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Wood Gutters

Tom Carstensen, a former Patrick shareholder who came to the company in 1976, recalls being in the wood gutter business in the early 1970’s. “I was buying and selling lumber for North Pacific – wooden gutters, believe it or not, which are still used today. It’s a traditional product, primarily used in New England. And, of course, they want it in long lengths and it has to be very high grade material, and that’s hard to find. Well I bought some gutter blank from I.P. Miller Lumber in Bellfountain, Oregon, and it was going to some guy in Massachusetts.”

“There wasn’t a lot of it. The freight rate was based on 40-foot boxcar, and if you didn’t have enough lumber to fill the car to capacity, then you had quite a penalty to pay for all the air you were shipping in that car. But the rules allowed you to order a 32-foot boxcar and say on the bill of lading ‘Forty-foot boxcar ordered, 32-foor boxcar supplied in lieu thereof.’

“So, we dutifully went through this, thinking all along that there is no such thing as a 32-foot boxcar anymore. Well, the car shows up at the mill and by god, it was a 32-foot car, one of these old fashioned refrigerator cars they used to fill with ice. And there was a door in the end of the car maybe two feet by three feet where they loaded the ice.”

“The guys at the mill duly stuffed all this lumber in through this little door and when they shut the door, it wouldn’t stay shut, so they spot-welded it and shipped it off.”

“Well, when it got to Massachusetts, I got a call from my customer, who said he guesses the lumber is inside but he can’t get the foo rope. We went back and forth with the mil and finally we found out the door had been welded shut. So they got a torch and broke the welds and then someone had to squeeze through that door and unload all this 4×5 30-foot lumber from the car, one piece at a time.”

“There was a dispute over that”