By Hugues Simon
President, BarretteWood Inc.
The Softwood Lumber Board (SLB) helps the softwood lumber industry identify, create, and capitalize on new and existing opportunities to generate demand and sell more of our products. The SLB tracks and analyzes market dynamics across segments to identify emerging market opportunities and determine where to target investments to deliver the greatest return for the broadest swath of the industry.
The SLB’s market research has consistently pointed to the five- and six-story market as one primed for growth in both residential and nonresidential buildings. Market research also points to important growth opportunities in the one-to-four-story and seven-to-eight-story nonresidential segment.
The SLB invests in a suite of successful, complementary programs to convert these emerging markets into increased demand, sales, and revenue. When codes are not already in place, the SLB teams with the American Wood Council (AWC) to influence and modernize building standards and codes to include wood. Since 2012, AWC has advanced scores of pro-wood codes changes and led the charge to alter and defeat proposals that threatened the market for softwood lumber. Most recently, AWC research and advocacy led the ICC Tall Wood Building Committee to recommend 18-story mass timber buildings as the maximum allowable for select occupancies in the 2021 ICC Standards Development process. By changing mindsets about the use of wood in tall buildings, AWC will create a trickledown effect of greater acceptance in the five/six- and seven/eight-story segments, where volume opportunity is greatest.
However, the SLB knows that it is not enough just to change code; changes must be adopted and the marketplace must convert to wood. This is where the SLB’s investments into Think Wood and WoodWorks come into play. When code already permits wood’s use, for example in the one- to four-story nonresidential market, Think Wood’s strategic communications to promote wood’s value proposition and WoodWorks’ project assistance to convert a robust pipeline of projects to wood are the difference makers in prompting architects, designers, engineers, and developers to specify wood over competing materials. Both programs currently operate on tremendous upward swings of greater reach and conversions, signaling that momentum is in our favor to achieve the 25% market share in nonresidential one- to four-story construction.
The tandem effect of the SLB’s programs makes it a powerful, effective force for the industry. With the SLB working on our behalves, momentum is now in our favor to be able to rapidly capitalize on new market opportunities that are vital to the future of our industry.