The Softwood Lumber Board (SLB) met on May 8, 2012 in Chicago, IL, to complete start-up of the softwood lumber check-off, to review proposals for research and promotion programs and consider a new strategic approach to industry promotion. The softwood lumber check-off is a unified industry promotion program created by super-majority support in USDA’s industry referendum held last June.
Operations Start-up Completed — Assessment and Exemption Process Underway
The SLB approved its bylaws, operating policies, and heard committee reports including oversight of the first round of assessments. The SLB was gratified that a vast majority of production and imports have already submitted shipment reports and assessments. The SLB is also overseeing the issuance of Certificates of Exemption to nearly 700 manufacturers and importers who are under the 15 million board foot small company exemption.
Initial Round of Programs Approved
The SLB Program Committee reported that it had received seven proposals in response to its Call for Proposals. The SLB was briefed on all proposals with larger proposals presented by their proponents. After day-long deliberations, the SLB approved four programs for funding beginning July 1, 2012:
• The American Wood Council: for work on building standards to maintain and expand acceptance of appearance and structural softwood lumber in the marketplace.
• WoodWorks: to grow the market share for appearance and structural softwood lumber in light commercial and multifamily construction.
• The Southern Forest Products Association and the National Association of Home Builders: for a feasibility study on raised floor construction partnering with two high production homebuilders.
• The National Post Frame Building Association: to promote the acceptance and expand the use of softwood lumber in post frame construction.
The SLB also considered a program to provide a uniform prowood communications platform for the industry, a program to
improve marketplace statistics to aid in program development and evaluation, and a program to sell more lumber at the retail level by improving the merchandising of softwood lumber. Pilot projects are being considered supporting these areas as well.
Softwood Lumber Promotion: A New Approach.
The Program Committee also presented a white paper to the SLB which reported the Committee’s analysis of the limited response it received to the Call for Proposals, and the resulting decision to recommend a new approach for the promotion of appearance and structural softwood lumber products. With a few notable exceptions, existing industry organizations lack the strategic marketing skills, scale, and capacity to deliver initiatives that will significantly improve the market for lumber.
Centers of Excellence — The new approach involves the creation of a new, robust delivery model focused on achieving the stated goal of the organization: sell more appearance and structural softwood lumber products. The SLB agreed to focus its funding on four centers of excellence: 1) building standards;
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