Annette Walter is the owner and CEO of Timber Industries, a national materials supplier headquartered in Towson, Maryland. Since 1977, Timber Industries has supported the supply chain and logistics needs of major manufacturers in industries such as consumer goods, food service, packaging, plastics, chemicals, metalworking, and automotive. Under Annette’s strategic direction, the company aims to provide a new standard of customer experience with a focus on emerging technology and sustainable practices.
EDWIN WARFIELD: How did you get started with Timber Industries?
ANNETTE WALTER: I’m constantly researching, investigating, learning about all the different industries that are out there. As a business owner there are so many different things that impact your business from the day-to-day level, and also the strategic level, that it is important for you to really know what types of opportunities are out there in any type of marketplace.
I researched Timber Industries for one year. We did about a year’s worth of due diligence on it. The company was introduced to me through a common colleague. At the time, the company was going through some downturn. They had a couple of challenging obstacles at hand. It was really on the downward spiral. And with that, we were able to really take a look at it. My due diligence team looked at it very closely to see what types of things were really causing the issues and what types of opportunities we could really bring to the table to make this a turnaround opportunity.
Q. Can you tell us about what the company looked like before you acquired it?
A. The history of Timber Industries really goes as deep as the pallet itself. It roots way back, and it really has a strong, loyal name on the national scale and that was one thing that really attracted me to the company. At the time when I acquired it, it was being run by a woman whose father, unfortunately, had an ill-timed death, and she was looking to sell. This was positioned right after the downward spiral of the economy and an unfortunate situation that had happened within the company. She was looking to sell, and I was looking to buy something, and after a year of researching it, discussing different strategies, looking at the client base and the history, the integrity of the company, the following—a lot of the different things that go into due diligence—I decided to acquire in March of 2013.
Originally, it was the Quincy Adams Company, and then it became Timber Industries. It was run by a wonderful gentleman, a strong leader in the pallet industry. It has always just been a strong player on the national scale for lumber and pallets and really anything that is wood related on the products. They used to own multiple lumber yards across the United States, however, through the downturn of the economy, and various reasons, those were sold.
Q. Your husband works with the company as well. What is his role?
A. I have a very supportive husband who actually works within the company. He’s awesome. He has a background in construction. He started at Whiting Turner, and then launched a sales career for an exterior building maintenance company. I decided to engage him in the company because of his construction and sales ability. There is a lot of detail that goes into the design of a pallet, and he is a strong player on our team when it comes to the design element, and there’s just a lot of personality and awesome flavor that he brings to the company that really is good.
Q. What are some things you’ve been proud to accomplish since buying the business?
A. We’ve done a lot. We’ve had 20-plus percent year-over-year growth, and we’ve retained all of our original clients that were there at acquisition, which I think speaks volumes. There have been multiple minority business certifications that that we have really worked hard for, actually. We are 100% women-owned. There aren’t a lot of 100% woman owned wood companies, lumber companies, pallet companies, across the United States. There are a handful of minority companies, but not 100% woman-owned, and that was one thing that really drew me to this space—not only the concept and the interest of this company, and the challenge of growing into a new market segment that wasn’t in my wheelhouse, but also the ability to do a lot of work within the minority business space.
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