One of my favorite things about the work we do through the Regional Wood Products Consortium is leveraging the networks we’ve built to support the small companies that dot our landscape. On a macro-level, we’re helping the entire industry in the region evolve its culture and change its approach to innovation. At the same time, we’re helping individual people achieve objectives that go well beyond the bottom-line. This brings me to the story of Carol Chang, a young woman from Houston, Texas, who is starting her career in the furniture industry in our region as a result of the Consortium’s network.

Back in May, I was intrigued by Chuck Ray’s GoWood blog (Chuck is an Extension Professor of Wood and Forest Science at Penn State University) describing his excitement for Carol’s recent graduation from the Wood Products program at Penn State.. The story began when Chuck visited Houston, his hometown, in 2007 to talk to a woodworking class at his former high school. During a digression about the origins of the school’s namesake (Robert E. Lee), Chuck sparked a conversation with Carol, an aspiring woodworker and saw the impressive work she was doing. Six year later, Chuck was trumpeting Carol’s accomplishments as she was soon to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree from Penn State’s Wood Science program and noted that she was looking for work…

My radar is always on to discover the next generation of talent that can contribute to the success of our woodworking sector. So I followed up to get Carol’s credentials and sent them to all my contacts in the region’s wood manufacturing community in hopes that someone might give Carol a shot. I’m very happy to report that Carol landed the position of product development manager for innovative outdoor furnishings company, Weatherend Estate Furniture in Rockland, Maine. Matching talent and opportunity is one of the by-products of my work as coordinator of the Regional Wood Products Consortium, and I am very happy to have made this match for both the company and a fresh young mind eager to learn and grow in the industry.

Best of luck Carol, and welcome to New England!