In May the USDA announced that manufacturers and importers of softwood lumber had voted overwhelmingly to endorse the Softwood Lumber Board (SLB) for another term. The vote saw 78% of companies, which represent 94% of the volume, cast their ballots in favor of the SLB. This level of support shows just how effective the SLB has been in increasing awareness of, and demand for, softwood lumber.
The support for the SLB is not surprising as it has been instrumental in establishing ties with professionals in the industry though its communications networks Think Wood and Wood, Naturally. Its code and standards expansion through the American Wood Council have bolstered softwood lumber usage while its outreach through the WoodWorks program has helped to educate and support architects, engineers and construction specifiers.
In it’s first six years, the efforts of the SLB to share the softwood lumber story and grow the market for softwood lumber have resulted in an increase of 3.66 billion board feet of new demand, which represents $1.33 billion in incremental revenue. Every dollar invested in SLB initiatives has seen a $19.74 return. This success has been achieved with an effective marketing funnel made up of key programs:
Expand the Opportunities: The American Wood Council (AWC) works with codes and standards to expand the possibilities for wood whether in taller buildings or more applications.
Expand Awareness: ThinkWood and Wood, Naturally create awareness with AEC professionals of all the possible uses for wood in construction. They encourage developers, architects, engineers and contractors to use wood for their projects.
Get it Done: WoodWorks job is to engage with AEC professionals through seminars workshops and one-on-one design assistance for the purpose of influencing construction decisions in favor of wood products. Woodworks addresses issues like safety, durability, sustainability and cost. WoodWorks both educates and trains specifiers on a one-to-one basis about what is allowed in building codes, along with solving technical concerns and assisting in the development of cost-effective solutions. It provides these services from design through to construction and ensures that the experience of using wood is positive.
Building Material of Choice
With strong backing from the industry, the SLB aims to not only continue its current programs, but to develop and expand its focus. One of the SLB’s goals is to ensure that softwood lumber becomes the preferred building material of chice by 2024. “We will move from re-think wood when we started, to think wood today, to of course wood in 5 years”, said SLB Chairman Marc Brinkmeyer. To achieve this ambitious goal, the SLB will review and refine its strategy, tactics and funded initiatives to ensure all are optimized and aligned given the changing dynamics in the market. The conditions in 2018 are very different and more advantageous for lumber than they were when the SLB was established in 2011, as such the approach to delivering on its objectives will also need to evolve.
Summing up the impact of the SLB, Chief Executive Officer of Sierra-Pacific Industries, George Emmerson, said: “The industry has realized that we all have common competitors in the form of other building materials. The SLB has unified the industry’s efforts to compete in the marketplace — something that none of us can do acting individually.”