SLAin’t Happening?

We’re told today that a settlement remains elusive but Canada and the U.S. have edged closer to a job-saving settlement on the softwood lumber dispute. According to a joint statement from President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, although “significant differences remain”, officials will “maintain an intensive pace of engagement”.

Call me skeptical, but did we mention seasons of elections are not a time to negotiate trade agreements? With 109 days until the end of the duty-free-for-all standstill period, it’s perhaps timely to revisit the projections outlined May 16th in an industry update from CIBC Institutional Equity Research:

“At some point (maybe late June/July), negotiations will simply cease due to the upcoming U.S. elections. Such a freeze is unlikely to be lifted until a new U.S. president takes office and even then, potentially only after a new U.S. trade representative is confirmed by Congress (maybe March/April 2017). With the window for reaching a deal closing, we expect the U.S. industry will petition for a trade case in five months when the standstill on litigation ends on October 12, 2016, after which Canadian producers could then get hit with 25%-30% preliminary duties as early as February/March 2017. Based on our latest discussions with industry sources, we believe it is highly unlikely that AD/CV duties would be retroactive to October 2016. While a 90-day retroactive period (from the preliminary determination) is possible if the Department of Commerce were to find “critical circumstances” (such as a surge in imports), we understand this measure has never been applied previously to Canadian lumber, and has largely only been used on China.”

Dads’ Day Afterglow..

In the scheme of recent events, Father’s Day did not make headline news. Even so, a weekend item in USA Today about a Dad posting pics of him ‘babysitting’ his daughter’s doll caught our eye. Hilarious!

At the same time, a New York Times weekend Editorial Observer considers a certain sadness that comes with the sudden realization Dad’s toddler daughter has outgrown the need for help falling asleep at bedtime.

For this woodtrader Dad, absorbing a week’s worth of Mexican water splashings of two swimmingly active young daughters on San Jose del Cabo sun-drenched beaches spelled memorable time and special joy that even heady lumber markets rarely offer.

With my Dad, Lauren, Evie (12 June 2016)

With my Dad, Lauren, Evie (12 June 2016)

Tall Wood

Construction of the 18-storey student residence at UBC is now underway. One of the tallest wood buildings in the world, Brock Commons will house 404 students in 272 studios and 33 four-bedroom units, and feature study and social gathering spaces.

Earlier today I spoke with Oscar Faoro of the Canadian Tall Wood Structures Initiative, who confirmed the wood elements for this mass timber superstructure are just beginning to arrive. I look forward to learning more from Oscar when I visit the Education and Outreach Centre near the site. The centre was established by UBC to facilitate research and education opportunities during construction. We’re told here the centre will host group presentations and display information on the project, and will also be used for research purposes by UBC graduate students.

The image below was downloaded from the Brock Commons webcam at UBC at 1:00pm this afternoon. Thanks also to Oscar for sharing these cool links to webcams at the Hines Minneapolis T3 Project and the Arbora/Nordic Montreal Project.
At 7 storeys, it’s reported the T3 Minneapolis Office Building is the first modern tall wood building to be built in the United States. In Montreal, the 8-storey wood building will be the largest complex in the world built from mass timber. Oscar reports the tall wood projects in New York and Portland are presently in design development.

“This beautiful, new tall wood building will serve as a living laboratory for the UBC community,” said Martha Piper, interim president. “It will advance the university’s reputation as a hub of sustainable and innovative design, and provide our students with much-needed on-campus housing.”

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Selling Wood

Some might suggest that the emotional appeal of 2×4 is generally thought to be somewhat limited, unless you’re a lumber trader, who has been known to fall in love with a truckload order from time to time.

But developing ads for the consumer market of industrial products no doubt poses creative challenges. Dimension lumber or plywood doesn’t lend itself readily to poetry. Beyond rhymes of “Plywood, plywood on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” there’s not a lot of published lumber-related light verse. Although when the U.S. celebrated Arbor Day in April there were many derivations of Joyce Kilmer’s famous “Trees” poem that came to light in lines such as: “I think that I shall never see a billboard lovely as a tree.”  It does seem though that once the tree has been through the mill, questions about rendering the finished wood product fit for a TV ad is something quite different.

So it was especially fun to see a new ad campaign for wood products profiled in today’s Ad of the Day at Adweek. The set of four “deadpan gags”, for California-based Humboldt Redwood, stars a talking redwood puppet named Timothy McTimber. His ventriloquist is a builder. Together, they admire the various redwood features of a home – a wall, a deck, a post and a beam. “It only makes sense that the spokesperson for a redwood company would be a talking plank, and boring in the best way possible,” writes Gabriel Beltrone in his five-star review at Adweek. “The voice actor, comedian Ross Brockley, gets outsize credit for his on-point delivery.” These 30-second commercials are hilarious!