Bob Anderson graduated from Northwestern University in 1950 with a degree in Industrial Engineering. Soon after, he moved with his bride, Dolores, from Chicago to Landrum, SC, where he took over as Assistant Manager. After only one week the Mill Manager died of a sudden massive heart attack and Bob got a battlefield promotion. He quickly earned his hard nosed reputation and was definitely a tough manager. He did not have Andy’s selling personality, but he did have a head for figures and was tough as nails making him a skilled manufacturing and operations manager. For years Bob and Andy were a perfect team.
Within a few years of Bob’s joining the company, they decided to concentrate their efforts on the plant in Maxton. The company experienced increased efficiency and supplied veneer skins for a variety of products: furniture, cabinets, luggage inserts, and wood flooring blanks for Cincinnati Flooring Company in Clinton, SC. As bankruptcy and technology swept all of the customers away, the wood flooring business remained as the sole product category – eventually becoming the entire focus of Standard Plywoods.
In 1954, the plant in North Carolina suffered a catastrophic fire that caused the company to join forces with it’s largest customer, Cincinnati Flooring Company, in an effort to save both businesses. Cincinnati leased their boilers and veneer mill to Standard Plywoods, and Standard Plywood moved all its remaining equipment and 200 employees with their families to Clinton, South Carolina. In 90 days they were making wood flooring again.
Within four years Bob and his father Andy bought out the remaining part of the plant, along with their brand name “Modernwood” to become vertically integrated. The company started with trees in the forest, then made veneer, plywood, planks and finished them for sale under their own brand. It took twelve years to accomplish this and it stands as a family proverb. Build a brand. A brand means something to you, your employees and to your customers. A brand is a promise. That is why we are continuing this long standing legacy with Hearthwood.
Together they built the Modernwood brand through the fifties and sixties, but Andy got liver cancer and died shortly after diagnosis in 1966. With the growing popularity of wall to wall carpeting, all wood flooring began to decline in market share. Bob survived through ruthless cost and operational control. His 200 wood flooring competitors dwindled over those dozen years to just three, and in 1978 he was the last man standing in his market segment. In just one year, he went from his worst year in 1977 to his most profitable year in 1978.
In 1979, Bob he recruited his son-in-law, Don Finkell to come into the business.