The U.S. hardwood industry is facing significant change driven by a variety of factors, including stiff competition from wood look-alike products, relentless misleading campaigns about the sustainability of wood products, a slowing world economy, and the ongoing U.S. trade war with China.  Markets are shrinking and businesses face an uncertain future.


And while the industry has a powerful story to tell…the beauty and desirability of the products, the history of the industry, the small family business focus, the sustainability of our raw material, and the environmental and health benefits of using hardwood; it has not yet been successful in developing a coordinated and collaborative domestic initiative to effectively tell this story and communicate the science-based benefits of real American hardwood products.  This has allowed competitors and adversaries to frame public opinion and gain the advantage.


Thus, in early 2019, a small group of hardwood association executives, energized by the success of their joint effort on the Hardwood Economic Impact Study, came together to brainstorm ideas and approaches for a voluntary industry-wide promotion initiative. Of top priority – transparency – moving forward in a way that engages all members of the hardwood community. Receiving input and recognizing the differences of the many industry segments is essential to develop a clear, concise and overarching brand statement that can be echoed throughout the supply chain.


This brainstorming session led to the following framework of goals and objectives:

*Establish a unified hardwood promotion program directed at domestic consumers, specifiers, educators, influencers and end-users with a launch date of spring 2020.

*Bring other association executives to the table and build on the enthusiasm that has been generated thus far.

*Continue to identify steps and deliverables vital in developing a coordinated and collaborative initiative to promote the true story and science-based benefits of real American hardwood.  A successful program will:

*Educate consumers and raise public awareness to the benefits of real American hardwood;

*Generate new products;

*Increase markets and sales;

*Improve industry stability.


Following the development of these general guidelines, an invitation was extended to 30+ executives of hardwood industry organizations and associations – local, state, regional and national, no matter the size – to further the conversation, establish consensus, develop an action plan and move forward with implementation.


The focus at present is to capitalize on the expertise and skillfulness of the many hardwood association executives who manage diverse priorities and expectations on a daily basis.  Going forward, and once a solid foundation is established, the effort will be expanded to welcome individuals and hardwood businesses.