302 303 The business began in 1953 as Weston RoadWholesale, a small lumber yard run by Frank Ekstein on OldWeston Road in Toronto. In 1978, he was joined by his son, Rick, and over the next fewyears, the single lumber yard with 12 employees and annual revenue of $8 million grew to become the Weston Forest Group– one of Canada’s most diversified forest product remanufacturing and distribution companies, conducting business on four conti- nents and in over forty countries.Weston Forest Group directly employed 200 people, and achieved sales of over $200 million. Reorganization in 2000 led to the creation of six separate companies some of which have been sold to staff or third parties. Steve Rhone, President of Weston Forest Products, shares some insight into the success of this progressive company.“Rick Ekstein and his brother Peter wanted to build a national, and then glob- AT A GLANCE WESTON FOREST WHAT: Distributor and reman- ufacturer of wood products to North American industrial and construction sectors WHERE: Head office in Mississau- ga, Ontario WEBSITE: www.westonforest.com WESTON FOREST al, forest products company.Their father, Frank, challenged them to aggressively grow the busi- ness, providing they generated enough income to pay for their ambition.They developed strategies and did the research; poking into different areas of the market.To that point,we had basically been a walk-up lumber yard where you came to pick up a few pieces of 2 x 4 to fix up your basement, or pressure-treated lumber to build a deck.” In the early 2000s,Weston Forest Group had several distinct segments competing for resourc- es under one roof. Rhone explains,“We’d grown north of 200 employees, still in the same facility we’d started with.Whoever screamed loudest got looked after that day. So,we split those various businesses into stand-alone operating entities; individual corporations operating in their own facilities with their own administrative and opera- tional support.” OnlyWeston Forest is in the original location, and is one of two still operating independently. Nearby,WestonWood Solutions operates under separate ownership, focusing on window and door components,moulding, and millwork.Weston Pre- miumWoods, also just a fewmiles away, produces higher-end hardwoods and decorative wood ele- ments.That company was just recently purchased by a public company.