Class of 2004

Carl Abendroth
Carl Abendroth was born in Rhinelander, Wisconsin on February 14, 1925. He grew up in Rhinelander although he attended high school at Northwestern Military and Naval Academy in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Throughout his youth he worked part-time at the Robbins mill in Rhinelander, learning every production position from the ground up. Carl was the third generation Abendroth, following his father Walter and Grandfather Albert's footsteps.
After high school Carl worked full-time at the mill in Rhinelander until January 1944. He started college at Valpariso University but took a reprieve in 1945 to serve in the Army for 2 years in Japan. He returned to school and graduated in 1950 with a degree in Business Administration.
Carl returned home, now in Reed City, Michigan. The Rhinelander plant was destroyed by fire in 1948 and the Abendroth family had purchased a plant in Reed City from E.L. Bruce Company. Interestingly, this was the same plant that Albert built with William Horner in 1891.
Applying his plant production experience with his business training, Carl quickly moved into the company sales area with great passion building customer and architect relationships. He was taking a new approach by selling to the floor contractor directly and showing architects the value of specifying systems for sport floors with much success. This eventually changed the selling approach by all the other maple mills. Carl brought in new customers and developed loyalties between the contractor and company that lasts to this day. From 1955 through 1962 this approach was successful enough to challenge the full-time production capabilities for Robbins with plants in Reed City and Ishpeming, Michigan and White Lake, Wisconsin.
Shortly after marriage in 1951, Carl was appointed the hardwood flooring representative to the Office of Price Stabilization in Washington DC under the recommendation of Lloyd Claudy the Secretary Manager of the MFMA. He filled that position for one year until the OSP began to be phased out late in 1952.
During his time in the industry Carl was involved in the MFMA. In 1955 he was the Chairman of the Advertising Committee and remained in that position for ten years. The Advertising Committee marketed the MFMA to the architectural community, developing trade magazine advertising and utilizing press releases. They also made personal visits to many architects around the country.
Carl served as the President of the MFMA for five years starting in 1965. During his tenure the association was effective and harmonious and many other associations looked to the MFMA as a model for success. Promotion and cooperation for the betterment of an industry was the focus and the mission. He also served on the Board of Directors and Chairman of the Wood Promotion Committee for the National Lumber Manufacturers Association from 1967 through 1971.
He remained a MFMA Board of Director until 1990. During the early 1980's the Forestry Division of the Department of Agriculture was sponsoring trade missions abroad. Carl was involved with the Board that put together trade mission plans and gained approval for association trips including one trip to Europe and three trips to the Far East between 1982 and 1986. The MFMA had made some in-roads establishing recognition of the MFMA globally.
Carl's length of service to MFMA ran from 1952 to 1990 ending after 37 years of association and industry advancements.
When Walter Abendroth sold Robbins to E.L. Bruce Co. in 1962 Carl stayed on as Executive VP and when Cook Industries added E.L. Bruce to its conglomerate he became President of Robbins. After the end-to-end hay-days, he was involved in system development ranging from sleeper and padded plywood systems to mechanically fastened systems that came into the picture in the early 1960's. In fact, development and testing became a big part of business operations and was the genesis of hybrid systems focusing on performance. In the early 1970's Carl oversaw the expansion of product lines such as sheet goods, poured urethane, synthetic grass and carpet in response to customer and market demands.
Carl left Robbins in 1975 and started AGA Corporation with partners Bill Gamble and Roy Ahonen. They set-up a plant in Amasa, Michigan and joined the MFMA immediately. He continued with system development and customer relations. In 1985 he sold the business to Connor Forest Industries and stayed on as a consultant until 1990.
Carl is retired and living in Sayner, Wisconsin with his wife Suzanne and near his children and grandchildren.
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