Most home builders did not know Harry Merlo, but every single one of them knows his product. He died last month, and this obit from Friday's Wall Street Journal is well worth reading:

Harry Merlo worked his way out of poverty, boxed for the Marines, married a beauty queen, founded a winery and tried to teach manners to the tennis star John McEnroe.

He was equally bold in business. As chief executive of timber company Louisiana-Pacific Corp., he invested heavily in what was then a little-known product, oriented strand board, a cheaper substitute for plywood. That mottled board now serves as wall, floor and roof panels for most new U.S. homes. The company’s directors pushed him out in 1995 when defects in a related siding product led to a barrage of lawsuits.

“Yes, I have also suffered a few setbacks,” he wrote in a memoir, “but I regard these as part of a full life.”

Mr. Merlo died Oct. 24 at home in Portland, Ore. He was 91 and had been suffering from leukemia.

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