NELMA was once again the first stop in the U.S. for a group from Pakistan involved with importing softwoods and hardwoods from around the world. Accompanied by the Agriculture Marketing Specialist with the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Rashid Raja, the group of 9, made up mostly of the next generation of buyers within their companies, were guests of the Association for their 2 day visit, May 16 & 17.
Their visit was made possible through the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service’s Cochran Fellowship Program, the second from Pakistan since the 2014 visit. The primary objective of this federal 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.
The first day included a visit to the NELMA HQ office for a half-day of a meet and greet program that included a background presentation on northeastern softwoods and the Association’s role in the grading process, by Jeff Easterling, NELMA’s President. Each visitor provided insight into their individual company, its history of importing lumber, a description of how U.S. softwoods products are used in Pakistan, and their specific U.S. product interests. This interactive session also incorporated company and product information provided by the NELMA manufacturing and associate members present for the meeting
Day Two incorporated a mill visit to Limington Lumber Company in East Baldwin, Maine, where the Pakistanis were provided with an in-depth tour of the sawmill, kiln-drying operation, planer mill and the mill’s shaving product packaging operation. The tour ended with a hands-on viewing and subsequent interactive discussion on the various grades of Eastern White Pine that are available from northeastern mills, with their primary interest in Industrial and Standard grades of lumber as anticipated.
Rounding out both days were visits to two types of lumber retail operations, the first to Hancock Lumber Company’s Yarmouth, Maine operation that’s geared towards the professional builder customer. The second visit was to Lowe’s, giving the visitors a perspective on a retailer that caters to a general consumer, do-it-yourselfer type lumber retail operation.
“While NELMA’s members’ products are well established in Pakistan, providing hands-on information and adding to their understanding about the industry through a first-hand experience can only help bring about more business opportunities in the future,” stated Jeff Easterling. “We relish being part of this type of engaging activity that can only benefit the industry down the road.”
NELMA would like to thank Win Smith, Jr. of Limington Lumber Company and Harland Storey of Hancock Lumber’s Yarmouth Lumber Retail Operation for taking time from their business day to provide our guests with their generous hospitality..