Coeur d’Alene, ID — Eighteen Asian softwood lumber buyers have signed on to attend the sixth Small Log Conference in Coeur d’Alene March 13-15. The presence of 15 Chinese and 3 South Korean lumber importers, most with annual sales of $20 to $75 million, offers a rare opportunity for softwood lumber producers to connect with overseas markets without traveling abroad.
“This is an extremely unique and cost-effective opportunity for a company to build relationships with very successful Asian companies that are actively looking for new wood species and wood sources in the U.S.,” said Craig Rawlings, head of Forest Business Network, the conference organizer.
Looking specifically for softwood species such as ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, western cedar and larch, the buyers hope to discover new products and producers from the Inland Northwest, according to Rawlings. He cites wood exports and the international networking as a real first for the biennial conference, which began in 2004.
Traditionally the conference has served as a forum to discuss utilization of the overabundant small logs found in U.S. and Canadian forests. In previous years, attendees have learned more about specialized equipment for harvesting, milling and utilizing small logs; new policies on woody biomass energy; entrepreneurial and economic development; world trends and emerging markets; and evaluation of supply and demand.
Building on the wood export content at this year’s conference, exhibitors will include representatives from Vanport International, one of the top U.S. wood exporters, along with members of the Softwood Export Council, facilitators of softwood trade and sales missions. Also attending is Arnie Sherman, Executive Director of the Montana World Trade Center and President of Global Development Services. Sherman will lead the delegation of Asian lumber buyers. Xu Fang, an expert in Chinese and North American softwood lumber markets, will be available for consultation, and also will serve as translator for the buyers.
Ed Mayer, General Manager of HewSaw Machines Inc. in Canada, has strongly backed the conference as key to his business, noting, “Where else do you get the necessary mix of diverse fields of expertise all discussing real-life issues in one forum? Sharing concerns and opportunities from all perspectives will be the key to progress going forward in an industry that affects most North Americans either in their work or personal environment.”
The 2013 Small Log Conference will offer a pre-conference tour to Vaagen Brothers Lumber in Colville, Washington, and Columbia Cedar in Kettle Falls. All other conference activities will be based at the Coeur d’Alene Resort in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
Sponsors include: HewSaw, U.S. Forest Products Lab, Montana World Trade Center, Rawlings Industrial, Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance, Rawlings Manufacturing, Comact, The Conservation Fund, Montana Energy Promotion and Development Division, USNR, and Western States Cat. Montana State University Extension Forestry serves as a financial supporter.
For more information on the Small Log Conference, visit the conference website, or phone Tom Waddell at Forest Business Network at (406) 546-5977.