Centennial Celebration Event: Day 1 – Stockton, CA

The final week of June California Cedar Products Company held a very special celebration honoring the company’s Centennial mark. Over 200 people gathered in Northern California including current and former CalCedar employees, slat customers, suppliers, other business collaborators, shareholders, directors, friends and Blackwing brand influencers participated in a wide range of activities and events throughout this three day event.

Throughout the week Pencil industry participants included 40 representatives from 8 countries including; Mitsubishi Pencil, Schwan-Stabilo Cosmetics, Schwan-Stabilo, A.W. Faber-Castell, Caran d’Ache, Cumberland Pencil Company, General Pencil Company, Musgrave Pencil Company, Tombow, Kitaboshi Pencil, Cosmetic Colors (Schwan Group Mexico), Aruna (Thailand makers of ForestChoice pencils), CalCedar’s Tianjin, China factory and several more.

Visit our Centennial Home Page for complete photo galleries of all three day events and the Company Historical Timeline.

Henry & Lynn Hulan (Musgrave Pencil Company) and David Silva (Faber-Castell) inspect the Pencil Industry Timeline on the CalCedar Office Tour.

DAY 1 Summary of Activities

As guests arrived in CalCedar’s home base in Stockton, California on June 27th, a busy first Day agenda  kicked off with an opening luncheon aboard the Ferryboat Klamath, hosted by Duraflame, Inc. Duraflame, is a spin-off from California Cedar’s 1969 firelog product innovation to utilize wood waste from the Stockton Slat factory to produce a higher value consumer product.  Until 2004 CalCedar produced firelogs for Duraflame, but sold the Stockton facility to Duraflame after completing the relocation of pencil slat production to Tianjin, China in 2002.  A number of Duraflame’s firelog department and other headquarters staff worked for CalCedar over the years and were in attendance at the BBQ luncheon which featured Duraflame charcoal and BBQ sauce products, and a presentation by Duraflame about the history of the company and scope of today business in firelogs, hearth products and cooking fuels such as hardwood lump charcoal and natural cooking woods.

After lunch guests were bused across the river to an interesting tour the Duraflame West firelog factory and research operations at the site where CalCedar also produced Incense-cedar pencil slats from 1918 to 2002. At peak annual production in 1988 the slat factory here produced 23 million slat gross, a quantity sufficient for CalCedar slat customers to produce around 4.2 billion pencils. In 2006 Duraflame built a new modern firelog facility replacing most of the main production floor buildings of the slat factory, but other aspects of the slat facility like lumber storage sheds and fiber handling system remain intact given historic crossover use with firelog operations.  The site still includes the original “white house” office that served as CalCedar’s original corporate office from 1920 to 1988 and again from 2005 to 2015 as well as the HQ building constructed and opened in 1988 now leased to outside parties (see aerial photos in tour gallery from 1963 and 2015).

Duraflame VP of Manufacturing Gary Frisch explains firelog production during the factory tour

From here the group was transported across town to CalCedar’s current corporate HQ and distribution operations near the Stockton airport where it relocated in 2015.  Here is the home for Pencils.com and the Palomino, Blackwing & ForestChoice sales, marketing, packaging and distribution operations in addition to corporate offices for slat sales, administration, accounting and finance.  CEO & Chairman Charles P. Berolzheimer II gave a brief welcome and allowed guests to wander the imaginatively decorated facility reflective of CalCedar’s creative culture and history. Highlights include the 4×40 foot, 10,000 word Pencil Industry timeline, produced originally for the Blackwing Experience events.  Here many of the customers were able to find interesting dates and milestones not just of CalCedar, but of their own companies and the worldwide pencil industry as well as an extensive collection of pencils produced by CalCedar customers.  The Blackwing Studio Lounge used for creative work sessions, video and photography production, musical jam sessions and other informal meeting purposes features a comfortable living room environment decorated with pencil and Blackwing related art and ephemera.  In the Pencil Room where Pencils.com orders are packed and shipped featured current stocks of many of the wide variety of brands and products.  A video highlighting the forest to pencil slat production process covering CalCedar TCW slat factory in Tianjin, China played on a continuous loop.  Some of the guests had also been participants in the 2016 20th Anniversary celebration of this facility in Tianjin

CalCedar CEO Charles Berolzheimer II accepts Centennial gift in the Blackwing Studio Lounge from Chira Suksathaporn of Aruna Pencil Company Thailand.

Charles also took this time to distribute copies of The Story of CalCedar: 100 Years of Pencil Supply History”, an illustrated history he just completed on the company, its’ employees, customers and the Berolzheimer family’s seven generation legacy in the pencil industry. Among the many interesting stories of individuals, our company, industry and customers, the book particularly focuses on the important and changing role of wood supply in the pencil industry and of adaptation to a dynamic global marketplace. A gift for participants in each event and now being shipped out to a number of customers and friends the book is now available for purchase on Pencils.com.

After a break back at their hotels the evening concluded with an opening reception at the riverfront home of Philip and Anne Berolzheimer. Philip, currently Chairman Emeritus, served as President of California Cedar Products Company from 1983 through 1999 and Duraflame from 1983 to 2004, before passing the reigns to his sons, Charles and Parke, respectively in each company. Additional guests at this gathering included a number of retired former executive managers of CalCedar. A number of guests shared their thoughts in video interviews that are currently in proc3ess of being edited.