NELMA’s 14th Annual Eastern White Pine Graders Competition was hosted by Robbins Lumber Company’s Searsmont, Maine mill on September 9. A total of 46 graders representing 10 Eastern White Pine mills located in New England participated in this year’s competition. The tournament knock-out format was again used to determine the eventual individual grader champion. Fourth-seeded Matt Chesley of DiPrizio Pine Sales in Middleton, New Hampshire took top honors, edging out Garret Blair of Hancock Lumber’s Pittsfield, Maine mill in the finals.
Rounding out the Top 8 receiving individual awards were: 3rd Place – Lonnie Kollander of Limington Lumber; 4th Place – Norm Littlefield of Madison Lumber Mill; 5th Place – Ron Heinecke of host mill Robbins Lumber; 6th Place – Colan Jay Merrifield, also of Robbins Lumber; 7th Place – Waylon Fournier of Irving Forest Products; and 8th Place went to Sara Knox, also from Irving Forest Products in her first graders competition. Total cash awards amounted to $1,400 this year.
The tournament format also gives each participant the opportunity to grade lumber a minimum of two rounds, leading up to the Consolation finals. Making it through this bracket as Consolation Round winner was Cornel Berry of Pleasant River Pine’s Hancock, Maine mill.
The final competition of the day was for the Team Championship and the coveted Bronze Hammer Trophy. This year marked the closest team final to date as 2 mill teams finished with a perfect 10 out of 10 score, leaving the time it took to grade the samples as the tie-breaker. By a 10 second advantage, Hancock Lumber’s Casco mill took the 2017 title over Irving Forest Products. This was Casco’s third overall team title and 2 out of the last 3 years!
“This event provides a unique setting for individuals within the lumber grading profession to learn more about the Eastern White Pine grades and showcase their knowledge in a friendly competition,” stated Matt Pomeroy, NELMA’s Director of Inspection Services.
NELMA wishes to thank Robbins Lumber Company, its owners and employees, for their welcoming hospitality in hosting this year’s competition! Look for format changes next year based upon input received from grader participants that should make the event even better!