Coffee Break with Doug Rassi

Welcome to the first post of many posts in a series we’re calling “Coffee Break”. This is your chance to get to know the people behind POLYWOOD in a way that’s, well, very us: casual and laid back. So grab your coffee, sit back and enjoy!

When deciding who first to interview, Doug Rassi was the obvious first choice. Here’s what I learned after sitting down with our President, CEO & Co-Founder…

Doug Rassi, President, CEO & Co-Founder of POLYWOOD All Weather Furnishings

How do you take your coffee?

At work…black. It’s focused and simple–expedient.


On the weekends or on the road…half/half cream with 1 raw sugar and a sprinkle of vanilla–very specific. And, if we’re at a coffee shop, I add in the extras myself, which may say something about how I like control 🙂

How would you describe yourself in one word?



Tell me about a memorable moment from POLYWOOD’s early days?

Mark Philabaum, who co-founded Poly-Wood with me, and I are both what I would call “business seers” or visionaries in the sense that we enjoy talking about future business plans. When we get together for lunch nowadays, this is our typical topic. Anyway, picture many years ago when Poly-Wood was a lot smaller and only owned 1 of the manufacturing buildings (Bldg. 1) on Brooklyn Street and part of Bldg. 2.


Mark and I were standing outside looking at our building (and a half) and he started to tell me about a dream he had had. He dreamt that Poly-Wood owned all seven facilities on Brooklyn Street, with lumber extruders as far as the eye could see. We talked about how great that would be, but we saw aspects of the dream that were unattainable. Nevertheless, we would remind each other of the dream every time we purchased another building.


Years later, after we had purchased six of the seven buildings (with plans to acquire the seventh), I told the story of Mark’s dream to our small group of employees at our annual Christmas party. At the time it meant a lot to me, but we were still years away from really grasping how far we would go.


Here we are today, having celebrated the demolition of Bldg 7 and the groundbreaking of our new state-of-the-art facility which will house our manufacturing, shipping and warehousing. We’ll be doubling our workforce and adding many more lumber extruders…not far off from Mark’s dream long ago.


Doug in 1993 with one of our Adirondack chairs (still one of our most popular pieces today).


What was your very first job? What skills/experiences from that job do you use here at POLYWOOD?

I grew up on my parents’ farm so work was a part of life. There’s real value in your work ethic, it’s something that’s required of you to survive on the farm. My earliest memories are of feeding the cattle before school and fighting with frozen drinking water for the animals during Indiana winters.

Fun fact?

I play the guitar and have actually written 20 or so songs


Who is your role model?  

I don’t have a particular role model; as humans we all have faults that aren’t so inspiring. I do, however, admire and aspire to the qualities of healthy leaders. Good, healthy leadership is what we hope to provide here at Poly-Wood.

What advice do you give your kids? (Doug has 6 children, BTW)

We all want our children to distinguish right from wrong, make the right decisions in life. I often ask them, “Is this a life decision or a death decision?” They know that ‘life decisions’ will honor God and open the doors for great things to happen in their life; ‘death decisions’ will ultimately lead them down a destructive path.


Any “Dougisms” you can share with us?

If you want to figure out why something has happened, etc. ‘follow the money trail’. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of why certain decisions were made.

One thought on “Coffee Break with Doug Rassi

  1. It has been so wonderful to watch this process and how you both have worked so hard to continue to make a positive impact on the community!

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