills by the end of 2016
  • 8 Mills by the end of Q1, 2017

During a follow-up visit HWAW made to a CFP mill six months after implementing the Caring Team, one of the Caring Team members said “…I can no longer imagine the mill NOT having a Caring Team …”. Another said “…the mill culture is already changing and people are beginning to care and trust the company more…”


Project Details

  • LeaderBrad Thompson | CEO
  • Founded1957
  • Employees2500
  • Location(s)Greensboro, NC | Boardman, OR | Mellen, WI | Newport, VT | Presque Isle, MN | Rutherglen, ON | Newcomerstown, OH | Chatham, VA | Craigsville, WV | Hearst, ON | Kitchener, ON | Klamath Falls, OR | Old Fort, NC | St. Casimir, QC | St. Therese, QC | Trumann, AR
  • Caring ManagerMichele Ford
  • HWAW Partner Since2015
  • HWAW Certified CoachJody Armstrong