After almost five decades, Reggie Hubbard retires from Darlington Veneer

By Melissa Rollins, Editor,

When Reggie Hubbard graduated from Wofford College, he went looking for a job. Now, almost five decades later, Hubbard is retiring after having found a career he loved at Darlington Veneer Company.

“I had minored in accounting and I wanted to go into the banking industry,” Hubbard said. “In 1970, the banking industry was in a bad recession so I was looking for a job. I heard that there was a job opening here in the accounting part of the business so I applied for it and came to work. My original job was accountant/office manager. I was twenty-two when I started.”

John Ramsey and Jim Ramsey present Reggie Hubbard with a plaque in appreciation for all he has done for Darlington Veneer Company in his 47-year tenure.
Photo courtesy of Darlington Veneer.

Hubbard was responsible for more than just accounting but that was what he enjoyed the most.

“I was responsible for all aspects of the accounting from first journal entries to financial statements,” Hubbard said. “I love that sort of thing so it fit right in with what I had been trained to do, so to speak. Needless to say, at that time, everything at Darlington Veneer was done by hand; we did not have computers. Everything was done by hand including typing the checks, posting entries. That was one of the first things I helped do was convert us over to the computer age. We still had a switchboard when I came here, that you literally plugged in to connect to people’s phones.”

Having planned to enter the banking industry, Hubbard had to be a quick study in ‘Plywood 101.’

“I knew nothing about plywood,” Hubbard said. “I had to do was do a cost study on a lot of our costs in the mill and that is how I got involved in the plant. That was, again, right up my alley. I got into the mill and started learning a little bit about the product, the how, where and when, all that sort of thing.”

That study helped Hubbard learn the business and also helped him find ways to improve it.

“The cost study revealed that we could purchase part of our veneer cheaper than we could manufacture it here,” Hubbard said. “We had at that time what we called two green ends. We actually peeled the log and created part of our own veneer. Part of my cost study showed that we were losing money doing that. Actually, after doing the cost study I handed it in and they said no way, go back and do it again.”

He did do it again but turned it pretty much the same study.

“After doing it again, I brought it back two or three months later and it was virtually the same thing,” Hubbard said. “Then they said ‘Maybe you’re right.’ We shut down the green ends in ’72 or ’73. We had a lumber core department where we made lumber core and we shut that down. We had a pre-finish area where we put a top -coat on the plywood; we shut that down. Things really picked up for us after that. Those were three non-profitable parts of our business and we started doing some other things, we put in equipment, we put in some different procedures. Over the years we have tweaked the business to the point that it looks a lot different than it did 40-something years ago.”

As a young man fresh out of college, the study could have been a turning point in his job.

“It scared the hell out of me when I had to turn that cost study in,” Hubbard said. “I was here less than a year and I was going in to talk to somebody who had been here thirty years and I was telling them that my figures didn’t jive with theirs. I was a little bit concerned about my job but they began to see that maybe I was right. We had not had any real, true cost studies done in a long time and now that we’ve shut these operations down we’re beginning to make some good money.”

Hubbard began working under the General Manager, getting promoted to Assistant General Manager and eventually General Manager. He retires as Vice President, which goes to show that hard work pays off. Though someone new will sit behind the VP desk, Hubbard will continue to stay on for a few days a week.

His time outside the office will be filled with children and grandchildren; with six of them he will have plenty to fill his time.

“I turned 69 and decided it was time to slow down,” Hubbard said. “It feels great to say that I’m retiring. I worked hard for it.”

Author: Duane Childers

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