By T. Furman Brodie
Charles Ingram Lumber Company
When the Softwood Lumber Board (SLB), was first proposed, I could not have imagined the impact the SLB would have in such a short time. We had watched our industry give up market share to our competitors for decades. Sales were stagnating and, the future appeared uncertain. The SLB changed that in just five short years. Their outstanding programs are growing demand and consumption of softwood lumber, modernizing standards to allow for more wood uses, and capitalizing on exciting and innovative areas such as mass timber buildings. The SLB efforts have put our industry on a strong growth trajectory.
More fundamentally, the SLB has helped industry members, including me, see what is possible when we work together in a unified way with one powerful voice to promote our products and create market opportunities. Before the creation of the check-off, we as an industry often undertook fragmented marketing efforts. Each region did its own thing. These efforts were not always targeted and were rarely sustainable. If investors did not see results quickly, they doubted the efforts and quit investing their dollars. Through the check-off, we were able to bring people together nationwide to play from the same sheet of music when it came to marketing. This made our message more targeted and more effective across our audiences. The SLB has been vital in sustaining this momentum and growing our marginal return on investment. Lumber producers are seeing results which makes our efforts more sustainable.
Our message to building professionals and consumers alike regarding softwood lumber’s unmatched benefits, did not go unnoticed by our competitors. For example, the industry is currently enjoying a very strong position in the decking market because the SLB and its Wood, Naturally campaign targets consumers and contractors with pro-wood messages as they consider material options. The SLB’s efforts have dented steel and concrete’s market share and prompted them to reconsider their own marketing strategies to counter our highly focused and successful efforts to tell wood’s story and tout its benefits.
Industry investors will soon decide whether to renew the check-off program for another five years. The SLB has been undeniably effective in growing demand and market share for softwood lumber products. The better the entire industry does, the better individual companies like mine do. I think the SLB is doing a wonderful job, and I want it to continue to operate effectively on behalf of all segments and all corners of our industry in the years ahead.