Recap of NELMA’s 79th Annual Convention

Convention_Logo-2012-smallThe 79th Annual Convention of the Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association (NELMA) was held April 26 & 27 at the Seaport Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts.  Integrating the historically-successful mantra of “(Innovation + Technology) x People = Sustainable Versatility” a total of 183 individuals representing 87 companies involved with the northeastern softwood lumber industry were in attendance during the 1- 1/2 day event.  NELMA Chairman Peter Buckley of Mill River Lumber welcomed attendees at the Opening Session that included the “State of the Association” update by the Association President, Jeff Easterling, and the Annual General Business Meeting.  Elected to first year terms on the Board of Directors were Doug Chaisson of J.D. Irving Inc. and Associate Representative, Dante Diorio of Diorio Forest Products.  Elected to a second term on the Board were Nicolas Fontaine of Stratton Lumber, Chuck Gaede of Durgin & Crowell, and Kevin Hynes of Hancock Lumber.

Meetings conducted the first day of the Convention included the Marketing Committee and the Pine Subcommittee.  A review of marketing program activities and measurements for 2011 was presented by John Rooks of The SOAP Group, NELMA’s marketing consultant firm, along with new 2012 concepts for review by members of the Committee.  Kim Drew of Drew PR, the Association’s new Public Relations consultant, introduced her plans to assist NELMA in garnering greater recognition of northeastern softwoods with the all-important consumer and trade media.  The Pine Subcommittee’s primary focus centered on the Eastern White Pine section of the revised 2012 Standard Grading Rules for Northeastern Lumber and associated Interpretations.  The Subcommittee will continue its review of the grading rules and interpretations over the spring and summer to ensure consistency and report its finding to the Grading Committee when completed.

94efb6aed2410d6c7072cbd40985dd4dFor this year’s Convention, NELMA welcomed 14 exhibitors that participated in the Products and Services Display Center. Open prior to and during the Welcome Reception, Convention attendees were able to view and discuss a wide variety of information in a casual setting, from operational software and services to milling and drying equipment manufacturers.

An early-bird opening of the NELMA Café kicked-off day two of the Convention followed by a meeting of NELMA’s Dimension Lumber Subcommittee.  The group gave the green-light to the new SPFs-dedicated website in addition to a detailed update regarding the ongoing SPFs lumber species-specific testing in the NSLB region.  Additional lumber testing by NELMA for specific species was discussed and included Norway Spruce, Eastern Hemlock, and Eastern Spruce/Balsam Fir.

Additional member meetings held on day two included the Grading Committee, where the NELMA Safety Awards were presented, and the NELMA Board of Directors meeting, where the final actions of the committee and subcommittees were reviewed.  Industry issues presentations and updates were provided to the Board by Zoltan van Heyningen of the U.S. Lumber Coalition (the latest arbitration activities and a look to the future for the Agreement) and Phil Ruck, P.E. of CES Inc. (upcoming environmental deadlines for the industry and ongoing log watering research).

f9bafde5543328c28476029d2d09f9f7New to this year’s Schedule of Events was the inaugural Sustainable Versatility Design Award Program and Presentation.  Guest Speaker and Award Presenter Steve Thomas provided the framework for the merits of sustainable building construction and design with an informative and entertaining program on his experiences with wood and its undervalue as a renewable, reusable material.  This first-year design competition for college students was themed “What’s Small and Made of Wood” and compelled future architects to design a structure of 600 square feet that prominently featured Eastern White Pine. The First Place “Susty”award went to Maynard Hayden Leon of Harvard University for his design of “Studio Soleil”, an outdoor music sanctuary that incorporated multiple sustainable features throughout the open-ended structure.  Second place went to Benjamin J. Greer of Northeastern University for his design of “Home”, a unique, cleverly-compacted two-story family living space with a sustainable footprint.

The Industry Luncheon included Guest Speaker Jim Morris who entertained the attendees with his riveting life story and motivational message centered on his dream-come-true of beginning his professional major league baseball career at an older age. (Basis for the popular 2002 movie, “The Rookie”).  Following lunch, Paul Jannke of Forest Economic Advisors LLC, provided the members with the latest economic outlook titled, “Wood Products Markets Are on the Rise, But the Recovery Will Be Lackluster”.

The 79th edition of the largest gathering of the lumber industry in the Northeast concluded with the Chairman’s Reception on Friday evening, followed by a night on the town from the “Boston A la Cart” menu of diverse entertainment options.

Join us this fall for the Board of Directors meeting and NELMA Golf Outing, set for September 20 & 21 at the York Harbor Inn – York, Maine.  And mark your calendars for the Association’s 80th anniversary celebration at the NELMA Convention in Boston next spring, April 4 & 5, 2013!