Born in Grand Ronde, Oregon in 1929, and lived his early years in meager surroundings. He attended school while his Father, R.H. "Curly" Emmerson built sawmills in Oregon and California.
In 1948, at age 19, Emmerson arrived in Arcata, California where he began working in mills learning as much as he could about every job in the plant.
In 1949 Emmerson and his Father formed a partnership and went into the lumber Business together, eventually producing Manufacturing facilities in the North West. Under Emmerson’s management the company grew into Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) – now the second largest lumber Producer in the U.S.
Through the Sierra Pacific Foundation, Emmerson gave millions of dollars in community contributions. The Foundation was established in 1979 by Red’s Father. Over the years, Red has continued to fund the Foundation to meet its philanthropic commitment to worthy organizations, community projects, youth activities, and student scholarships for the communities where the company has operating facilities.
As of 2016, he is the third largest private land owner in the United States.