Meet Austin – An LBM Travel Blog

Hey Yesler followers – Matt Meyers here. I met Austin, a lumber trader for Utah Lumber, a couple months ago. He called to personally thank me for the Yesler logo tumbler I had sent (he called just for that…nice!). I learned then how young he was, how he was recently married, and about his upcoming road trip across the country. I knew there was a compelling story in here: Young, tech forward, relationship building, remote work – a story highlighting intersection of past and future, tech and the LBM industry.

I offered to promote his story through a periodic blog post. It’s about travel to national parks, the beautiful scenery, and stories about his experiences as a new lumber trader introducing himself to the LBM industry and learning along the way.

I expect we can all learn something from his experience. Join me in following his journey as we publish a travel blog – part travel, part LBM. You never know…he could be knocking on your door next. Reach out to us if you’d like to share your side of the story and we’ll post that too!

Meet Austin

I am Austin Tillotson, a trader for Utah Lumber. I am 19 years old and setting out on a three-month road trip, with my wife, to see the great open spaces of the United States and to learn about the LBM industry. Utah Lumber is nestled in the snowy, Utah mountain peaks, in Harrisville, Utah.

Over the course of the next 90 days or so we plan to travel over 12,000 miles, visit 50 lumberyards and pass through, at the minimum, 10 states. Throughout my trip, I will post quick snapshots – literally and figuratively – about what I am seeing in a land where the sky is big and broad, like a big roof over a beautiful land.

We are driving a Dodge Ram Pro Master 2500 Sprinter Van. It’s fully outfitted with a kitchen sink and refrigerator, and a solar panel system.  We also have on board:

  • 3 laptops
  • 1 camera
  • 2 phones
  • 1 iPad
  • 1 laptop pen
  • Multiple camera lens
  • 4k camera drone

I was born in 2003.  I am what is called a “digital native.” I have grown up with technology at my fingertips. I like technology. I find it easy to use and fun to experiment with. While this road-trip is my honeymoon, it’s also, hopefully, an exploration into how the LBM industry can better use technology. Maybe a good way to put it is this: The honeymoon is the foundation for the road-trip, and the LBM learning are the pillars!

I want to learn as much as I can about how lumberyards conduct their business operations, historically and today, because my sense is the future likely provides new ways for the industry to adopt technology. Over the last few days, I have had a chance to reflect on a recent meeting I had in Gunnison, Colorado. The lumberyard I met there could not have been more kind to me and generous with their time. They gave me a full tour of their operation and seemed to appreciate my questions and sincere desire to learn.

What I found so interesting was their apparent view about technology: It’s the phone and Excel spreadsheets. Like so many companies in the LBM industry, technology is seen as a replacement for person to person interactions. While I am just getting started in the industry, I don’t think technology should replace real human interaction. Instead it’s a supplement with great advantages. I see this in my personal life. I have a great group of close friends, and I see them often. For example, we play lacrosse and search out the most radical customized cars. We also text and use other social media applications to keep our in person experiences alive from one meeting to the next.  

I have a lot more lumberyards to visit. And a lot more to hear, learn and think about. One thing I know, technology will never replace interacting with nature. Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park will show you that. 

See you next time!

Austin Tillotson
Austin Tillotson of Utah Lumber

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