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The World is Your Oyster

When Tom Carstensen came on board in 1976, the company, particularly Bob McCracken, had already begun concentrating its focus on the export side of the business. In fact, the original impetus for bringing Tom on board was to have someone to pay attention to the domestic side of the business. By then Bob McCracken was actively building business in Europe and Australia. In the early ‘70s, McCracken travelled to Italy and Greece and established the Company’s first European agent, Jordan Gregoriades, in Athens. McCracken also met a Dr. Tranersa in Naples who introduced him to the soon-to-be Italian agent, Elio Lucarelli.

On the domestic side, Jack Patrick was still involved to some degree, and Weldon Smith (Smitty) was still an active trader, but both Jack and Smitty were beginning to wind down. So it fell to Tom to maintain and rebuild the domestic business.

“When I came on board, the domestic side of the business was peanuts,” Tom Carstensen recalls, “and I was brought on to improve that.

“But I found a better deal.”

That better deal was in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe, particularly England and Italy, the two biggest European markets for high grade West coast wood. Patrick Lumber had had an excellent reputation and a high degree of credibility with the mills, which allowed the Company to source product very efficiently which, in turn, allowed Patrick to offer product at competitive prices, which gave them a “foot in the door” as Tom put it.

“When I started at Patrick the company was very traditional in its approach. There were many opportunities out there that were not being taken advantage of,” Tom recalls. “The products being used in the U.K. and in Europe, were products I knew a lot about. And there was opportunity because there were a lot of lightweights in that business who were doing very well by virtue of tradition and by virtue of contacts established over many years.”

At the time Italy was a very large market for West Coast wood and much of it went through Patrick’s agent, Elio Lucarelli. “He was a decent agent,” Tom recalled, “but he was near, or even past, retirement and locked in to a handful of old buddy buyers. So, while useful, that business was not growing and our relationship with Lucarelli did not provide us access to the main stream of the market.” Carstensen set out to change that.

While Tom Carstensen looked to improve business in western Europe, Bob McCracken was busy attempting to conquer Australia. In 1975 McCracken had flown to the Land of Oz to explore market opportunities. 

In 1975, McCracken flew to Australia to explore market opportunities there. A year later he went back and built a relationship with Moore Le Messurier in Sydney, Gunnerson Le Messurier in Adelaide and Altergen in Melbourne. Through these business dealings, Bob became acquainted with Edward Suttell, who worked for Gunnerson and helped Patrick gain a foothold in the Australian Market. Those relationships resulted in some significant business in the 1975-77 time frame.