The Seaport Hotel in Boston played host to the 81st Annual Convention of the Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association (NELMA) on April 10 and 11 with the theme of “Above Board and Online: Where Integrity Meets Technology”. A total of 163 attendees representing 76 companies participated in this largest yearly gathering of the northeastern lumber industry. The meeting began with an Opening Session & General Membership Meeting where a “State of the Association” presentation was given by Jeff Easterling, NELMA President. The membership also held elections for Association Directors and Officers at this session, with Jeff Desjardins of Moose River Lumber – Jackman, Maine elected to a 3-year first term on the Board of Directors. The current officers were re-nominated and elected to fulfill a second year of their term, which included Chairman Terry Walters, Pleasant River Pine – Sanford, Maine; 1st Vice-Chairman Jethro Poulin, Milan Lumber – Milan, New Hampshire; 2nd Vice-Chairman Scott Brown, DiPrizio Pine Sales – Middleton, New Hampshire; and Treasurer Randy Caron, Caron Consulting – Garfield Plantation, Maine.
First day meetings included the Marketing Committee and the Pine Subcommittee. Jeff Easterling, John Rooks (NELMA’s Marketing Agency, The SOAP Group), and Kim Drew (NELMA’s PR Agency, Drew Public Relations) provided updates on the Association’s marketing projects and activities. Highlights of newly-completed projects included the mobile-version of nelma.org for smartphones, the revised print advertisement “See the Stamp, Trust the Quality”, recent issues of the White Pine Monographs and accompanying trailer videos, the revised websites nelma.org and easternwhitepine.org, and the second in a series of “EWP vs.” animated videos, this one comparing Eastern White Pine to PVC Trim.
John Rooks introduced NELMA’s new online marketing promotion, “The Virtual Home Tour”, which showcases homes that have used a variety of Eastern White Pine and SPFs products in their construction. The Tour allows a viewer to navigate a room 360 degrees and includes “pop-ups” that describe the actual pattern, grade, and finish used in each wall, ceiling, or floor application. John also introduced NELMA’s Grader Academy, a comprehensive grader training program and grader game that has been in development for more than a year. Each aspect of the Academy, from the first educational module “Characteristics 101” to the courseware quizzes, to the playing of the Above Board grader game was covered in the presentation. A special introductory competition for all Convention attendees was announced, with participation available at gaming kiosks hosted by NELMA’s Director of Inspection Services, Matt Pomeroy, and NELMA’s Lumber Inspection Program Coordinator, Don Pendergast.
Kim Drew provided information on PR activities completed or underway on behalf of the Association which included editor contacts with major industry-related media such as This Old House and the Boston Society of Architects. Kim introduced the latest online PR promotion “Wood Geeks”, an ongoing intriguing, question-answering series by important editors and celebrities that may be viewed on the easternwhitepine.org website.
The first day of the Convention ended with the opening of NELMA’s Product and Display Exhibits with 14 forest industry related exhibits available for review by attendees just before and during the evening’s Welcome Reception.
Day Two included meetings of the NELMA Dimension Subcommittee and the Grading Committee. In between these important Association business gatherings, the Sustainable Versatility Design Award Program was held. The naming of the award for this 3rd year annual competition to The Rich Quitadamo Sustainable Versatility Award was introduced by Jim Robbins of Robbins Lumber, a close business and personal friend of the late Rich Quitadamo. This year’s special guest speaker for the program, Jesse Thompson of the award-winning firm Kaplan Thompson Architect, provided insight into competing products with his presentation “Plastic Wood, Maintenance-Free, and the Search for True Sustainability”. Via Skype, Jesse presented the First Place award for this year’s student design competition to Jun Guo, a student at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Ms. Guo described her winning project, “Shelter House in Chicago’s Grant Park” and outlined the importance of using wood products within the structure.
Following the Design Award presentation and in keeping with the Convention’s overall theme of using today’s technology, a Social Media 101 seminar was conducted. Guest speaker and leading social media expert Rich Brooks of Flyte new media titled his talk, “How Social Media Can Generate Leads and Move More Lumber”. Rich covered the gamut of social media that included Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogging, and YouTube.
The final guest presentations of the Convention were given during the NELMA Board of Directors Meeting. This included Paul Jannke’s Economic Forecast titled, “Are We Out of the Woods Yet: What Are The Main Issues Facing Our Industry and Economy in 2014 and Beyond?”, and an update and important timeline provided by Zoltan van Heyningen, Executive Director of the U.S. Lumber Coalition, regarding the Softwood Lumber Agreement and its fast-approaching 2015 expiration.
A selection of entertainment options was available to attendees during the Convention. The Industry Luncheon featured Humorist, Jeanne Robertson, who utilized her positively funny style to illustrate that a sense of humor is much more than a laughing matter. Also, a theatre trip via trolley to the Boston Opera House to see the award-winning play, “The Book of Mormon” capped off the 81st Annual NELMA Convention.
Full presentations by guest speakers at the Convention will be available for viewing and printing on the NELMA website, www.nelma.org. Just login to the “Member’s Area” for access.
Watch for details later this spring regarding the 2014 Fall NELMA Board of Directors Meeting and Golf Outing, set for September 18 & 19 at the Red Jacket Mountain View Resort located in North Conway, New Hampshire.