The Marriott Long Wharf Hotel hosted the 82nd Annual Convention of the Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association (NELMA), April 23 & 24 in Boston. This year’s event was attended by 189 representatives of the forest products industry, the largest gathering of its kind in the northeast. The “State of the Association” presentation and Annual General Membership Meeting opened the Convention on Thursday, where NELMA President Jeff Easterling gave a status report on the Association’s accredited inspection programs, personnel changes in the field and headquarters office, marketing program and research project highlights, and the infamous “World of NELMA” map. Election of NELMA Officers and Board of Directors resulted in the following leadership: Chairman – Jethro Poulin of Milan Lumber (Milan, New Hampshire); 1st Vice Chairman – Scott Brown of DiPrizio Pine Sales (Middleton, New Hampshire); 2nd Vice Chairman – Alden Robbins of Robbins Lumber (Searsmont, Maine). New Board of Director members include: Susan Coulombe of Irving Forest Products (Dixfield, Maine), Chris Brochu of Pleasant River Lumber (Dover-Foxcroft, Maine), Matt Duprey of Hancock Lumber (Casco, Maine), representing Associate members on the Board, Chuck Gaede of Woodbrowser (New London, New Hampshire), and representing NSLB, Pete Aube of Potlatch Corp. (Bemidji, Minnesota). Two members were voted to the Advisory Committee, Win Smith, Jr. of Limington Lumber (Baldwin, Maine) representing Past Chairmen, and B. Manning of Durgin & Crowell (New London, New Hampshire) as Member-at-Large.
Following the opening session, Day 1 of the Convention continued with the popular Marketing Committee meeting where the forest products industry’s very first comic strip, The Adventures of Skip and Wane, was introduced to the crowd. A trio of presentations were given which included highlights of the 2014 marketing program by Jeff Easterling; upcoming projects such as NELMA’s new trade show exhibit and the next “door” for the online Virtual Home Tour, all presented by John Rooks of The SOAP Group agency; ending with a recap of PR activities by Kim Drew of Drew Public Relations that included “Wood Geeks”, trade press editorial opportunities, and launch of a media-targeted monthly email of NELMA projects and activities of interest. A presentation on the “Truth About Trees” program by Crystal Oldham of the Hardwood Forest Foundation and spokesperson Tommy MacDonald from the popular PBS Show, Rough Cut, ended the meeting. The Pine Subcommittee concluded the first day’s business sessions, where updates were reported on two NELMA-sponsored research projects at the University of Maine that involve Eastern White Pine tree diseases and pests. A diverse group of exhibitors were on hand for the “Products & Displays” program, held prior to and during the evening’s Welcome Reception. Thirteen companies took advantage of the 2-1/2 hour time slot to meet with current customers and attract new business during this prime networking opportunity.
Day 2 kicked off with the Dimension Subcommitee meeting where Norway Spruce sampling and testing was the primary topic of the meeting, followed by a video update on the issue of the Spruce Budworm outbreak on Maine’s doorstep and readiness plans to combat the cyclical pest should it become a major threat to the forest as it has in the past. Next, the 4th annual Sustainable Versatility Design Award (SVDA) program began with remarks from guest presenter, Andy Engel – Senior Editor of Fine Homebuilding magazine regarding trends in home building, followed by the presentation of the Rich Quitadamo Sustainable Versatility Design Award to this year’s 1st place winner, Jack Searcy of Texas A&M. Via Skype on the big screen, Mr. Searcy accepted the award and was joined by his professor, Dr. Ali, for an informative Q&A session with the program audience. Business took a break for the Industry Luncheon, featuring Bob Marley as guest entertainer and emcee for the first “Skip & Wane” caption contest, won by Alden Robbins of Robbins Lumber. Outgoing NELMA Chairman, Terry Walters, was honored for his service to the Association over the past 2 years, receiving the infamous NELMA Chair on stage as a token of appreciation from staff and the membership.
Afternoon meetings began with the Grading Committee followed immediately by a presentation on the topic of “The Economy is Mending So Why is the Housing Sector Still Sputtering?” by Brendan Lowney of Forest Economic Advisors (FEA). The Board of Directors meeting ended Day 2’s business sessions, which included guest presentations by Zoltan van Heyningen of the U.S. Lumber Coalition regarding industry options after the November expiration of the Softwood Lumber Agreement, and by Alden Robbins, the northeast representative to the Softwood Lumber Board, updating the check-off program’s activities and plans. The evening’s Chairman’s Reception provided attendees with one final face-to-face networking opportunity to end the 82nd Convention of NELMA.
Most of the meeting presentations have been posted to the “Members Area” of nelma.org website for viewing and printing.
The next meeting of the Association is set for September 24 & 25 at the Nonantum Resort in Kennebunkport, Maine as members and guests gather for the 2015 Fall Board Meeting and Golf Outing.