Robert Rosen, President of City Lumber and Millwork, is a man with a global perspective; one that dictates that “if you want to do business in the 21st Century, you’d better understand the world – and the forces that shape it.”
It is clear that a keen awareness of geopolitics/economics substantially influences Mr. Rosen’s strategic planning – and is also a catalyst for his desire to promote dignity and respect. As Mr. Rosen stated in a speech to the McEwan Student Business Conference in January, “…your small actions can have huge implications – and vice versa. We are all part of an interdependent global system of cause and effect.”
The City Lumber & Millwork story begins in Flin Flon, Manitoba, against the backdrop of the Great Depression, where Jack and Zita Rosen envisioned a prosperous and benevolent future for themselves and their family.Married in 1933, Jack, an immigrant who came to Canada to escape the tide of anti-semitism that had permeated much of Eastern Europe at the time, and his bride, Zita, worked hard to forge a future in the isolated northern community. The couple opened Northern Hardware, where they traded with trappers and fishermen, delivering goods in the harshest conditions of the extreme climate. During this time, Jack also operated three sawmills, which left him little choice but to spend long periods of time away from his family, leaving Zita to operate the store and care for the couples three children, Shirley, Beverly, and Robert.
In 1949, the couple moved to Edmonton, in search of better educational opportunities for their family, bringing with them a sawmill, a loyal crew of 14, a letter from the Mayor of Flin Flon stating that Jack always paid his debts on time, and the one resource the Rosens knew they could always count in – a willingness to work hard.
The Rosens also brought to their company, and their new community, the fundamental values of respect, tolerance, and compassion.
Today, nearly sixty years since its inception, Jack’s and Zita’s son, Robert, continues to passionately operate the company his parents built from scratch. City Lumber and Millwork is of one of Western Canada’s most successful manufacturing stories — a leading supplier of building material and a partner in some of the largest construction projects in the world, specifically in the Alberta tar sands.
City Lumber’s corporate philosophy has been built upon a foundation of concern for community — local and global. Robert has guided the implementation of initiatives that will increase industry’s commitment to use Alberta products and strengthen and sustain its manufacturing sector. This commitment is behind City Lumber’s decision to use only Alberta spruce when working on the exterior finishes of the new Sir Henry Thornton staff village at Jasper Place Lodge; a choice that has proven to the construction industry that the quality of Alberta wood is second to none. Consequently, recognition of this local product’s attributes will result in more jobs for Albertans, and a lighter environmental footprint due to reduced transport.
The values his parents instilled have guided Robert in both his corporate and charitable accomplishments. Edmontonians have greatly benefited from Mr. Rosen’s quiet interest in arts, culture, healthcare and the promotion of tolerance and compassion among young people.
Among the many local charities supported by City Lumber is the Fort Edmonton Foundation. Mr. Rosen understands the value of Fort Edmonton Park and living history. He also appreciates the Park’s accessibility to all Edmontonians and its ability to provide the opportunity for people to together experience something special. The Fort Edmonton Foundation appreciates Mr. Rosen’s contribution to making that happen!
Source: Foundation Magazine Fall 2008
By Naida GeislerView All