January 6, 1965
Dear Mr. Dennis,
This morning about 10 A.M. I had a visit from two representatives of the Main Plant who were anxious to discuss some of the aspects of the wood and sawmill business here in Mississippi. As you know, it is my policy to always receive such representatives with courtesy and discuss with them the GENERAL aspects of the wood business without ever going into any of our SPECIFIC methods of logging, sawing and planer mill operation. However, on this occasion, the two Main Plant representatives were so young, insolent, and aggressive that I was forced to order them off of the premesis before any real discussion had taken place. I did this reluctantly as you can imagine, but I felt it was the best course of action under this particular and peculiar set of circumstances. Actually if one is very careful in such discussions, one may occasionally discover information of value concerning the future market value of our sawmill products.
There was a particularly valuable bit of information dropped as we parted, which is the prime reason for this communication. After being asked to leave, the more agressive of the two (in a heated and rather breathless fashion) notified me that they KNEW that I was involved in the large logging operation which is centered in your area, and WARNED me NOT to go back into your specific area again. I remained very calm and bit back a defiant reply, then returned to my interrupted work. After several hours of reflection on this unpleasant experience, I have come to a very hopeful and encouraging conclusion. That is, that while the situation as regards the big logging operation is horrible it is NOT HOPELESS.
My expereince this morning convinces me that the Main Plant is in possession of all the information regarding our secret logging operation, due to the loose talk of some of our truck drivers, but that as far as FACTS are concerned, they have nothing of value for which they could sue us. Their THREAT to me which forbids me to come into your area again is chock full of infromation. It means that my technical advice has injured and hampered their timber scaling operation. It means that we were correct in firing that personnel manager. It means that they are now probably working against a SOLID, blank wall in your area, and do not want me working to maintain it while they work to crack it. IT VERY PROBABLY MEANS THAT THEY NO LONGER HAVE ANY SOURCE OF INFORMATION IN YOUR AREA, because if they did, why would they object to my coming there and exposing myself further each time I do ? I urge you to consider this last point very carefully. I am very greatly encouraged by it.
Naturally, the threat itself, I consider only from the standpoint of what intelligence may be gleaned from it. I have been a sawmill man for too long now to become subservient to the will of some furniture manufacturers regardless of how well they may have the market sewed up. They are going to have to let us make a decent profit on our mills, or else we are going to have to continue to slip logs by their scalers. Any time that you feel that I may be of service in your area, do not hesitate to call on me.
I would like for you to pass this encouraging information along, INDIRECTLY, to all of our sawyers and truck drivers. I want them to be as restful and calm as possible at this time. Also, I think that this instance herin cited as is just another example of why I believe that all of our emplyees should report to OUR timber scaler at onece whenever any Main Plant scaler questions him about our operations. We should always strive to do everything possible to ensure that EVERY time contact is made between our side and the Main Plant, that we come out of the ordeal with Intelligence regarding their position, just as they do of ours. Admittedly, the average employee cannot evaluate Intelligence, but he can REPORT the contact to OUR scalers for evaluation. This, I want you to urge them to do.
You may show this DIRECT communication to our scaler (who detected the crooked personnel manager) for his interest and evaluation, but to none other. However, both you and he may use the sense of what is contained here for INDIRECT communication to other sawmill men, especially those who have been deep in the swamp.
I am also enclosing a communication, which, I believe is self expanatory.