NELMA Welcomes Egypt Furniture Manufacturers

A group of 9 representatives from the furniture industry in Egypt visited New England the week of August 28 to learn first-hand about Eastern White Pine.  Sponsored by the USDA’s Cochran Fellowship Program, the overall mission of this activity is to bring potential buyers from what is considered emerging markets for U.S. products to educate the visitors on wood products manufactured in various regions of Video Cover Imagethe country.  NELMA’s goal is to make sure the northeast is a stop on the circuit for these groups to provide an in-depth understanding of the forest resource and the manufacturing/grading process as we showcase the variety of products available from our membership.At mill

The visit began with an exchange of information at the NELMA HQ Office, as each visitor described their company and current use and source of wood materials.  This was followed with a presentation by Jeff Easterling, NELMA President, that covered all aspects of the northeastern softwood species including grades, machining qualities, and its versatility in end-use applications.  Two days of mill tours to Eastern White Pine lumber manufacturers provided a unique experience for each of the participants as it was the first lumber manufacturing operations they had ever seen.  Being able to touch and feel the finished, graded product was the highlight of the education process.  The week’s tour ended with a visit to the Harvard School Forest to see various forest management practices along with a timber harvesting operation taking place nearby.  Coming from a treeless country, the vast forests of New England were nearly overwhelming to our guests from Egypt.

“Learning that there are more than 200 furniture manufacturing companies located in Egypt and that their extensive market reach extends toharvesting most of the Mediterranean and Middle East as a product hub was impressive”, according to Jeff Easterling.  “While Egypt may not be a market for our members next week, next month, or even next year, these individuals are now very familiar with our species as a potential lumber resource when economics permit in the future.”

Members that would like to receive contact information for the individuals that participated from Egypt, please contact the Association for a complete listing.  NELMA would like to extend its sincere thank you to Robbins Lumber Company, Hancock Lumber Company, and the Harvard School Forest for graciously hosting the group during their visit to New England.

Something Extra from NELMA in the September Issue of Building Products Digest

Front of Poly-Bag
Front of Poly-Bag

Lumber retailer and wholesaler subscribers to the Building Products Digest (BPD) located east of the Mississippi River received something totally different in the mail this month.  Their September issue was delivered to them in a clear poly-bag for the first time ever that included the NELMA Map!  The Map is the “kitchen sink” publication that covers all aspects of both Eastern White Pine and SPFs in a colorful, 8-fold poster that also includes member mill locations and contact information.

And yes there’s more:  The September issue is also the annual Spotlight month for Eastern White Pine and NELMA.  This is the 13th year that the Digest has provided this opportunity for the Association to include editorial on NELMA’s marketing program & activities relevant to the recognition of the species.  This year’s 10-page special section covers a member mill’s use of the Grader Academy, a focus on the inserted “Map”, online tools available from NELMA, the Association’s Retailer Outreach Program start-up, Skip & Wane, and the Sustainable Versatility Design Award winners for 2016.

“This mega, attention-getting and economical combination format greatly extends NELMA’s marketing message to a huge segment of our retailer and wholesaler target audience in ways that a print advertisement could never do.” Explained Jeff Easterling, NELMA President.  “Subscribers cannot help but see the Map when they open the poly-bag, then curiosity will take over.”

Back of Poly-Bag
Back of Poly-Bag

NELMA would like to thank Patrick Adams, Publisher of BPD, for coming up with this unique approach and working with the Association’s design team to make it happen.  NELMA would also like to thank the members that placed an advertisement within the special section this year, which permitted the 10 pages of editorial.

To view/read the special section, follow this link.

Eastern White Pine on the Rise: Lumber Sales Skyrocketed This Year

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Sales of Eastern White Pine lumber from NeLMA mills hit record highs during the first half of 2016, maintaining a steady rate that’s well above previous numbers reported over the last decade. The Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association notes that a total of 471.7 million board feet of lumber was shipped out to the marketplace between January and June, including 220.4 million board feet of Eastern White Pine. 2015 represented the previous high, and Eastern White Pine bested itself with an increase of 8.4%.

This news comes on the heels of promising predictions for the building industry overall, as well as growth in Maine’s forest products industry despite the closure of paper mills. Demand for timber is on the upswing, and the outlook is good for sawmills and other businesses working in the wood industry.

Back in March, we reported on a spike in interest in wood-centric construction projects, as many consumers are choosing wood over steel and concrete for their own building projects. All of the recent buzz about multi-story wooden buildings probably doesn’t hurt.

NELMA Meets in Boston for its 83rd Annual Convention

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 Convention Logoan 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.

Lumber and Sons: White Pine Monographs Chronicle Family-Owned Mills

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Continuing the tradition that began over a century ago, the Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association presents modern-day editions of the White Pine Series of Architectural Monographs, a publication promoting the use of white pine as a building material. While many of the older issues focus on Colonial architecture in the Northeast, others put the spotlight on the material itself, and the people who make it available to the world. In Volume XXX, Issue II, published in 2011, we get to meet the families that run several mills, including Robbins Lumber Company and Pleasant River Lumber.

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NeLMA visited with these families and spoke to them about their passion for forestry, their sustainability practices, and how they manage transition to keep up with the changing times. Jim Robbins, for example, is a steward of the land his family owns, ensuring that both the forests and his business remain healthy. They’ve got 30,000 acres under their direct management, with 130 years of family experience. Says Jim, “You give the best soils, the best seed stock, the best management techniques and hopefully we will come out with the best pine product in the end.”

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The Brochu Brothers are the fourth generation to run Pleasant River Lumber, a 100% family-owned Maine business producing over 100 million board feet of spruce dimensional lumber and Eastern White Pine annually. While the brothers initially went their own way after college, choosing not to enter the family business, they ultimately returned, bringing fresh ideas with them.

Read the whole story in this issue of the White Pine Monographs. – Visually Enhanced!

To keep things online-fresh, a visual overhaul has been completed for NELMA’s website, the Association’s primary informational portal for its promotion of Eastern White Pine.  Multiple activities within NELMA’s marketing program point directly to the resources available within its many pages since the website’s introduction some 10 years 4-1-16

The new look keeps it in-step with the trend of webpage simplicity, utilizing a white background, a simplified homepage heading, and a 3-column, straight-forward navigation system. The left two columns are utilized for relevant news content that feature Eastern White Pine or other intriguing wood use application to draw the attention of the viewer.  New articles are added frequently to complete the freshness of the site.

The last column features stationary program boxes for easy access to NELMA’s signature items:  the Virtual Home Tour, the Wood Geeks, the Grader Academy, and the full library of the historical and contemporary issues of The White Pine Series of Architectural Monographs.  Located directly below these headline boxes within the last column, visitors may search for articles specific to subject, view the most recent article content, or select by the article’s “Tag”.

“Keeping our online presence up-to-date is key to offering a positive, feel-good experience for viewers of our websites,” reported Jeff Easterling, President of NELMA.  “Removing any navigation frustrations when searching for specific information also creates a happy potential customer!”