Joe Gonyea III is Partner and CEO of Timber Products Company, and he has 30 years of experience in the wood products industry. Timberline recently sat down with Gonyea to discuss his thoughts regarding the market.
Timberline: What changes do you expect to see in the forestry and wood products industry over the next few years?
Joe Gonyea III: The wood products industry has become a global industry, producing both challenges and opportunities for our company and others. With a strong US Dollar, less expensive products from companies overseas are working their way into the North American marketplace. I don’t think this situation will change in the next few years. On a positive note, I anticipate continued growth in global demand for all wood products. In light of current market conditions, domestic manufacturers need to sell customers and end-users on the values provided beyond prices, such as service, quality, environmental compliance and time to market, which also equals dollars.
TL: What are some of the biggest challenges the forestry and wood products industry will face in the coming years?
JGIII: I would say we have two big challenges. As I’ve mentioned, foreign trade is one. We support free trade that is fair trade. The other is wood supply. The lack of available timber for harvest from our federal lands has contributed to the increase in demand for wood products produced in foreign countries, where trees are not grown or harvested to the same sustainable forestry practices that are required in North America. Our forests, whether public or private, need to be managed in a balanced, sustainable manner. Today we are not even cutting 1/10th of our sustainable harvest from public lands. This is far from being balanced and is detrimental to forest health. It increases the risk for the type of catastrophic fires we’ve frequently witnessed in recent years.
TL: We’ve been hearing a lot about the dangers of added formaldehyde recently. What would you say is the most important factor for the public to understand about formaldehyde?
JGIII: Regarding formaldehyde use in resins, consumers need to know that all North American manufacturers – including Timber Products – are held to some of the most stringent manufacturing standards in existence today. Domestic products are completely safe. The concern with formaldehyde should be directed at imported products, specifically from China, that is not produced using North American CARB standards.
TL: Is there any legislation anticipated for 2016 that might have an impact on the wood products industry? If so, what?
JGIII: After the November election is over, we plan to lean on the Oregon congressional delegation for new ideas on how to open more public lands for timber harvest.
Increased harvesting on public lands would create more jobs and supply the market with wood products from North American companies who are committed to sustainable forest practices. Opening more public lands for sustainable harvest is a huge opportunity, especially in rural Oregon, California, and Michigan, where we have mills. A more balanced approach to harvesting on our public lands will also create a positive economic ripple effect across the country.
TL: On a broad level, how do you feel Timber Products needs to evolve, change and grow to meet the demands of new and existing partners?
JGIII: To meet the demands of new and existing partners we must always challenge ourselves to do things better and more efficiently - machine center by machine center. We continue to develop our team members through ongoing education and promotion opportunities and encourage innovative problem solving. If we continue to work as a team and find solutions to challenges under our control, Timber Products will see more success.
TL: SFI certified products now qualify for LEED certification. What are the positive implications of this?
JGIII: We hope our customers and consumers will buy more Timber Products wood! (Laughs). But seriously, we’re proud to be one of the first integrated manufacturers to achieve the SFI standard in our plants. With the ability to qualify for LEED certification, we believe we’ll be able to bring more high-quality certified wood to market. This is long overdue and we are excited about the opportunities SFI and FSC certified products create for builders seeking LEED certification.