In June, LBM Journal introduced its 40 Under 40 awards. Now we’d like to introduce you to the members of the class. Our interviews spotlight the 40 Under 40 members’ LBM experience, thoughts on attracting young people to the industry, and visions for the future.
CJ Young, Operations Manager for Ward Lumber in Jay, New Jersey
How did you become involved in the LBM industry?
In mid-2020, when it was pretty clear the fall and winter might be looking at more shutdowns, which would have affected me then as a caterer, I decided to shift industries. I was initially drawn to this industry as it continued to function even during various shutdowns.
What is your favorite part of your job?
There’s a lot of variation day to day, always a new issue to tackle or project to work on. I’ve found myself changing positions a lot in the past due to feeling bored or underutilized. I don’t find that to be an issue with my current vocation.
What advice would you give to companies looking to attract young professionals like yourself?
Create standards and expectations that are upfront and fair. I think many folks in their 30’s and 40’s have been jerked around for much of their professional lives with promises for advancement and better pay that only manifest when you switch companies or position.
I know for myself when dealing with unpleasant working environments it makes everything feel inevitably temporary. A lot of us have pushed off having children or ‘settling down’ in part due to this constant churning in our lives. Offering consistency, opportunities for advancement, training, regular pay increases, and good benefits is probably the key. That’s kind of the equivalent of telling an individual to eat better and exercise to lose weight, it’s not an easy or fun answer but there is a reason it’s the one that works.
What is your personal mission statement?
The simplistic response is strong and to-the-point, “Be efficient.” Meet with an agenda–with a goal. I believes information is the key to success. I like prioritized lists, knowing what needs to be done and, well, doing it.
Debates that lead nowhere, with no ground to step on, waste precious time. Be a doer. Be calculating and takes pride in your strength of conviction and empathy…push through to the next thing and be able to relate to others and understand their perspective.