The email came from Fred (name changed to protect individual privacy). He was interested in a career trading lumber. “What is the path to do so?” he asked.
No doubt there are many avenues. With no work experience in a sawmill, I sought to learn the ‘language of lumber’ by taking courses offered at the time by the Council of Forest Industries (COFI), including “Lumber Tallying” and “How Lumber is Sold in North America”. A more intensive two-year diploma followed at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) in “Wood Products Manufacturing” which included a COFI “A Ticket” in Coast Species Lumber Grading. There are a number of lumber wholesalers working on local trading floors today who graduated from that excellent program.
Wood, the sustainable building material, is trending. There’s appreciable interest from marketing students across the Lower Mainland. Our Planning Committee for the North American Wholesale Lumber Association (NAWLA) Regional Meeting in Vancouver has strengthened student ties of late, under committee member Ian McLean’s initiative, with the Sauder School of Business (Faculty of Commerce, UBC). Ian presented at the 2013 forum at Sauder. Industry is also well-connected to BCIT. Both NAWLA and the BC Wholesale Lumber Association (BCWLA) have reached out to BCIT’s Industry Insights Forestry Management Program (Professional Sales Diploma Option). A small group of students from both UBC and BCIT are comped tickets to the NAWLA Regional Meeting in Vancouver each spring.
Beyond that, sales courses tell us that the studying variables such as product knowledge, dynamics that shape markets, and key element of building trust in customer/supplier relationships are integral to the lumber trading experience, and chances for success. Oh, and don’t forget the sweat and tears!