I had the opportunity last month to spend a few days with some of our newer employees. These individuals are young, bright, energetic and new to the hardwood lumber industry. One of the conversations we had was rooted in what some of their initial impressions were of the hardwood lumber industry. Some of their comments surprised me but in general I was pleased that they perceived many of the great qualities that we normally do. In summary this is what they emphasized.
The Industry is Sustainable – Many times, people outside of the industry are not familiar with the fact that the North American hardwood forests are growing, abundant and self-generating. What is also surprising to most is there is twice as much new growth in the forest than what is being harvested for timber. Plus, since the industry uses selective timber harvesting techniques, which means only the mature, overcrowded, diseased, dying and poorly formed trees are cut for timber, the forests will continue to thrive for many years to come.
In addition, people are also very interested in the fact that every aspect of the log is used in some way. After a mill saws logs into the hardwood boards they desire even the hardwood by-products created such as lumber chips, the tree bark and sawdust are then many times used for energy or agricultural needs.
It is an International Business – The North American hardwood lumber business truly is an international business. There are manufacturers of furniture, cabinets, flooring and specialty items that use hardwood lumber in their products all around the world. As a matter of fact, American Lumber ships lumber to almost every major port in the world and has employees covering visiting customers all throughout Europe, Asia and Middle East. Some of the products they are looking for include walnut, white oak, red oak, tulipwood and cherry lumber.
Challenging & Complex Combinations– There can be a lot of product variations when it comes to hardwood lumber. When you combine the different growing regions, species, grades, thicknesses, sorts, sawing techniques and the like the products available in the industry can be quite complex! From 4/4 rift and quartered Prime white oak to 8/4 90/50 Cherry, it seems there could be hundreds of product variations one must be knowledgeable about to operate in in the industry. Then, if you add in some of the hardwood lumber supply chain variables such as the land owners, foresters, loggers, sawmills and logistic firms the hardwood lumber industry can become even more complex to a new comer!
The People are Great – Our newer employees commented on how much they enjoyed interacting with the great people they were meeting. They comment that they felt the people they were meeting in the hardwood lumber industry were honest, loyal, dedicated, intelligent, reputable, hardworking and down to earth. (We couldn’t agree more!)
Opportunity – Lastly, they described the industry as one with tremendous opportunity. They envision areas of growth that will be spawn from leveraging technological advancement, expanding markets, and improving efficiencies which excited them.
From our perspective it is good to know that for the right person, the hardwood lumber industry is still appealing.