RedBuilt™ — the former commercial division of Trus Joist® — turns 50

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Renowned engineered-wood products pioneer celebrates a half-century of innovation and returns to its roots by concentrating on the commercial building market

RedBuilt - Celebrating 50 Years

a tip of the old hard hat

RedBuilt™, as the former commercial division of Trus Joist Corp., is celebrating its golden anniversary in 2010. Founded in Boise on May 15, 1960, by wholesale lumberman Harold “Red” Thomas and inventor Art Troutner, the commercial division of Trus Joist is renowned throughout architectural, construction, and engineering circles as the inventor of what was at the time an entirely new building materials category known as engineered wood products.

Last August, private equity firm Atlas Holdings LLC, in partnership with a group of former leaders of Trus Joist — including Thomas, RedBuilt president and CEO Kurt Liebich, and RedBuilt chairman Tom Denig — acquired the commercial division of Trus Joist from Weyerhaeuser Co. They moved the headquarters back to Boise, renamed the company RedBuilt — which Liebich says is “a tip of the old hard hat” to Thomas — and marked its rebirth at a press conference that included all five of the company’s former presidents.

“Trus Joist enjoyed significant growth during the housing boom when it adapted its innovations to fit the needs of residential builders, but these groundbreaking products were initially designed for commercial construction,” says Liebich, who oversaw commercial and industrial operations at Trus Joist for Weyerhaeuser before serving as the division’s chief executive. “And just like Art and Red were in
the beginning, RedBuilt is dedicated to meeting the unique and evolving needs of commercial builders and developers.”

According to Liebich, Weyerhaeuser’s business model was not a good fit when it came to the needs of the commercial construction industry. “Theirs is production-and-distribution system that delivers an array of relatively standard engineered wood products to dealers who then sell to residential builders and contractors,” he says. “Little is ‘standard’ in commercial construction. Success in this arena demands a high degree of consultative, personal service and technical engineering skills coupled with state-of-the-art manufacturing and distribution facilities. RedBuilt’s unique ability to support architects, engineers, and specifiers is what the company has been known for since our inception 50 years ago.”

Being a stand-alone business that is out from under the shadow of a larger corporation affords RedBuilt the opportunity to make decisions and design processes based solely on customer needs. Liebich also notes, “Because we don’t share manufacturing with other businesses, our facilities are laser focused on meeting our customer’s project specific needs; not on building large inventories of standard products.”

“Our company is smaller and more flexible,” Liebich adds. “And we’ve returned to the ‘can-do’ roots of the original Trus Joist by selling solutions that solve specific customer problems and by providing comprehensive support from building concept through installation and beyond. In fact, RedBuilt can be a single-source solution for all things related to wood building design, products, and systems, and it’s backed by a half-century of unsurpassed performance.”

He also notes that RedBuilt has a unified team comprised of technical representatives and engineering and production associates that shepherd individual projects – not products – through the entire construction process from design inception to manufacturing to jobsite support. RedBuilt’s ultimate goal is providing our customers with not just the best products, but with the best solutions that meet their building needs.

Moreover, Liebich says RedBuilt and its customers enjoy tremendous benefits because of the longevity of its engineers and associates. “We build long-term relationships with our customers and truly come to understand their business,” he says. “That not only translates into peace of mind, but lower installed costs, too.”

Today, in addition to providing engineering prowess and soup-to-nuts support, RedBuilt offers the industry’s most innovative engineered-wood structural building systems for commercial, industrial, and multifamily applications — including complementary components, product engineering, and on-site technical support. And it all started with a revolutionary product called the open-web truss that Trus Joist — which was actually called Trussdeck Corp. at the time — introduced in 1960.

Open-web trusses substitute technology for mass by combining tubular-steel webbing and wood chords that yield high strength-to-weight ratios and provide excellent, resource-efficient alternatives to all-steel trusses and glulam systems. Custom designed and built to meet the specific requirements of individual projects, RedBuilt open-web trusses support efficient, economical, light-industrial construction ranging from office complexes, shopping malls, restaurants, and convenience stores to schools, auditoriums, hotels, motels, multifamily housing, and warehouses.

Within 10 years of introducing the open-web truss, the company released two more disruptive technologies — the engineered wood I-joist in 1969 and laminated veneer lumber in 1970. Both use wood more efficiently than traditional “solid-sawn” lumber and have since transformed the building industry.

Engineered wood I-joists like RedBuilt’s Red-I™ joists utilize an efficient “I” shape that gives them outstanding strength-to-weight ratios, enabling them to carry large loads over long spans while using considerably less wood — at least 50 percent less wood fiber than comparable solid-sawn joists.

Engineered wood I-joists are employed in a variety of commercial and light-industrial applications, plus they have become the de facto standard for building structurally superior, resource-efficient residential floor and roof systems.

The concept behind laminated veneer lumber was first experimented with during World War II to make airplane propellers, but Trus Joist introduced the world’s first commercially produced LVL for structural applications. LVL is made from thin sheets of veneer peeled from logs that are dried, ultrasonically graded for strength, and then permanently bonded together using adhesives, heat, and pressure. The process removes and disperses the natural defects inherent in wood and yields a product that is strong, dimensionally stable, and very reliable. It also allows the production of lumber members equal to or greater than equivalent sizes of dimension lumber. Laminated veneer lumber like RedBuilt’s RedLam™ LVL is primarily used as headers, beams, I-joist flanges, and open-web truss chords, as well as for industrial applications like concrete forming and scaffold planking.

A great deal has happened in the years since Trus Joist pioneered open-web trusses, engineered wood I-joists, and laminated veneer lumber. It went public in 1973, and its parent company, TJ International, got into the window business in the 1980s and out of it in the mid-1990s. Meanwhile, Trus Joist became Trus Joist MacMillan in 1991 when TJ International entered into a joint venture with Canadian timber industry giant MacMillan Bloedel Ltd.

Under the leadership of distinguished industry veterans like Denig, who presently serves as RedBuilt’s chairman of the board, Trus Joist MacMillan dramatically expanded its international presence and in 1996 became a Fortune 500 company. In 1999, as Trus Joist MacMillan’s sales approached
$1 billion, Weyerhaeuser bought both partners in the joint venture. Ten years later Liebich, Denig, Thomas, RedBuilt vice chairman Bill Walters, and several other former Trus Joist leaders bought the commercial division back from Weyerhaeuser in concert with Atlas Holdings and launched RedBuilt.

RedBuilt operates commercial manufacturing plants in Chino, California, Hillsboro and Stayton, Oregon, and Delaware, Ohio, as well as 13 design and sales offices located across the United States. Additionally, RedBuilt has four Design Centers strategically located at the three open-web manufacturing facilities and in the corporate headquarters. The Design Centers are comprised of professional engineers and design technicians with decades of industry experience and a singular goal of supporting RedBuilt customers and their project needs. The company currently employs 234 people throughout the country.

Liebich says those numbers will undoubtedly grow as the economy rebounds, because RedBuilt will continue to lead the commercial engineered-wood products industry. “Starting with little more than $8,000, some machinery, and an old barn, Red and Art pioneered products that revolutionized the building industry,” he says. “Five decades later RedBuilt stands as a testament to their vision. With the help of our invaluable associates and loyal customers, we will remain a leader in engineered wood products — a category we invented — for another 50 years and beyond by building on the legacy and core values of innovation and industry leadership Red and Art inspired.”

Visit to learn more about the company and its products.

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RedBuilt™, Red-I™, and RedLam™ are trademarks of RedBuilt LLC. Trus Joist® is a registered trademark of Weyerhaeuser Co.

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Randy Ruim
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Ken Stoltz