CHICAGO - Approximately 800 wood industry professionals are participating at the National Hardwood Lumber Association's (NHLA) annual convention taking place through Saturday morning at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers.

Scott Heidler, president of Heidler Hardwood Lumber Co. of Chicago was elected president of the NHLA Board of Managers Executive Committee. He succeeds Dave Redmond, president and CEO of Highland Hardwood Sales Inc. of Augusta, GA. Heidler is the fourth generation of Heidler Lumber, a company that has been a member of the NHLA for more than a century.

Also elected to the executive committee was Pem Jenkins, presdent of Turn Bull Lumber Co. of Elizabethtown, NC. Turn Bull opened its doors in 1993 and offers a species mix of 30% yellow poplar, 25% cypress, 15% red oak, 10% white oak, 10% soft maple and 5% each ash and tupelo.

Mark Barford, executive director of the NHLA, reported that the association was making a more concerted effort to promote exports of American hardwood lumber to help member companies make up for recession-induced domestic lost business. He noted that NHLA has particularly done well in opening hardwood lumber market opportunities in China and said NHLA has added 37 Chinese companies as members.

Hall of Fame football legend Mike Ditka rounded out the first morning session in delivering a motivational keynote speech that drew on his 50-plus year career as an NFL player, coach and commentator. While his speech was enthusiastically received, he proved wrong in predicting a Chicago Bears victory over the Green Bay Packers. The Packers beat the Bears 23-10 Thursday night.

The event also features more than 60 exhibits displayed in NHLA's Trader's Alley. Exhibits include suppliers of hardwood lumber, dry kilns, lumber grading, wood scanners, lumber optimization systems and more.

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