CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Makers of wood and wood products need to make those products more valuable to their customers.

That was the view of Gene Wengert, the Wood Dr., who spoke on the final day of Wood Pro Expo in Charlotte, Feb. 16.

Wengert discussed the future of wood markets, and what manufacturers of wood products could do about imports, shortages and prices.

Lumber prices and demand are being driven by a number of factors, including the need for larger numbers of railroad ties for the trains hauling oil. Wengert said that railroad tie demand would lead to shortages or higher prices of No. 2 and No. 3 Common lumber.

There is no shortage of wood in North America, but there is a shortage of people to harvest the trees and to drive the trucks that deliver the wood. China is moving containers into U.S. woodlands and buying logs directly. Wengert estimated that 60 percent of U.S. sawmills have closed in recent years.

The Ikea purchase of a large tract of Alabama woodland is seen as a major story by Wengert, and he believes more wood product manufacturers will become more involved in their wood supplies.

He believes the U.S. needs to continue to improve yield and efficiency, and use advanced marketing that emphasizes ecological and pollution benefits of domestic wood products.

The Cabinets & Closets Conference & Expo and Wood Pro Expo will both return to Charlotte March 6-8, 2019, co-locating at the Charlotte Convention Center.