Earlier this month, Lauren Chimko, lumber trader at Dakeryn Industries, completed the NAWLA Spring Wood Basics Course at Mississippi State University (MSU), in Starkville, Mississippi. In the following guest post, Lauren shares a little bit about her trip and the four-day immersion course which included both classroom training and instructive tours of a number of field operations:
Starkville, Mississippi – home to the MSU Bulldogs.. and not a heck of a lot more. The week of Feb 29th though, I joined over 30 newcomers to the wood products industry who flocked to Starkville to learn about – you guessed it – wood! The curriculum covered a variety of topics surrounding the life of a piece of lumber; from a wee little seedling in a forest to a structural component in a home. Key subjects: forest operations, sawmill production, transportation, and sales/negotiations. As one of those people who loves to learn, I was excited to be back in the classroom. Lectures started at 8am, and frequently included presentations from a number of expert guest speakers. Field trips were a highlight, not to mention the opportunities for networking.
Dr. David Jones (MSU) talked everything forest, while Chris Knowles (Oregon State University) discussed the ins and outs of lumber manufacturing and global markets. Rubin Shmulsky (MSU) popped in to review engineered wood products, and took us to the lab to observe some tests. On day two, the class visited Alabama to tour two sawmills – an eye-opening first for many. On day three, resident Transportation & Logistics expert Phil Lower visited. Lectures concluded on the fourth and final day with Scott Olsen (The Olsen Group) on negotiation. Scott – I still want that book!
Our diverse group arrived with backgrounds in sales, purchasing, law, engineering, logistics, and more. We had interns, employees with 20+ years in the wood products industry – and everyone inbetween.
With attendees from all corners of North America, our class had experience with all kinds of different wood species/products. The majority of the group was represented by the Southern States. There were three Canadians in our class, and I was pleased to see a decent representation of women (about 25%).
In a nutshell, Wood Basics is exactly that. A group of people coming together to develop a basic understanding of the products they deal with on a daily basis. If you want to take it up a notch, NAWLA also offers Wood Masters 2016 in Las Vegas (worlds away from Starkville, MS). Thank you to MSU for hosting us, the team at NAWLA (especially Jim, Chris, Erin and Matt), and all the presenters. Thanks also to all of the attendees, for a great week in Starkville.
Lauren will be attending the Montreal Wood Convention (March 21-23) and the COFI Convention in Kelowna (April 6-8).
View Lauren Chimko’s profile