JELD-WEN Founder Dick Wendt Passes Away

August 16th, 2010 by Editor

JELD‐WEN founder Richard L. (Dick) Wendt passed away at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, Ore., on Saturday, August 14, from complications arising after a stroke. Wendt founded JELD‐WEN Inc. 50 years ago in Klamath Falls, Ore., and led the company as president and chief executive officer (CEO) until 1992. He served as chairman of the board from 1981 to 2010.

“Our workplace is so infused with Dick’s vision and principles that even employees who have not had the pleasure of knowing him personally see his influence in many aspects of their jobs, and admire him greatly,” said JELD-WEN company officials in a statement.

Wendt was born February 18, 1931, in Dubuque, Iowa. After graduating from Iowa State University and serving in the U.S. Air Force, he started working for Caradco, an Iowa-based window company for which his father was working at the time. In 1957, Caradco sent Wendt to Klamath Falls to help grow its millwork plant. In 1960, Caradco decided to sell that operation through an auction, and Wendt, along with four co‐workers—John Biehn, Bill Taylor, Larry Wetter and Gerry Wickersham—bid on and bought the company’s mill equipment and real estate in Klamath Falls. The new owners of the millwork plant held their first stockholder meeting one week after the auction on November 1. Within two years they added a plant in Charlotte, N.C., where they began assembling complete door and window units.

In 1969, Wendt began the JELD‐WEN Foundation to provide funding for worthwhile endeavors in the communities where JELD‐WEN has operations. To celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary this year, JELD‐WEN has initiated a program called “50 Hours of Service,” which encourages employees to select their favorite charities and form work groups to help the organization accomplish its goals. In return JELD‐WEN compensates employees for their volunteer time.

“Dick has long held the view that communities and businesses help keep each other strong. It is clear to employees that JELD‐WEN has a responsibility to build relationships and to support beneficial community activities. The interests, passions and convictions of JELD‐WEN employees help direct where financial support and resources should go. It’s heartbreaking that he won’t be with us at the company’s anniversary celebration in October. But perhaps now we will be able to showcase his many accomplishments and selfless acts of generosity without any objections. For if he had his way, none of the anniversary activities would be about him,” read the statement.

Wendt is survived by his wife, Nancy, and three sons, Rod, Mark and Mike. Today, Rod Wendt serves as president of the company, a position he has held since 1992 when Wendt retired.

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