SWEET HOME — Representatives of the 100-year-old Hill Family Trust based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, didn’t have to look far when it came time to select a new president of Cascade Timber Consulting, which manages the family’s 145,000 acres of timberland in east Linn County.
In fact, their new leader will only have to move his office a few yards down the hallway of their Sweet Home office building.
Linn County native Milt Moran, 64, has worked for Cascade Timber Consulting and its predecessors for 45 years, ever since the Lebanon High School graduate earned an associate’s degree in forest management at Central Oregon Community College in 1973.
Beginning March 1, Moran will succeed David Furtwangler, 64, who has worked for the Hill family since 1985 and has been president of CTC for the last 13 years.
Moran becomes the fifth head of management companies for the family — Eugene Ellis with Timber Service Company; Jack Barringer with Barringer and Associates; and Larry Blem and Furtwangler with Cascade Timber Consulting.
“It has been a pleasure to work for the Hill Family,” Furtwangler said of the transition. “The family has always thought long-term, and although they don’t micromanage us, they are involved and truly understand this business. Their goal has always been to manage the forest for the future generations and that remains our focus.”
Furtwangler was reared in Springfield and graduated from Oregon State in 1976 with a degree in forest management.
“I started out in business, but wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do,” Furtwangler said. “I worked in other businesses for a few years and then came here.”
His early years with the company were in timber sales layout, inventory and GIS mapping.
“This has been an ideal job. You’re not stuck behind a desk all the time,” Furtwangler said. “We have been successful because mills know we sell quality wood and they know what to expect from us.”
Furtwangler said Cascade Timber Consulting’s goal is to not only meet requirements of the Forest Practices Act, but to exceed them.
In fact, sustainability was a key word for the Hill Family long before it became fashionable.
The Hill Family Trust founded the David T. Mason Seed Orchard east of Sweet Home in 1959. The 75-acre orchard was ahead of its time in developing new, improved tree seedlings. Millions of trees on the Hill family lands — and elsewhere around the world — have begun life as seeds produced there.
Cascade Timber Consulting has 33 employees and plans to add two forester positions in the coming year, but the company indirectly provides another 200 to 240 jobs in Linn County through its contracts with logging companies and other providers.
Although he will officially “retire” on Feb. 28, Furtwangler said he will continue to be available if Moran has questions.
Both men have been active in community and statewide philanthropic organizations.
Furtwangler and his wife, Shari, a retired teacher and school administrator, live in Brownsville and enjoy traveling both domestically and to foreign locales.
They have two grown children and three grandchildren.
Furtwangler has served on the boards of the Oregon Forest Industries Council, Oregon Forest Resources Institute, the Calapooia Watershed Council, Brownsville Chamber of Commerce, the United Way of Linn County and the Linn County Planning Commission.
Moran has worked on company projects across the board over the last 45 years from road construction to timber sales and fire management.
“I’m excited,” Moran said. “We have a great staff and it’s exciting to see the next generation of the Hill family so interested in this business. I’ve always said that I treat this timber farm like it’s my own, and I will continue to do that.”
Moran and his wife, Jane, have four grown children and seven grandchildren.
He is active at St. Helen Catholic Church, serves on the Samaritan Health Services corporate board, the Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital board, the Linn County Parks Commission, is past president of the Oregon Logging Conference, Oregon Department of Forestry Fire Funding, Forestland Classification, Large Fire Review and Wildfire Protection Act Committees.
“Dave and I have worked a lot together, and we understand the values of this company,” Moran said. “There isn’t going to be much change. I agree with Dave that we have some of the best staff ever. I have held several leadership roles over the years, and I’m a good listener. I want to help our people be successful.”
Moran said he will retain his role as timber sale manager because it takes years to develop long-term relationships with buyers.
The Hill family’s involvement in Linn County began in 1910, when business magnate Louis W. Hill of St. Paul, Minnesota, and a partner, purchased thousands of acres of timberland that had been set aside by an Act of Congress in 1866 to construct a wagon road from the Oregon coast to Idaho.
The men formed the Oregon and Western Colonization Company to manage the property and in 1917, Hill acquired sole ownership, forming the 1917 Trust for his wife and children.
In 1943, Louis W. Hill Jr. — known as Louie — married Elsi Fors in Seattle, and the couple moved to Sweet Home, where he learned the timber business from the ground up.
He and Elsi lived for a time with Eugene Ellis, a forester for the family who traversed its thousands of acres on a mule, often gone for weeks at a time. Ellis managed Timber Service Company for years.
The demand for wood during World War II was high, and since 1938 the family had worked extensively with David T. Mason of the forestry consulting firm Mason, Bruce and Girard. Mason — after whom the tree orchard is named — was considered the “father of the sustained yield concept”.
In 1945, the company negotiated a long-term harvest contract with Willamette Industries that lasted until 1986.
Louie Hill Jr. died in 1995, but family members remain active and attend an annual meeting, which includes tours of company operations, new logging and firefighting equipment and long-term planning.