Tall Order

When BC’s BigTree Registry came into the possession of the University of British Columbia in 2010, “it was a mess of paper records” reports The Vancouver Sun. Confirms Sally Aitken, professor of forests and conservation sciences at UBC: “It consisted of several bankers’ boxes of paper records, maps of various sorts and qualities, some photos and then there was just a single list of trees. It was not something that people could really access information from easily.” Access for all is now just a click away at the impressively concise UBC Faculty of Forestry BC BigTree Website which includes a link to the Registry.

Perusing the Registry, it seems safe to presume the giant tree we encountered last month on a visit to Vancouver Island is identified as tree #102. The biggest Coastal Douglas Fir in Cathedral Grove, the registry verifies measurements for tree #102 as: height 70.1 metres, circumference 10.11 m, crown spread 20.7 m. With a “score” of 645, the tree is presently ranked number 8 in the province, species Pseudotsuga menziesii. It was particularly interesting to discover that two Douglas Fir trees located here in North Vancouver are even bigger. With scores of 675 and 673, they presently hold the number four and five rankings on the list of champions.

Updated 10-17:
An email response to this post from BC BigTree Registry confirms tree #102 is not the giant pictured below. In fact the tree below has yet to be nominated: “The receipt of your photo prompted some interesting discussion and it was discovered that tree #102, last measured in 1990, was greatly reduced in size during the big wind storm in 1997.. it is now only 100 feet tall and no longer the largest tree in the grove.. the Registry will be updated to include this new information for tree #102.”

“This you inherit; guard it well, for it is far more precious than money, and once destroyed, nature’s beauty cannot be repurchased at any price.”
– Quote from Ansel Adams
as posted at UBC Faculty of Forestry BC Big Tree Website

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BC Big Tree Registry ID #102, Cathedral Grove #1 ??

Forest Industry Stereotype?

Some may contend that the latest YouTube portrayal unveiled by Canfor to dispel what they claim to be stereotypical view of forest industry people misses the mark. Feedback we’re hearing with respect to the message is a perceived focus that “there’s a common stereotype that people in the forest industry are just lumberjacks with big beards and flannel shirts” is barking up the wrong tree. It’s suggested the glossy presentation’s emphasis on outdated stereotypical characterization does little to dispel the so-called stereotype.
What do you make of Jacked About Lumber?

Visit to UBC

The Industry Insights panel sessions are described at UBC’s Sauder School of Business website as “a chance to provide students with insight into the variety of roles, opportunities, and areas for growth within your sector.”

Forest products marketing, sales and distribution was the focus of Friday’s session. I joined presenters Marc Saracco, Executive Director of the North American Wholesale Lumber Association (NAWLA), Ian McLean, Marketing Coordinator at Spruceland Millworks, Gerry Pankratz, President of Olympic Industries, Chris Gatson, Senior Scientist at FP Innovations, and Tracey Arnish, Senior VP of People and Culture at Canfor. BCom students with wide-ranging career aspirations ranging from organizational behavior and human resources to accounting and finance attended.

It’s evident that a sensitivity to resource sustainability – stewardship of the forest – factor heavily into general interests and potential forest industry careers. I especially enjoyed a brief time of networking with students after the presentations. Many had insightful questions about a career in lumber trading. I was able to share a little bit about my own experience with trading floor pressures, while being reminded that university classrooms still hold plenty of pressures of their own.

~2014 NAWLA Traders Market~

As the Organizing Committee Chair for next year’s NAWLA Regional Meeting in Vancouver April 2nd, I had the pleasure of meeting Executive Director of NAWLA Marc Saracco for dinner Thursday evening. Ian McLean, Organizing Committee Chair of the NAWLA Leadership Summit, also attended. Marc confirmed the show floor for the upcoming NAWLA Traders Market November 12-14 in Chicago is sold out – 235 exhibitors are registered. A Traders Market attendee list is available here.

Panelists 10-10-14

Chris Gatson, Ian McLean, Paul Harder, Marc Saracco, Tracey Arnish, Gerry Pankratz

Industry Insights

A Tale of Two Headlines

While China is on pace to import record volumes of logs and lumber this year, it’s no secret that demand offshore has moderated in recent months. Last November, David Elstone, forest industry analyst at ERA Forest Products Research, stated that “If the Chinese were to stop buying today, the North American market would be in massive disarray.” CIBC Analyst Mark Kennedy meanwhile considers new housing activity in the U.S. to be “the key variable” today in gauging future demand for lumber. “The biggest demand variable continues to be US housing starts,” confirms Mark.

We now turn to the clashing housing headlines below. Is it any wonder why both procurement and risk teeter in the minds of anyone buying wood products today?

Homebuilders Offer Freebies as Booming U.S. Markets Cool
Bloomberg (7 Oct 14)

  • In January, the federal government, which is reducing its share of the mortgage market to lure back private capital, cut Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan sizes in 652 high-cost U.S. counties.
  • Buyers, suffering from sticker shock after large price gains in 2013, are pulling back..
  • Builders are competing with a growing supply of previously owned homes as investors withdraw from the market. Orlando’s inventory of listings jumped 81 percent in August from a year earlier. In Phoenix, the supply increased 26 percent. The median price for an existing home in Phoenix is $189,900, a discount of more than $100,000 compared with a new home.

Goldman: The Housing Recovery Resumes
Calculated Risk (7 Oct 14)

  • Real residential investment grew at an 8.8% rate in Q2 and is tracking at nearly 15% in Q3.
  • We continue to see substantial upside for the housing sector in the long run. This view is driven by the large gap between the current annual run rate of housing starts, which have averaged about 1 million over the last three months, and our housing analysts’ projection of a long-run equilibrium demand for new homes of about 1.5-1.6 million per year, estimated as the sum of trend household formation and demolition of existing homes.
  • Two factors are essential for the outlook: housing affordability and mortgage credit availability.

“One of the things they do not talk about, particularly the publicly traded companies, is a shortage of skilled labor. Now here, where we have a hot real estate market, you literally see armed guards posted around construction projects to keep people from poaching the labor force. It is astonishing. But there is a shortage of skilled labor. Mexicans build homes in America. I don’t care if it is Bangor, Maine, or Portland, Oregon, or Dallas, Texas.That is immigration policy. I defy you to find a homebuilder that says mortgage rates are really the issue.”
– Richard Fisher, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas (Sept. 2014)

The demise of Canadian hardwood flooring?

Last year’s undercover investigation Liquidating the Forests has fresh legs here in Canada. Saturday’s Global News 16×9 episode here is worth watching. There are several angles to the story. As we learned last year, it shows how illegal logging in Russia is making its way to China, where it’s manufactured into hardwood flooring with toxic chemicals before being sold in the United States and Canada. The issue explored further here is the fact Canadian logs are also being shipped to China for processing into flooring, then shipped back and sold in Canada. As a result, more domestic manufacturers have reportedly stopped making Canadian hardwood flooring and instead are simply re-branding foreign products to give the appearance of the product being made here. We’re told that In 2000, Chinese hardwood flooring exports to Canada amounted to $3 million. In 2013, Chinese flooring exports to Canada totalled $84 million, a 2700 per cent increase. “China is now neck and neck with the U.S. in hardwood flooring export into Canada, followed by Brazil, Malaysia and Indonesia.”

“With Chinese manufacturers now producing so much of North America’s flooring, doing the right thing could mean losing out on saving money.”
– Global News 16×9 – 4 Oct 2014

Sales Types

Just when you thought all lumber traders were alike, a study involving 800 sales professionals has revealed there are eight different types. The Harvard Business Review (HBR) confirms the “best” three types of salespeople are Experts, Closers, and Consultants. The “rest” are Aggressors, Focusers, Narrators, Socializers, and Storytellers. A description for each type is available here.

HBR reports only the Experts, Closers, and Consultants – accounting for a mere 37% of salespeople – were found to be “consistently effective”. Moreover, the behaviours of the remaining 63% actually “drove down performance”. The good news? “The eight types represent behavioural tendencies; not set-in-stone personalities,” according to HBR. “Managers can effect changes in their current salespeople and recruit better salespeople in the future if they understand the eight types.”

cold-calling