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History of the Forest Products Laboratory

Interview #926: Feist, William C. (June, 2009)

View all of First Interview Session (April 24, 2008)

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00:30:30 - 00:33:50 Forest Products Laboratory

Forest Products Laboratory, career, mark, impact, painting, finishes, industry, project, collaboration, public, publications, credit, reputation

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That worked out good. Do you feel like the work that you've done at the Forest Products Lab and elsewhere, do you feel like its left a mark within the organization and just in general?


Yeah the whole area of painting and finishing wood goes all the way back to 1922 at the Forest Products Lab, when the industry came to the Lab and asked them to help with some problems they were having with paint failure. It was failing and they didn't know why and they didn't really understand wood and didn't understand their paint necessary. But they wanted the Lab to develop a program to help them solve problems of paint failure in the field, not indoors but outside and so the Lab created an entire project, which was very successful, very early on they provided a lot of really fundamental work in helping the industry understand what was going on, how they could improve their products, how they could make better products. And also, the Lab could pass the information on to the general population, all aspects of the general population, and that was the single biggest thing they did and ever since 1922, the Laboratory has been know as a major source of unbiased information available to the wide population on protecting wood outdoors by painting and finishing and staining it. I continued that work starting in 1974 and I worked very hard to expand it, I contacted a lot of groups, I generated mailing lists, I would send out the information, I turned out publications, I would go to meetings where I would have a lot of contact with people, I would meet with painters, meeting with painting companies, wood companies.

We generated practical publications for almost every aspect of our research that we ever worked on and so we had a large number of publications, many of which today are still quoted on the internet, in paint magazines, in wood magazines, in universities. They were publications that were never copyrighted so that anybody could take them, literally put their name on it and publish it as an extension publication or an article in a magazine, which many people did, and that was the intent of it. Many times they'd give us credit, they might even mention my name, so people would know where it came from and that, of course, generated more questions and more contacts and more information requests. So I think in the end I ended up with certainly an international reputation as being one of the main workers in the field of painting and finishing wood and that has continued even today. Every once in a while, I see my name in an article in a magazine quoting something that was done as many as ten or twenty years ago.

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