Case Study: Roseburg Shifts to an Active Approach for Recruiting Top Talent

From the May issues of BPD and Merchant Magazines.

Similar to a number of companies in the forest products industry, conversations about recruitment go hand in hand with conversations about a company’s marketing and communications strategy. That certainly remains the case for Roseburg, a company that sees marketing and recruiting as tactics that go hand-in-hand with one another. While they address this symbiotic relationship, their attention is currently turned toward the development of an internal recruiting team for the first time in the company’s history.

Earlier this year, Roseburg hired Christine Collins as their first Director of Recruiting. Collins had been one of the company’s contracted recruiters for the previous eight years, and bringing her on full-time was a strategic move to harness her industry knowledge and empower her to build out a proactive, innovative plan for the future of the Roseburg’s recruitment. Hiring Case Study B.PNG

Why now? The answer is simple: the industry has evolved to a point that it has become necessary to take an active, rather than passive approach to recruiting top talent.

“It used to be in our industry—if you go back not even 20 years—that the common approach was if you needed a supervisor you asked your managers and supervisors, ‘Who’s a good supervisor at the mill down the road?’ and then you went down the road to look for that particular supervisor,” said Kelleye Wise, Senior Vice President of HR and Labor, Roseburg.

Wise went on to say that it was incredibly common, especially on the operational side, to see mill managers and supervisors rotate through a couple of plants over the years. “The industry was really internalized,” said Wise.

Over the last 15 years, however, these localized pools of candidates are decreasing. As you look down the I-5 corridor, for example, the number of wood products companies has rapidly shrunk, forcing companies like Roseburg to go farther outside their typical radius when looking for candidates. This is especially true for positions in HR, finance and IT, where industry knowledge is seen as a skill that can be acquired with training rather than a requisite for employment.

Rebecca Taylor is an example of an employee whom Roseburg looked outside of the industry to fill a position. She was recruited from the healthcare industry and now serves as Roseburg’s Corporate Communications Director.

“It’s been two and a half years now. I had a steep learning curve, but I felt very supported,” said Taylor. “You have a certain set of skills you just have to apply to a different arena.”

Identifying skills that are critical to positions is just as important as identifying the strengths and weaknesses of a potential candidate. Knowing as much as you can while prospecting will put an HR team in the best position to not only fill staffing needs, but also to retain employees.

“We look for what’s called humble, hungry, smart,” said Wise.

These traits are borrowed from the book The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni. All Roseburg HR staff are trained in this process and look for these traits in the candidates they are recruiting and interviewing. Not only do they find that this gives their HR team focus, but it also allows them the opportunity to identify candidates much earlier on who may have incredible work experience on paper, but just don’t meet the criteria for “fit.” Ideally this approach helps to avoid people joining the company and realizing a few days or month into employment that it isn’t going to work from one side or the other.

To date, this approach certainly seems to have been working. Roseburg has a high retention rate, with turnover averaged at just under 15% over the last five years. The industry average for turnover is 25%.

Utilizing the “humble, hungry, smart” method isn’t the first time that Roseburg has placed value on external methodologies for recruiting and evaluation of their staff. A number of years ago, the company implemented the Hogan Tests and Assessments, which uses 11 personality scales to help leaders recognize shortcomings, maximize strengths and build successful teams.

The test isn’t seen as a pass/fail model, where candidates have to achieve a certain score to even be considered for employment, but rather as a way to highlight strengths and weaknesses. This approach allows Roseburg to tailor training and coaching to individuals who may need professional development in certain key areas, as highlighted by the evaluation, and are able to fuel their success as new members of their teams.

“When we do hire someone who may have an opportunity to improve in a certain area, depending on what position they’re coming into, we provide training to augment and strengthen those areas that could be stronger,” said Collins.

Another key way that Roseburg has continued to strengthen its staff is through their internship program. A few years ago, the program was restructured to make it more mutually beneficial—students are able to learn and Roseburg is able to attract top talent just out of their undergraduate programs.

“We get 25-30 interns ever summer and last year we hired four or five of the interns after they graduated from college,” said Wise. “From that standpoint the program has been successful.”

Those benefits extend far beyond their internship pool as Roseburg is also increasing their visibility at a grassroots level. Previous interns are wearing branded apparel and walking around campus and are then able to answers questions and shed light on their experiences with the Roseburg. These interns function as brand ambassadors and have helped to a point that Roseburg representatives attend job fairs and are able to skip the explanation of what Roseburg is and where they’re located and dive into specific benefits for potential internship program candidates.

“We had been limited to the Pacific Northwest, but in the last couple of years we’ve pulled candidates from Cal State, Penn State and Louisiana Tech just to name a few,” said Wise.

Making the company attractive to students and millennials extends beyond name recognition, and Roseburg has taken steps to address those needs as well.

“Nearly all of our plants are located in rural communities, which is an increasing challenge because most millennials do not want to live in rural communities,” said Wise.

That fact is one of the major influences for relocating their corporate office from Dillard, OR to Springfield, OR in 2016. The move brought jobs for those in finance, IT, sales, HR and a few other positions to an area that has more of an urban vibe. Dillard, OR has a population of 478 compared to Springfield’s population of 61,893. While not a full blown urban environment, the location in Springfield has more of the features that the younger workforce demographic finds to be attractive.

“I think where we are now as a company is that Roseburg has taken a good step to get on the level with other wood products companies who have internal recruiting teams. This is a big step for Roseburg,” said Collins.

When we connected with the team, Collins was currently on day 27 of her full time employment with Roseburg, but the team has big plans for recruiting in the future. They’re poised to be a company to watch as they put these plans into action to continue to build their pool of candidates.


Kellye Wise, Senior Vice President of HR and Labor, Recruiting
Christine Collins, Director of Recruiting, Roseburg
Rebecca Taylor, Corporate Communications Director, Roseburg

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