AURORA, ILL. — Russ Kathrein is stepping down as president and CEO of Alexander Lumber Co., effective immediately, the company announced in a press release. Kathrein, chair-elect of the NLBMDA, will assist with the management transition through August.
“We made a lot of changes there, and we did a lot of good, and now it’s time for someone else to take the reins. They’ve got a unique talent who wants to explore the technology side of the business,” Kathrein told LBM Journal.
The Alexander Lumber Board has named Bill Cummings — Watt Alexander’s son-in-law, and a long-time board member — as interim CEO to lead a strategic assessment and prepare the company for a CEO search in Q1 2021.
“We hired Russ in 2014 to succeed my father, Walter Alexander, as the first non-family president in our 129-year history,” Watt Alexander, Alexander Lumber board chair, stated in the news release.
“Russ has built a strong management team with deep industry experience. He’s significantly improved our operating efficiency and raised our game as a family-dominated board. We’re a much stronger company than when he started six years ago. We sincerely appreciate his efforts and wish him all the best on his next endeavor.”
“Digital technology is beginning to transform the manufacture and delivery of the finished house to the home buyer. We have the team and resources to really hone these capabilities. We’ll spend the next six months intensively reviewing how we go to market and prioritizing our investment in strategic technologies. My job is to guide that review,” Cummings explained.
Alexander highlighted Cummings’ limited LBM industry experience as a deliberate choice by the board: “Bill’s range of technology start-up, senior management, and investment experience is well-suited to lead an objective, in-depth reappraisal of our strategy before we hire our next CEO. We have some great LBM folks on the team already. Bill brings an eye for innovation and strategic planning—a fresh perspective to the business overall. We aren’t looking to simply stay the course. Bill’s leadership during the transition will determine how we do business for the next decade.”
Kathrein, an LBM Journal columnist, concurred: “I am very proud of the team we have built at Alexander Lumber, a group of hardworking people committed to serving our customers. We have evolved from a traditional lumber company to an industry thought leader, developing innovative and sensible solutions to our home-building industry. As the Alexander Lumber ownership pursues a new platform business model, focusing on transforming the industry through technology, I can think of no better person to lead this effort than Bill Cummings. His familiarity with the company and experience in other technological industries has prepared him well. I look forward to assisting Bill in the transition, making it smooth and seamless for both our employees and our customers.”