Eleven NELMA mills sent a total of 57 graders to the 2014 Eastern White Pine Graders Competition, held Saturday, June 21 at Robbins Lumber Company in Searsmont, Maine. This year’s event would yield a series of firsts, beginning with; this was the first time this annual competition has been hosted by Robbins Lumber since it all began in 2004.
The contest featured the typical 50 stationary boards, previously selected by NELMA’s Inspection staff, and the 5 minute time limit for each participant to identify the grade of each piece. The test boards featured a variety of widths and lengths and included all 5 NELMA Eastern White Pine grades. The mix tallied out as 2 C-Select boards, 6 D-Select, 3 Finish grade, 17 Premium, 14 Standard, and 8 Industrial boards.
To say the total time to complete the grading ID process was important would be an understatement, as this tiebreaker was used 4 times to determine the final Top 8 individuals. Taking First Place was Jason Fuller of Robbins Lumber by a close 17 seconds over Second Place finisher, Matt Chesley of DiPrizio Pine Sales. Val Sanborn of Robbins Lumber took Third Place, edging out Lonnie Kollander of Limington Lumber (Fourth Place) by 9 seconds. Fifth place went to Nathan Edwards of Hancock Lumber’s Casco mill. Sixth and Seventh Place was decided by a 5 second difference between Mike Rafuse of Irving Forest Products and Eric Graffam of Limington Lumber. Gene Black, also of Limington Lumber took Eighth Place, in a tiebreaker over Cheryl Johnson of DiPrizio Pine Sales.
This was the first time that a female grader has finished in the Top 8 in the 11 years of the Eastern White Pine Competition, with Val Sanborn of Robbins Lumber finishing in Third Place. Ms. Sanborn also placed the highest in the Bonus Round that included all Top 8 finishers in a final challenge to grade 10 additional boards. In all, a total of $1,475 was distributed to the winners of this year’s competition.
Another first: Robbins Lumber Company winning the Team title and Bronze Hammer Trophy, with a total score of 69 points. Second Place for team title ended in a tie between Limington Lumber and DiPrizio Pine Sales with 66 total points. Congratulations to Limington Lumber for placing 3 individuals in the Top 8! Rounding out the Top 5 team scores: Hancock Lumber’s Casco team in Fourth Place (63 points) and Irving Forest Products finishing in 5th with 61 total points.
Our final “first” was the introduction of a “Guess the Number of Knots in the Jar” contest, which featured a packed container of Eastern White Pine knots for participants to test their visual skills. Final guestimates ranged from 31 to 237, with Dylan Blackman of Hancock Lumber @ Casco accurately guessing the knot total of 79.
Congratulations to all 57 participants in this year’s competition for a job well done and taking this opportunity to enhance your skills and meet & mingle with others within your grading profession. NELMA would like to extend its gratitude to Robbins Lumber Company for their generosity in hosting the 2014 EWP Graders Competition. And kudos to the chef for a great lunch!
Photos from the Competition: