NELMA was the first stop in the U.S. for a group of 7 business owners or representatives of wood product importers from the country of Pakistan. Accompanied by the Agriculture Marketing Specialist with the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, the two-day visit was made possible through the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service’s Cochran Fellowship Program. The primary objective of the program is to promote U.S. industry by bringing qualified importers from emerging global markets to the U.S. to establish business relationships with manufacturers and distributors of products of interest. In this case it was softwood lumber manufactured by NELMA mills in the Northeast.
Day One of the visit constituted a meeting of the importer group with NELMA member manufacturers and distributors at the Association’s HQ office in Cumberland, Maine. The relationship process began with an overview presentation of the Northeastern softwood lumber industry by NELMA staff, followed by an informative narrative from the importers regarding Pakistan’s growing need for softwood lumber and images of how the country’s moulding/millwork and window/door industry currently uses wood. It was noted that during the last 5 years, U.S. wood product exports to Pakistan increased 400% and 2014 trade in wood is expected to exceed $30 million.
The afternoon session on Day One was devoted to presentations by NELMA’s member participants regarding their business operations, followed by an interactive, open discussion forum to further add to the relationship building process between NELMA and the importer group.
Day Two incorporated a mill visit to Hancock Lumber Company’s Casco, Maine operation to experience the lumber manufacturing and grading process for Eastern White Pine. Various NELMA grades were available for hands-on viewing and follow-up discussion between the importers and industry representation on the tour. To round out the day, the group toured a forest harvesting site within the area to learn more about the general forest management practices of the industry and the bright future of sustainability for softwoods grown in the northeast.
“This interactive event that brings NELMA’s members in contact with interested importers from around the globe is a perfect example of the type of program the Association hopes to continue in the future”, according to Jeff Easterling, NELMA’s President. “While we are not as large as our Southern and Western forest industry counterparts, bringing more attention to the wide-variety of sustainable wood products produced in the Northeast can lead to additional marketing options for the membership.”
NELMA would like to thank Hancock Lumber Company and their gracious staff for hosting the mill and forest tour for the group during their visit.