The Campbell Group has come out of the woods and business is booming once again.
Timberland assets at the Portland, Ore., firm have surged to a hefty $1.3 billion in the last year and a half, thanks to recent mandates from the $157 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento; the $40.6 billion Washington State Investment Board, Olympia; and the $12.8 billion Harvard Investment Management Co., Boston.
The Campbell Group, founded in 1981 as a timberland investment firm, developed a strategic alliance with Hancock Timber Resource Group, Boston, 12 years ago, under which Campbell acquired and managed the Northwest timber while Hancock managed Southern and Northeastern portfolios.
But in late 1997, the two firms couldn't agree on what kind of fees the Campbell Group should be paid, and Hancock terminated the contract as of January 1998.
"Since Hancock had 99% of the business, we were forced to start over," said Duncan Campbell, president. He hired a marketing manager, while parent company United Asset Management, Boston, provided capital until Campbell recovered.
Mr. Campbell said the firm plans to expand beyond the Northwest and is now looking in the Southeast. He added that Harvard had hired the firm both for Northwest timberland and other areas in the United States as well as overseas.
He attributed the firm's rapid growth to its entrepreneurial spirit. "We're assertive and opportunistic, always looking for the best deals. But we don't chase deals. If something is of poor quality or overpriced, we drop out."