The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Duane McDougall Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Mike Dicianna.

July 15, 2015


A native Oregonian, Duane Charles McDougall was born in 1952 and grew up in Tigard, Oregon. McDougall's parents made a modest living operating a luncheon and diner in southeast Portland, and from an early age McDougall worked to supplement the family income. A good student, McDougall enrolled at Oregon State University in 1970 and majored in Business and Technology with a focus on accounting. While at Oregon State, McDougall interned with the Arthur Andersen accounting firm and, after graduating from OSU in 1974, he accepted a full-time position with the company, based in Portland.

During his years at Arthur Andersen, McDougall's primary client was Georgia-Pacific, a world leader in wood pulp and paper products. In 1979 an associate at Georgia-Pacific informed McDougall of a job availability as assistant controller at Willamette Industries, a large forest products company with headquarters in Oregon and Louisiana. McDougall applied for and received this position, and so began an association with Willamette that would last for the next twenty-three years.

McDougall enjoyed a steady rise up the ranks at Willamette. After three years at the company, he was made controller of wood products operations and, in 1986, he was promoted to Chief Accounting Officer. Later named Vice President of Western Building Materials, McDougall was made Executive Vice President of Building Materials in 1997. McDougall assumed the top leadership spot at the company in December 1998 when he was promoted again, this time to President and Chief Executive Officer.

McDougall's tenure at Willamette coincided with seismic shifts in Oregon's wood products industry. During his years as an executive, McDougall oversaw significant advancement at Willamette, which enjoyed growth in annual revenues from $1 billion to a peak of $4.6 billion, and an expansion in operating capacity from some sixty plants to a final total of 107, including facilities in Ireland, France and Mexico.

At the same time, a number of forces, including environmental concerns and changes in both state and federal policy, placed severe pressure on the timber industry, and over the course of the 1980s and 1990s, numerous wood products operations were shuttered. In the early 2000s, amidst this climate, Willamette Industries became the target of a hostile takeover bid that was launched by one of its primary competitors, Weyerhaeuser. As CEO at Willamette, McDougall worked to fend off the advance for eighteen months until, in 2002, Weyerhaeuser succeeded in consolidating its position. At that point, Willamette Industries ceased to exist as an independent company and McDougall, it's last CEO, resigned.

Two years later, in 2004, McDougall joined the leadership team at Boise Cascade and ultimately served as CEO of that company for nine months. He remains a member of Boise Cascade's board, which he chaired from 2009 to 2015. McDougall has likewise been a member of several additional corporate boards, including West Coast Bancorp, the Cascade Corporation, Greenbrier, and Boise Standard Insurance.

McDougall has also been heavily involved with a number of activities at his alma mater, including twelve years of service to the OSU Foundation and close engagement with the College of Business and OSU Athletics. Beyond OSU, his civic outreach and philanthropic efforts have included work with Portland State University, Marylhurst University, the Oregon Symphony, CASA, and the Oregon Community Foundation. Today, he lives in Lake Oswego, Oregon with his wife of more than forty years, Barbara.