We are only a quarter into the year, and it has already been a good one for Steve Singleton. There are two reasons. One reason is because he is named Timber Processing’s 2010 Man of the Year. Singleton is general manager of Canfor-New South’s mill in Camden, SC. He was there long before Canfor entered the New South picture. I’ve known Steve for many years, have had the pleasure of visiting him at the Camden mill, and he graciously participated in presenting a talk on maintenance at a conference I chaired on the West Coast.
Based on outside nominations and our own personal observations, the staff at Timber Processing usually develops a short list of potential men of the year. This time the race—the 22nd in its history—pretty clearly came down to Steve and somebody else. You can read the story that begins on page eight, written by David Abbott, and find out why Steve deserves the honor without me rehashing it here, other than for me to say the guy sho’ nuff knows how to run a sawmill.
Of course, in his typical fashion, from the moment we informed him in mid-January, Steve keeps swatting away any attention we try to send his way. He sounds like an old-time football coach. “Aw-shucks. I had nothin’ to do with it. It’s the boys here who work their tails off every day. I just walk the sidelines…”
Speaking of football, we reach the second reason why it has been a good year for Steve.
About two weeks after we told Steve he was our Man of the Year, an all-american high school running back from Spartanburg, SC named Marcus Lattimore chose to sign to play college football with the University of South Carolina. It so happened that the University of South Carolina and Auburn University had been engaged in a friendly but highly intensive recruiting battle for this kid. Each day that I read about it, I thought of Steve, because in addition to growing up around sawmills, he is a long-time fan of the University of South Carolina football team. He graduated from there in fact. Meanwhile, I graduated from Auburn University, and heck, I’ve written books on Auburn football. As I tend to do when first meeting sawmill people, I probe to see if they’re a serious college football fan. Most are, and I quickly discovered that Steve was. Frankly, if you’re a college football fan, you’ve got a lot going for you right out of the gate in my book.
Anyway, Auburn had already lined up a great recruiting class, and luring Lattimore would be the icing on the cake. Watching his high school video clips, I thought Lattimore looked like the best running back out of high school I had seen since Bo Jackson, who won the Heisman trophy as a running back at Auburn. Lattimore had narrowed down his choices to South Carolina and Auburn, after eliminating the likes of Penn State, LSU and others. And then Lattimore announced he was staying home so to speak to play for head coach Steve Spurrier. “There goes Bo Jackson,” was my first thought with a twinge of dejection. My second thought, with a smile back on my face, was, “I know Steve is enjoying this more than he is being named Man of the Year.”