The 83rd annual convention of the Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association (NELMA) was held on April 28 & 29 with 150 in attendance for the largest gathering of the forest industry in the Northeast. The Opening Session included The State of the Association presentation and General Business Meeting with NELMA Chairman Jethro Poulin presiding. Jeff Easterling, NELMA President, provided an overview of the operational status of the Association to begin the session, followed by the re-nomination of NELMA’s officers for a second year of their 2-year term by the membership. This included Jethro Poulin of Milan Lumber (Chairman), Scott Brown of DiPrizio Pine Sales (1st Vice Chairman), Alden Robbins of Robbins Lumber (2nd Vice Chairman), Randy Caron of Caron Consulting (Treasurer), and B. Manning of Durgin & Crowell as the At-Large member of the Board of Directors Advisory Committee.
The opening session was followed by a meeting of the Marketing Committee where a variety of reports were presented to update the membership on recent and future planned promotional and educational activities. This included presentations on recently completed promotional activities (Jeff Easterling), the overall plan for 2016 with details provided on the 4 new program additions: the Retailer Outreach Program, SPFs v. SPF education, a video version of the grade swatch, and the first accredited Continuing Education online course for architects and designers (John Rooks), and NELMA’s PR campaign successes (Kim Drew). Additional information regarding activities under the Softwood Lumber Board’s (SLB) marketing program was presented by Alden Robbins, the Northeastern representative on SLB, followed by an informative review of an SLB-funded project at Harvard University regarding the thermal characteristics of wood structures by Jacob Mans and Benjamin Peek of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Opportunities for attendees to network and leisurely visit the 13 Products & Displays, followed by the Welcoming Reception ended the first day of the Convention.
Day 2 began with a meeting of the Dimension Subcommittee, with 2 main topics on the agenda. An update on the recently completed full-size lumber testing project for Norway Spruce by NELMA was reviewed for members, which included a 3-minute video trailer of a longer documentary that covers the process from start to finish. The meeting also included guest speaker, Zoltan van Heyningen, Executive Director of the U.S. Lumber Coalition, who provided remarks on the government to government talks that will hopefully lead to the next Softwood Lumber Agreement with Canada.
To capture the top-of-mind thoughts, design trends, and candid feedback from important customers of northeastern softwoods, the first-ever “Conversation with Customers” event was conducted at the Convention. Representing various end-users of wood products, the panel included Architect, Scott Simons of Simons Architects, Designer Tyler Karu of Landing / Design, Builder Rick Arnold of Arnold & Sons
Builders, and Secondary Manufacturer Michael Fritz of Home Brands. The Conversation was moderated by NELMA’s Marketing Committee Chairman, Dan Paige of Sandy Neck Traders who incorporated a variety of important topics that lead to valuable discussions between the panelists and Association members in the audience during the 1 ½ hour program.
The Industry Luncheon featured entertainment by Vihn Giang with his Psychology of Illusion program that incorporated a mix of magic with an inspirational and insightful message for the audience. Following the luncheon program, the Association’s Grading Committee met, with the primary agenda item of revising the NELMA Grading Policy and Procedures. The final business event of the Convention was the Board of Directors meeting that preceded the Chairman’s Reception that ended the 2016 Annual Convention.
The next NELMA meeting will be held September 22 and 23 at the Harraseeket Inn, Freeport, Maine, as the host for the Fall Board of Directors meeting, Chairman’s Dinner, and Golf Tournament.
In 2017, the Association will move to a single annual event that will combine the Spring Convention with the Fall Board of Directors meeting and Golf Tournament. The 84th Annual NELMA Convention and Golf Tournament will be held September 20-22, 2017 at the Newport Marriott in Newport, Rhode Island.