Testimonial: Nathan Hosterman, Group Leader, Lumber System

Learn about Nathan's education, interests and career path. He graduated from Penn State with a degree in Wood Products - the Processing & Manufacturing option.

My degree:

B.S. 1997, Wood Products Processing & Manufacturing Option
Business & Marketing Minor

Educational path:

After completing my undergraduate work at Penn State, I took an assistantship at Virginia Tech, and completed my M.S. in Wood Products, focus in Manufacturing and Marketing. My thesis studied the feasibility of using recycled pallet lumber for value added parts. Specific focus included the yield and drying issues of oak blanks that would yield a pre-finished strip-flooring product.

Average day on my job:

I am with Wood-Mode Fine Custom Cabinetry, in Kreamer, PA. I recently was promoted to the roll of Group Leader – Lumber System. This role supervises operations and personnel from the time lumber arrives here, through our grading, sorting, and stacking line, air yard, pre-dryer, kilns, and rough mill. For the past four years I had an engineering roll supporting the lumber processing operation. I built information systems to monitor lumber utilization efficiency and cost effectiveness, and devised studies and improvement projects to benefit utilization. Additionally I handled various projects involving solid wood and composite processing issues, including piloting a prototype rustic cherry product line.

What I like most about my job:

The best parts of my job is the people I work with, and the challenge of juggling the elements needed to make improvements, from lumber vendors to rough mill employees.

Skills necessary to do my job well:

Probably the most important components of my professional function are analyzing the small issues that translate into large dollars in a lumber processing operation, developing procedures to control these issues, and communicating them to management and manufacturing employees.

Advice to students:

I would strongly advise potential and current students to do internships.

What I enjoyed most about the Wood Products major:

Both my undergraduate and graduate education provided me with a lot of the basic information that allows me to do my job, including lumber grades, drying issues, experiment design, log to lumber concepts, and lumber market issues, among others. My favorite thing about the wood products program was the small classes and the breadth of issues that were covered.