Expert in Industry: Wallace Dale Corwin

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In addition to Wallace Dale Corwin’s local industry experience from his 32 years with JELD-WEN Inc., his family has lived and worked in Central Oregon for 129 years, since homesteading in 1887. Corwin serves as corporate manager of product integrity, JELD-WEN Inc. and president and director of JWDRS Inc. “I am a fourth generation Central Oregonian, my son is a fifth and my grandsons and granddaughter are sixth,” Corwin reflects.

Corwin recently completed three years serving on the BEDAB board and the last two as chair. He did not reapply for a second term because he agreed to stay on the executive board of the East Cascades Workforce Investment Board.

During his tenure, BEDAB concentrated on:

1. Engagement of the business community on topics that had possible ramifications for local businesses and authored recommendations to the City Council.

2. Provided funding for a Bend City Business Advocate to help businesses in their interactions with the City.

3. Budgeted and funded projects and organizations that supported economic development within the City of Bend.

4. Reviewed the annual Visit Bend Budget and recommended approval or changes to the Bend City Council.

“My role was to act as the chair and to make sure that all members were given their just time to recommend, debate, and vote on all matters before BEDAB,” explained Corwin. “It was my goal
to make sure that the above items
were accomplished.

My years of experience in business, my business contacts, and my budgeting background were the major assets I brought to the committee.”

His professional career has reaped much knowledge in building standards and codes, building component product defect litigation and advanced manufacturing for prototyping including CnC, laser, molds and 3D printing. Through these fields of expertise Corwin has seen Central Oregon, “go from a family wage, blue collar, agricultural and natural resource based manufacturing and distribution economy to lower wage, tourism, retirement and retail based economy.”

Corwin believes the transition to tourism, retirement and retail economy has ushered a high cost of housing for all wage brackets and many other burdens. Among them, “deterioration of infrastructure including water, sewer, roads and storm water, lack of tri-city public transportation and loss of blue collar, white collar and semiprofessional jobs due to outsourcing of labor and replacement of labor by new technologies.”

This concerns Corwin as he sees a need for skilled labor as Central Oregon continues to grow.

He notes that quality of life and an entrepreneurial business environment are the pros that Corwin recognizes in Central Oregon’s current economic climate.

Speaking before an audience of hundreds at Rotary Club of Greater Bend in July, Corwin gave an assessment on one of Bend’s most hotly debated commerce topics, the proposed Climate Action Ordinance (CAO). Agreeing that global climate change is caused by humans, Corwin shared concerns that creating an ordinance that businesses could be held accountable for legally wasn’t necessary and thought a resolution more prudent.

Another concern noted was the constituency of the steering committee for CAO. Corwin feels that 30-40 percent of costs associated with CAO proposed regulations will be absorbed by business and industry and therefore proposes a three way split on the steering committee between the general public, the City and environmental causes.

Looking to land-use planning for Bend in 1976 and 1979, Corwin reflects, “The community couldn’t have anticipated the unintended consequences of decisions back then, however today the fact is there isn’t enough housing to accommodate a growing community.” Reviewing this example, he recommends caution in decisions regarding ordinances in the future.

Corwin says his approaches to problem solving in industry have come from valued mentors. Former Oregon Senator Wayne Morse taught him, “contrary to popular view, business and government bodies are no different than households. If you spend more than you make, you have to sell assets, reduce your standard of living or declare bankruptcy.”

From Barry Homrighaus and attorney Richard Sieving he learned, “In business and politics, it is always the best policy to tell the truth, no matter the immediate consequences, and you don’t need to know everything about a subject, you just need to know how to find someone who does.”

Believing it’s important to treat all employees, business contacts and adversaries with respect and compassion, Corwin says a tenant to leading is not to ask anyone to do something that you wouldn’t do yourself.

He adds, “When choosing a department or position, always pick a project that is failing instead of one that is performing well. The best you can do with a well-performing opening is keep it where it is, while a failing opening can only improve.”

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