was CEO of Louisiana-Pacific Corporation (LP) from
its launching in 1973 up to his departure in 1995—a
very long run by any industry standard. Currently
he oversees, with his son Harry Jr., his winery
business in Sonoma County, Lago di Merlo.
In January 2008, Merlo agreed to an interview at
his office in Portland, Oregon. The focus of the
interview was Merlo's role in purchasing the various
timberlands in Mendocino County that are now part
of Mendocino Redwood Company. In the process, we
also tried to catch at least a glimpse of the man,
not just the CEO. Most of the personal questions,
especially about the pivotal influence of his mother,
were sparked by his 2008 autobiography, Vintage
Merlo, which was released at the time of the
interview . The larger story of LP in Mendocino
County as well as related environmental efforts,
like Redwood Summer, will be a later undertaking
for this history web site.
without the aid of video cameras and tape recorders,
are tricky to negotiate and especially difficult
to translate into print. The interviewer often needs
to surround direct quotes with a context of information
and with a sense of time, space, voice, and attitude—all
the elements that recreate the spoken word, the
living person. It's no wonder that Mark Twain, who
sometimes insisted on being interviewed in bed,
had few good things to say about interviews. "Sometimes
in despair," Mark Twain said, "they write
up a lot the man never said, never intended to say,
and couldn't say if he thought of it." We have
tried to avoid those pitfalls and capture, as best
we could, an "inner view" of Harry Merlo
rather than just an "interview".
Harry Merlo by Doris Schoenhoff at Lago di Merlo
Distribution Office, Portland, Oregon,
10 January 2008. All direct quotes of Harry Merlo
are from this interview, supplemented by telephone
conversations with him on 1/11/2008 and 1/16/2008.
One week prior to the interview, MRC received an
electronic copy of Vintage Merlo..