Laminated Wood Systems in business for 20 years through innovation, knowledge and education
Laminated Wood Systems, based in Seward, began in 1992. Prior to its inception, two of Laminated Wood Systems’ current owners, President Bob Reisdorff and Vice President of Sales and Marketing Doug Kotil, were providing consultation services to manufacturers producing various products for the electric utility industry at RDM Design Systems. It was there that the two developed a patented product known as the PoleEnforcer® used to reinforce electrical utility industry poles.
This reinforcing system would allow for old and decayed electric utility poles to be strengthened back to new pole strengths for a fraction of what it would cost to fully replace them. In addition, this reinforcing could be done with no interruption of power and also extend the service life of the poles for another 20 to 30 years.
With a new product under its belt, Laminated Wood Systems was born as a supplier of wood pole management products. Thereafter the company began to set its sights on reintroducing engineered wood structures to the electrical utility industry through a product known as E-LAM® Structures. These structures were initially engineered to benefit the electric utility industry, but eventually went on to benefit the telecommunications industry.
According to Reisdorff, Laminated Wood Systems leaders knew it would be expensive to ship their structures across the country. So by using his background knowledge of selling products to the electric utility industry, Reisdorff found a way to “cost effectively distribute” the structures. The company did this by working with regional manufacturers throughout the country so shipping distances were shorter and thus less expensive. Reisdorff also said this was a way to “keep their products American-made.”
During this time of growth and invention at Laminated Wood Systems, the electric utility industry was experiencing a recession that began in 1975 and lasted until 1997. However, Laminated Wood Systems continued to grow, in part because of the telecommunications industry’s cell phone boom of the late 1990s. Although the owners of Laminated Wood Systems knew nothing about the telecommunications industry, they embraced the boom as an opportunity. They started to educate themselves on the telecommunications industry and began to engineer cell phone towers made out of wood, which according to Reisdorff “blended in better than the ugly steel stuff.”
In an effort to continue its growth, Laminated Wood Systems also began to reinvest its profits back into the business. This led to the launch of another new product, the PhaseRaiser®. Proven to be more cost-effective than new line construction, the PhaseRaiser® would allow the electric utility industry to offer innovative ways to increase line capacity or assist where there could be ground line clearance problems.
One final piece of growth that led to the success of Laminated Wood Systems would be the creation of its sales network of independent representatives, who sell Laminated Wood Systems’ products and related products to the electric utility and telecommunications industries, such as insulators or conductors. According to Reisdorff, this diversity has allowed the company to create a bigger sales force, which in turn has increased profits and led to the company’s continued growth.
Over the past 20 years innovation, knowledge and education have allowed Laminated Wood Systems to grow and find success. Reisdorff encourages aspiring entrepreneurs looking to do the same to “use their knowledge and look for diversity.” By utilizing his own diverse expertise in the electric utility industry and teaching himself about the telecommunications industry, Reisdorff was able to create and build a successful business. He said that “if there’s an opportunity not to rely on outside expertise but to roll up your own sleeves and learn for yourself,” then entrepreneurs should take it. In addition, Reisdorff encourages entrepreneurs to reinvest in their business if they want to have success and grow.
For more information on Laminated Wood Systems, visit http://www.lwsinc.com