In December I had the opportunity to call on one of our “partners” in the southeastern United States. One thing I began to notice with regularity, as I went from location to location across Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana was “pink” 2×4 studs.
Using my limited mental facilities, I could only associate these with some sort of breast cancer awareness program. Having lost my mother to cancer, as well as having a cousin and a good friend who are cancer survivors, I’ve gotten to see many of the now familiar pink ribbons.
Eventually, my curiosity got the better of me and I asked if they had something to do with cancer awareness. To my disappointment, it turns out they were not even “pink” but actually purple (looked like a pretty washed out pink to me). The whole idea, according to the gentleman I asked, was nothing more than a marketing ploy.
During the post-World War II housing boom, a company called Temple-Inland introduced the now infamous purple 2×4 studs as a marketing tactic to compete against Douglas fir studs from the Pacific Northwest. It seems a sawmill owner in Southeast Texas had been painting his product orange and had no trouble selling all he could produce. Temple-Inland’s Sales Manager at the time, Bob Westin, presented stud samples in five different colors of water-repellant paint to the other members of the sales team. They unanimously selected the magenta (or purple as it is now referred to) and the rest is history.
When I was researching this article, I found what would become Temple-Inland Inc. began in 1893, when Thomas Temple, Sr., founded Southern Pine Lumber Company in East Texas. While business expanded for several decades, in1934 Thomas Temple died, leaving his son Arthur with 200,000 acres of land and a company $2 billion dollars in debt. I was left with the impression the purple 2×4 studs may have helped save the day.
In 1973 Temple was acquired by Time, Inc. In the past year, Temple has been traded more often than the PTBNL (player to be named later) of major league baseball fame. International Paper (IP) acquired Temple-Inland in February 2012, and in December, Georgia Pacific announced it had acquired Temple-Inland from IP.
While the 2×4 studs may not actually be pink, they now do stir thoughts of breast cancer awareness in my mind. I’m hoping the recent changes in ownership; do not bring about the end of the magenta stud!