Vanport Canada, a subsidiary of Vanport International, is an independent marketer of softwood lumber into Asia. The company was established in 1997 in Vancouver, B.C. by Don McGregor as a lumber exporter, representing many B.C. sawmills and selling primarily into Japan.

Over the years, Vanport Canada has developed a niche in providing customized, knowledgeable, and professional service to its myriad of customers. They have extended their operations beyond simple exports into a whole range of lumber-related activities and now use the expertise of their staff to manage numerous custom cut programs for their customers, mainly for the traditional home market in Japan. All Vanport Canada staff speak at least two languages, primarily English, Japanese, and Chinese.

This FSC certified exporter distributes Douglas Fir, Hemlock, and Sitka Spruce from British Columbia’s coastal regions to both domestic and international markets including Japan, China, and other Asian countries. They are currently seeing a growth in their exports to India, Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia.

The North Vancouver-based company also has extensive experience working with First Nations groups in North America. One of their projects included assisting a First Nations Group in setting up a sawmill, designing cut specifications optimized for target markets, and training the mill employees and management staff in operations.

Vanport Canada also regularly recruits forest industry trainees from Asia to educate and assist in company operations.

 

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What does a trade show on the skids, mathematical equations, and NHL players loving Kelowna have in common? Read below to find out.

I was in San Francisco last week for the Pacific Coast Builders Conference (PCBC). The city was abuzz, with restaurants, car rentals, and hotels at near capacity, so I was excited hoping that the show was turning the corner after being on life support the last five years. Well, like most things, my excitement soon turned as I realized all the buzz was for the Google app conference that was happening at the same time as PCBC. In fact, Google has taken over occupying three of the four massive building that make up the conference center. As late as 2005, PCBC filled these four buildings with the latest in construction and building products supplies, now PCBC is confined to ¾ of the south hall.

That being said, PCBC this year had all the excitement of a party in a kitchen because the small size of the place seemed much busier than it actually was. Show organizers listed some 5000+ attendees at this year’s event, which provided a good venue for networking between builders, architects, and suppliers from the Northern California market. It’s too early to tell what the change in location to San Diego will do to attendance next year, but suffice it to say, the show could not survive another year in San Francisco.

Last year, I did a quick survey of members to see how their “Bid-to-Close Ratio” and see how the downturn had effected their bottom line. As discussed, the ratio last year was skewed, with members bidding on a high number of projects, but closing with far less frequency than in the past. Most blamed the market conditions at the time, as buyers were checking prices with alternative suppliers, and manufacturers were said to be “giving jobs away” just to stay in business. This time, it seems that the bid-to-close ratio is beginning to return to normal, especially with higher value manufacturers in the millwork and engineered wood products sectors. One manufacturer that I spoke commented that while they are signing more contracts, delays on project start dates have impacted the ratio. The bid-to-close ratio is a benchmark for the overall health of the industry and having this ratio gradually return to historic averages is, I believe, reflective of an improving residential and light commercial construction sector.

Finally, on the celebrity front, it seems that we have a few members who like to rub elbows with the rich, famous, and powerful.   For example, Kelowna based BC Wood member, Norelco Cabinets, has developed a niche market building custom kitchens, high-end cabinetry, and millwork for NHL hockey players including Wade Redden, Jerome Iginla, and most recently that ginger-haired grinder from Philadelphia, Scott Hartnall. It turns out that Kelowna has become a hotbed for NHL players to live and train during the summer months and a fraternity of players have built homes on Okanagan Lake over the past few years.

Also hobnobbing with the rich and famous is Judson Beaumont of Straight Line Designs. His use of beetle kill pine in recent projects creating one of kind furniture and wall panelling attracted the attention of the Minister of Tourism and Trade, the Hon Pat Bell who stopped by his shop in Vancouver this past week to view some of Jud’s latest designs. It seems that Jud has become a favorite of Victoria’s political elite as he also was commissioned to build a beetle pebble wall a few years back for former premier Gordon Campbell.

 

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We are very excited to announce that BC Hydro has signed up to support the GBM as a sponsor, as well as HSBC taking a higher profile role as another one of our Corporate Sponsors. The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) has also recognized the value of the program for international market development and has significantly increased their contribution to support the GBM this year.

These changes recognize the value of the GBM program and the new business it brings to Canadian wood products manufacturers. We have also seen a dramatic increase from our exhibitors, in requesting we invite their targeted buyers from many different markets. Plus, we have just completed a strategic, targeted direct mail campaign to US buyers, which we believe, along with the efforts of the WRCLA, will bring us a substantial increase in American buyers, builders, developers and distributors.

If you have not yet signed up to participate, please call me at 604-882-7100 or toll free at 1-877-422-9663. There is still some booth space available and this is the best, most cost-effective opportunity for you to meet buyers from all over the world that might want to buy your wood.

A significant number of buyers from China, India and Pakistan have already signed up to meet our manufacturers. Will you be there?
 

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New for you? click the link to check out last year’s event:  http://youtu.be/B0fS5puvTQA  

We will be back at the beautiful Whistler Conference Centre and have negotiated unbeatable hotel rates for you in Whistler Village.

You will not want to miss this opportunity to showcase your products to over 250 pre-qualified international buyers and North American Architects, Designers & Engineers!

Proposed Program Schedule

Thursday – September 6th
Association Business & In-market Representatives Meetings
Evening Welcome Event at the spectacular Roundhouse Lodge at the Peak of Whistler Mountain for all participants

Friday – September 7th
Morning Networking/Tradeshow/Meetings
Afternoon WRCLA/EA Sponsored Golf Tournament; Architects in-booth presentations; or Whistler free time
Gala Evening Event at Westin Resort

Saturday – September 8th
Morning Networking/Tradeshow/Meetings

Exhibit space is limited and will be available on a first-come / first-served basis. If you haven’t already registered, contact us for your online registration link at  gbm@bcwood.com or call Randi at 604-882-7100.

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Thursday- Saturday, September 6-8th, 2012
Whistler Conference Centre, Whistler, BC

It’s the time of year when BC Wood ramps up the preparations for the up-coming GBM. What is different this year from the previous three or four is the early strong interest from US lumber wholesalers and building materials distributors. Maybe it is a result of some early advertising we did in US trade publications; the support from the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association in advising their members of the GBM has certainly had a positive impact; or maybe it is just the marked improvement that we have seen in the business climate and attitudes of the US buyers… all probably have combined to have a positive effect on the response we’ve received so far. Whatever the factors, this year we are looking forward to a strong GBM attendance from our friends and customers from south of the 49th.

If you have any questions about year’s GBM, please contact me, Brian Hawrysh, at 604-882-7100 or  bhawrysh@bcwood.com.

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New Online BC Wood Membership System!

On June 28th, 2012, posted in: BC Wood Members by Comments Off

All 2011/2012 BC Wood members received an email last week from me informing them of the new changes to our membership levels and added benefits, as well as a link to renew their membership through our online system. All of your information will be pre-populated so renewing your membership will only take a couple of minutes to do. Even if you plan on renewing by mailing us a cheque, please go into the system to confirm that all of your information is correct, as this is displayed on our Online Member Directory. If you did not receive this renewal email, please give me a call at 604-882-7100 and ask for Rumin, or email me at rmann@bcwood.com.

Watch your inbox for a link to your Master Account Page, where you can view your account history; access the Value to Members program details, including discount codes for a number of service providers; and register for trade shows. If you have any questions about the changes to your membership, please feel free to contact me.

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Above image: Marie Khouri

For the four-day duration of the Fair, May 19-22, 145,000 square feet of the Javits Center was abuzz with more than 26,000 interior designers, architects, retailers, designers, manufacturers, representatives, distributors, and developers. On Tuesday, May 21, the ICFF opened its doors to the general public, as well.

BC Wood’s talented contingent this year included: Mario Sabjlak, Brent Comber, Marie Khouri, vin de garde cellar systems, Diamond Stairs (new member), and John Ross Design. Judson Beaumont also put in a brief appearance as he happened to be doing an installation in New York during the show. He was kind enough to stay and help us with the teardown, too!

Everyone brought something new to the show this year and many have already been picked up and blogged through various media outlets. Check out Marie Khouri’s new La Chaise launched at ICFF and picked up by http://www.interiordesign.net/slideshow/2474-ICFF_Product_Highlights.php?photoId=392796&photoUrl=/photo/392/392796-Marie_Khouri_s_La_Chaise_made_out_of_plywood_.jpg

Diamond Stairs and vin de garde are on their way to LA to participate in Dwell Magazines showcase event at the end of the month, thanks to contacts made at the show in New York. Check out these great reviews: http://www.treehugger.com/interior-design/prefabricated-cantilevered-stairs-are-minimal.html and
http://www.yourhome.ca/homes/decor/article/1193291–everything-old-is-new-again

More than 500 exhibitors from all points of the globe displayed contemporary furniture, seating, carpet and flooring, lighting, outdoor furniture, materials, wall coverings, accessories, textiles, kitchen, and bath for residential and commercial interiors. This remarkable throng of exhibitors created an unparalleled opportunity to view a broad yet highly focused selection of the world’s finest, most innovative, and original avant-garde home and contract products side-by-side, all under one roof.

Buyers and reps came from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Canada, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Finland, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, United Kingdom, and U.S.

Along with BC Wood, making their yearly pilgrimage to the celebrated design hub were contingents from British European Design Group (BEDG) (our very good neighbours, incidentally), Ceramic Tiles of Italy, Furniture New York, The Furniture Society (U.S.), IDSA New York (Industrial Designers Society of America), Inside Norway, Interiors from Spain, JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization) and Portugal Brands.

Above image: Diamond Stars & Vin De Garde
Below image: Brent Comber

Above image: Brent Comber & John Ross
Below image: Mario Sabljak

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A few comments, suggestions, and ideas that may be of interest to industry…

I have been working with a number of architects, builders, and distributors in the San Francisco market over the last few years and thought it would be a good idea to bring the readers up to speed on some of the projects that these firms have been working on.

Webcor Builders

Webcor is an award-winning general contractor specializing in a wide variety of project types-from large scale light commercial construction, to multi-unit residential and high-end interior commercial finishings. Webcor has been in the construction business for over 40 years and boasts a list of clients, such as Oracle, eBay, Lucasfilm, Starwood, and the W hotel group. They have made a name for themselves in the San Francisco market and have expanded to take advantage of the significant growth in the Silicon Valley high tech market. In fact, they were involved in the recent expansion of high tech stalwarts, eBay and Google.

I have a good contact with the designers and purchasing agents in the company and have focused on working with the interior carpentry and interior construction divisions in the firm. Webcor has a number of upcoming projects that will require both interior and exterior wood components and finished products. I will keep you informed on the opportunities that come from this contact.

Beronio Lumber

 

Another key player in the building product sector in San Francisco and the Bay area is Beronio Lumber. This company is an industry legend in the Bay region as they celebrated their 100th year in business in 2011. They specialize in servicing the residential construction market and carry a wide range of interior and exterior building components and finishings. With a trip around their flagship store in the South Bay area, you soon notice a number of BC Wood members products profiled in their showroom.

Michael Cassasa is the main contact at Beronio and a recent discussion with him suggests that business is much better than it has been over the past few years and that whole bay area market that they service – from Marin County to Palo Alto – is showing significant growth. The fact that Beronio is busy is a good sign that the Northern California market is on a rebound after a number of years of limited growth.

A direct chance to connect with these and other companies that I work with will be available to members who attend the Global Buyer Mission this September in Whistler. Both firms listed above are expected to participate at the GBM and if you are interested in meeting with them please contact me at dfarley@bcwood.com or on my cell at 604-728-8786.

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By Daryl Holmes

Organized for the 35th time, TURKEYBUILD Istanbul is dubbed the biggest inter-regional building gathering that covers Turkey, Balkans, former CIS countries, North Africa, and Middle East. The exhibition was held from May 2nd to 6th, 2012 at the Tüyap Fair Centre and Congress Center, which is made up of 81,000 sq. metres and consisting of 12 exhibition halls. Attendance at this show was very high with total attendees recorded at 110,000 guests.

The following information summarizes the show and my market observations as they pertain to the value-added wood industry beginning with the core feedback that directly impacts you, the member.

BC Wood first attended Turkeybuild in the smaller market of Ankara in September, 2011 with the notion of returning for the signature event to be held in Istanbul. The valuable work undertaken in September set the stage for a very successful return to this market in early May. This show takes me back to the glory days of USA builder shows with the aisles full of qualified agents, buyers, architects, designers, developers, planners, and builders. In Turkey, industry continues to take firm steps forward. Turkey, which acts as an intercontinental bridge due to its geographical position, is an extremely important partner for BC manufacturers who wish to develop sales in this part of the world.

Where do the sales prospects lie?

At the show, four companies represented their products in the BC Wood booth space. We focused our display on products that we feel have the greatest competitive advantage in this area – Engineered Wood Products, Log Home and Timber Frame structures, PreBuilt Housing, and Remanufactured Products. Flooring and high-end furniture also received attention at this event.

During the show, we spoke to many qualified representatives of local companies who were interested in the distribution of products; these contacts were spread around Turkey and the surrounding countries. All member companies received wide spread interest in not only distribution of products, but also direct sales opportunities.

While most construction taking place in Turkey is with concrete and steel, the appetite for wood products was high. Timber and lumber comes into the country from neighbouring countries; however, the reputation of Canadian wood products as being high quality meant that we received many enquiries about project based developments and high-end building materials. So, in short, the increase in development taking place in this market indicates a growing demand for lumber and wood products overall. It was encouraging to speak to many project managers and resort developers who did not see Canada’s geographic proximity as a barrier to discussing business deals.

How do I access these opportunities?

Obtaining access to these opportunities is not easy and won’t happen overnight. The key, as always, is to get active in the market and to get connected to local industry partners. Securing strategic partnership agreements with local agents is of the utmost importance. Relying on your website and word-of-mouth will not get you access to this market. Also, once you have made contact in this area, the key is to commit to follow up, and the required amount of engagement needed to realise sales.

Either as an individual company or in partnership with BC Wood and other industry groups, you will have success showcasing your products and gaining profile in this competitive marketplace if you make the decision to invest some time in a market strategy that puts you and your products in the path of these key decision makers.

Does Turkeybuild Deliver?

This show is without a shadow of a doubt the premium show to attend in this market. This show draws attendees from all over the Middle East and the local Turkish market, as well as Russia, Ukraine, and other neighbouring markets. Follow the money – this notion is so prevalent in this marketplace and based upon our success at this show, members have already secured sales. The Europe market is mature and very competitive; however, niche areas of the world continue to show an increase in opportunity for BC’s value added industry. The Turkey marketplace falls into this category and it is my opinion that business to business sales opportunities will continue to grow in this area.

Upcoming events in the Europe market include Holzhaus, Moscow (Nov 9-13), and BAU, Germany (Jan 17-20, 2012). For more information contact Brian Hawrysh at bhawrysh@bcwood.com  or email me at dh@themataigroup.com

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BC Wood member Mandala Homes recently completed a pretty unique project. They just finished building BC’s first Energy Star qualified round house in Nelson, BC.

For 11 years, Mandala Homes has been designing and building pre-fabricated round and rectangular home packages in Nelson, BC and distributing all over the globe, with Canada and US being their main markets. Along with pre-fabricated home packages, they also sell decking, flooring, trim packages, pre-stained cedar siding, timber frame components and wood window & door packages.   Mandala Homes, with their triple-bottom line business model, makes every business decision by taking into account the financial, social, and environmental impact.

Lars Chose (above picture), owner of Mandala Homes designed and built the first Energy Star Qualified house in BC. The 2,300 square feet home includes three bedrooms, two and a half bath­rooms, a work­shop, two out­door rooms, and a stor­age room. The house is finished with West­ern Red Cedar sid­ing and trim and fir post and beams, while the inte­rior is fin­ished with West­ern Red Cedar ceil­ings, cork floor­ing, ceramic tile, fir trim, Yolo and Natura no-VOC paints, and no-VOC fin­ishes from EcoCrete and Ver­mont Natural.

This green pre­fab con­serves energy with deep over­hangs, LEDs and CFLs, an HRV, thick walls (R34), an insu­lated roof (R66), fiberglass-insulated dual-pane win­dows, sky­lights, solar tubes, an ICF foun­da­tion, and Energy Star appliances.

For more information on the specifications of this house, click here
For more articles on this house, click here

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Welcome to the 9th annual Global Buyers Mission™ (GBM) – a three-day, invitation only networking/tradeshow event developed to bring together pre-qualified international buyers of wood products from around the world, with Canadian manufacturers of products that include finished materials, building supplies, and remanufacturing products. We will be back at the beautiful Whistler Conference Centre and have negotiated great hotel rates for you in Whistler Village.

Our buyer recruiting will bring buyers, distributors, contractors, builders, architects, and developers, all pre-qualified by our Canada Wood in-market representatives and Canadian Embassies from around the world. We have also expanded our Specifiers program to include direct in-booth presentations on Friday afternoon for manufacturers interested in meeting this important audience.

You will not want to miss this opportunity to showcase your products to over 200 pre-qualified international wood products buyers and important specifiers.

Exhibit space is limited and will be available on a first-come/first-served basis. If you haven’t already registered, contact us at  gbm@bcwood.com for your on-line access code, or call Randi at 604-882-7100 (toll free 1-877-422-9663).

Proposed Program Schedule

Thursday – September 6th
Association Business Meetings and Wood First Forum
Evening Welcome Reception at the spectacular Roundhouse Lodge at the peak of Whistler Mountain for all participants

Friday – September 7th
Morning Networking/Tradeshow/Meetings
Afternoon WRCLA/EA Sponsored Golf Tournament; Specifiers in-booth presentations; or Whistler free time
Gala Evening Reception at the Westin Resort

Saturday – September 8th
Morning Networking/Tradeshow/Meetings

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Later this year in September, BC Wood will be coordinating a tandem of cost-shared trade shows for the Log and Timber Frame Home sector. Member companies are able to participate in the Log and Timber Home Show in Dallas, Texas on September 22-23rd and on the following weekend, Sept 28-29th, in Denver Colorado.

The Log & Timber Home Show – Dallas Texas – Sept 22-23, 2012
The Denver Log Home Show – Denver, Colorado – Sept 28-29, 2012

The first of the two shows scheduled for September is in Dallas. The Dallas region was identified by the industry advisory group for BC Wood’s Log and Timber Frame Home sector as a priority market for this year. The reason to focus our collective effort on Dallas was not because there were a lot of log and timber frame structures being built in Dallas, but, because there were a good number of people living in Dallas who had a desire to own a log or timber frame home and had the financial where-with-all to purchase one.

The attendees at previous Dallas shows had a very desirable demographic make-up with 85% of the attendees being couples 35+, higher education, higher income, and skewing to the outdoors. Further, 80% of the attendees plan to build their log or timber frame home within the next 3 years.

The majority of the homes built by Dallas residences were located in the surrounding states of Arkansas, New Mexico, and the Oklahoma panhandle. BC Wood will support its’ members in our first venture into what is expected to be a very lucrative market.

The second show where BC Wood will support its’ members participation is the show in Denver. Last year, six BC Wood members attended the Denver Log Home Show and expressed a strong desire to return this year. Over the years, many BC Wood members from the log and timber frame home sector have used the Denver show to establish a presence in this very strong market for recreational homes in the Rocky Mountain States region. As the economy in this region continues to build some momentum, I fully expect another strong level of participation from BC Wood’s members for the Dallas show.

Space is available for BC Wood members wanting to participate in these two up-coming shows. I would encourage any companies interested to contact me at BC Wood’s office at 604-882-7100 or at bhawrysh@bcwood.com.

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By Daryl Holmes

Over 1400 exhibitors were present at this year’s show, which continues to grow in size and attendance.  This show is a one-stop shop for anything and everything related to the sustainable construction and green building industry.  The timber zone was much larger than last year indicating that the profile of timber use in construction is becoming more and more prominent in this marketplace.  Many countries local to this market boasted large pavilions showcasing their products.  BC manufacturers were represented in collaboration with a combined Canadian Pavilion which featured companies from all across Canada.

The following information summarizes the show and my market observations as they pertain to the value added wood industry beginning with the core feedback that directly impacts you the member.

Where do the sales prospects lie?

The timber zone at the show was visited by a wide spectrum of key industry members including architects, designers, developers, planners, and builders.  Our display focused on showcasing Engineered Wood Products, Log Home and Timber Frame structures, PreBuilt Housing, and Remanufactured Products.  While these products were of primary interest to the attendees who visited us, I also received interest in high-end millwork and high-end furniture products.  Yes, distribution of some BC products is already mature and well established in the UK;  however, it was interesting to speak with a number of industry professionals who were interested in dealing direct with the manufacturer to develop project based relationships and partnerships.

Attendees from all across the UK, Ireland, and Europe were present at the show and in particular geographic areas like Eastern Europe, the Emirates, and Middle East were well represented. I spoke to a number of project managers and resort developers who were interested in making contact with Canadian companies to discuss upcoming construction plans.  On the local UK scene there remains an appetite for wood products and due to the focus of the show, there is no surprise that timber and timber products lead the pack as the first choice in construction. In this market, building industry professionals and consumers alike extol the virtues of Timber.  The viewpoint in the UK is:  Timber Products = Natural, Traditional, Sustainable, and Climate Friendly.

How do I access these opportunities?

Gaining access to these opportunities is not easy and by no means a short-term outcome.  The key to having your products and services gain profile in this competitive marketplace is to invest in a market strategy that puts you and your products in the path of these key decision makers and sales opportunities. Resources in today’s marketplace are scarce and it is difficult for local BC manufacturers to reach every offshore market. However, there are cost effective solutions that enable you to maximize your financial resources.  By participating in BC Wood programs, you will be able to gain first hand access and engagement in this marketplace.  For those of you not able to travel to the market, the most crucial component of your market access strategy is to secure local representation on the ground in this market. Whether you choose to hire a local representative or to partner with your peers, the engagement of a local industry professional is essential to getting your products exposure to the key people in Europe. Based upon the feedback and results from this show, I cannot emphasize enough how important this is. Relying on your website, word of mouth, and repeat sales alone will not enable you to expand your scope of sales opportunities in this large geographic market.

Does EcoBuild Deliver?

Attendance at trade shows is a much talked about subject amongst you and your peers. As an industry member for many years I have attended many shows of which some have been well worthwhile and others, well, let’s just say they have not lived up to the hype of the show organizers. To assist you in your efforts to make well informed decisions on how to plan your marketing strategy, I offer some feedback on this show.

The show’s reputation as a signature event on the trade exhibition calendar was evident as we hosted visitors at the booth from all over Europe.  London is a huge hub for development, design, and project planning.  Along with qualified contacts from all over the UK and Ireland, attendees from France, Germany, Norway, Estonia, Ukraine, Belgium, The Netherlands, Latvia, Austria, Finland, Spain, and Italy showed interest in products from BC’s value-added manufacturers.  As mentioned earlier, we spoke to professionals from UAE, Eastern Europe, and Middle East as well. We were busy at the show, the aisles were full and those whom we spoke to were predominantly qualified contacts.  My goal at each show is to access the gate keepers and decision makers. These individuals were at this show and were not just kicking tires.

A bonus of this show is the fact it is a 3 day event which allows you, the member, to conduct pre and post show meetings and site visits with prospective clients, and only be away from home for 7 days.  Would this be a show I would recommend?  Yes. With the right amount of planning, industry partnership, and pre-show engagement in this market, you would gain valuable business to business sales opportunities; enough for sure, to gain a return on your investment.

Upcoming events in the Europe market include TurkeyBuild (May 2-6), Holzhaus, Moscow (Nov 9-13), and BAU, Germany (Jan 17-20, 2012).  For more information, contact BC Wood or email me at dh@themataigroup.com

     

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A few ideas, comments, and suggestions that may be of interest…

This past weekend, BC Wood and member companies participated in the 2012 Anchorage Home Builders Show at the Sullivan center in Anchorage, Alaska. BC Wood returned to the show after a four year hiatus and the general consensus from members was that the event was positive. We met and spent time talking to numerous people active in the construction sector across the state, and through these discussions some interesting observations were made.

Alaska is a unique market, in part due to its geographic remoteness but also due to the independent spirit of the people who live there. Alaskans like to describe themselves as a hearty people, who believe strongly in being self-sufficient, and most importantly having government of all types stay out of their business. In speaking with a number of builders in the market, they often referred to Alaskans having a frontiersman or libertarian spirit.

The reason for discussing this is the potential effect it has on Canadian manufacturers and exporters selling into this market. With this spirit comes a strong ‘Buy American’ or even stronger ‘Buy Alaskan’ mindset from most consumers. The ironic part of this is nearly every building product in Alaska has to be imported into the market. So while Alaskans like to tout the economic benefits of buying locally, the truth is they, by necessity, are more than willing to buy from the lower 48 states and Canada as well. The key to selling into the Alaskan market is to align yourself with a good local partner, dealer, or distributor in the state so that any perceived issue around buying imported product can be nullified.

The show itself was well attended and good sales opportunities were developed for members in the prebuilt housing, interior products, and log home sectors. The attendees were a mix of consumers, builders, and general contractors who were keen to discuss upcoming projects in the residential and light commercial construction market. Due to the relatively short building season, many attendees that we spoke to were ready to make purchases in the next few months. The economic conditions in the state are improving and many builders were seeing increased activity as compared to the past few years.

According to the Alaska Home Builders Association (AHBA), the three main cities in Alaska, Fairbanks, Juneau, and Anchorage, are seeing the mainstay of construction activity with Anchorage accounting for over 60 percent of new housing starts. The renovation and remodeling market is still considerably stronger than new housing construction and the AHBA predicts that it will continue to drive construction activity for the next year.

Anecdotally, we met with a number of people who were looking to build cabins, vacation, and dream homes on property they have outside of the metropolitan areas in places like Homer and Skagway. Due to the significant challenges of building in remote areas and the with short building season, these buyers were drawn to the advantages of prebuilt and pre-constructed housing offered by members like Linwood and Pacific Homes or by Bigfoot Log Homes.

According to analysts, with the Alaska economy improving and with continued oil and gas development in the state, the outlook for Alaska is positive. Market opportunity for BC and Canadian companies wanting to sell into Alaska is favourable. As with most markets, finding a good partner in Alaska is critical to developing a long term sales into the state.

For more information on Alaska or other markets in the United States, please feel free to contact me at  dfarley@bcwood.com

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Seoul Living Design Fair 2012

On April 2nd, 2012, posted in: BC Wood Members, Industry News by Comments Off

BC Wood just finished participating at the 2012 Seoul Living Design Fair in South Korea. This was the second year that space was taken and the response from the show was overwhelmingly positive. As a result of last year’s positive reception, the Design Canada booth was expanded to showcase even more products and Canadian furniture designers from our membership.

Held at the COEX convention centre in downtown Seoul, the five day design event attracted approximately 150,000 attendees including interior and industrial designers, artists, and homeowners. Interest in the Design Canada booth was tremendous and, despite being on the back wall, traffic through the booth was heavy throughout the duration of the show. Wood was clearly a material of choice at the show with many of the other exhibitors prominently showcasing unique designs of art and furniture using various wood species.

Four BC Wood members had products at the event including John Ross Designs, Mario Sabljak Furniture, Martha Sturdy, and Brent Comber Originals. The entire Design Canada booth was very well received and became the highlight of numerous Korean media spotlights and publications. Several publications and media groups interviewed participating members of the Design Canada space with a keen interest to learn more about Canadian designers exhibiting in Korea.

For more information about the show, please contact David Pao at dpao@bcwood.com

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Spotlight: Ainsworth

On April 2nd, 2012, posted in: BC Wood Members, Industry News, Markets, Product Sectors, Reman by Comments Off

The Ainsworth Story:A resourceful family builds a world leader

The Ainsworth saga began humbly. In 1952, David Ainsworth and his brother Tom moved to BC’s Cariboo country, bringing a sawmill with them-a small one, that could be towed behind a tractor or truck. They set up in the forests of Williams Lake, then Clinton, and finally settled in 100 Mile House. Along with the brothers and David’s wife Susan, the company boasted three employees. They lived and worked in tents, moving into portable cabins as the business grew. Today, Ainsworth employs over 600 people and operates four manufacturing facilities across Canada.

Products carrying their signature AinsworthEngineered® brand are trusted across North America and are increasingly popular in Japan. After more than half a century, 100 Mile House, the site of Ainsworth’s first OSB mill, is still a centre of activity, and the home of one of their most advanced OSB operations.

Early in their history, David Ainsworth made the strategic decision not to rely on large, old growth timber such as Douglas fir, and instead chose to utilize fast-growing, small-diameter lodge-pole pine. This put him at odds with much of the prevailing opinion of the day, which doubted the viability of the smaller trees, considered a “weed” species by some. They feared the wood would warp and twist. They thought it would be impractical to work with the smaller logs-that they would be labour intensive to handle and weigh.

David saw things differently. He understood that old growth timber was a finite resource that would only diminish over time. He felt that the future was in fast-growing, renewable wood, and he went ahead with the decision to use lodge-pole pine for Ainsworth lumber.

David Ainsworth’s innovations and foresight set the tone for the company. AinsworthEngineered wood products are manufactured from a number of fast-growing, renewable woods, and also from pine-beetle killed trees that would otherwise be wasted. “Our wood resources are harvested from sustainably managed North American forests, and manufactured with virtually no waste.” Ainsworth is a strong supporter of “green” construction practices, and as a company, they are committed to sustainability in every aspect of their operations.

Today, although no longer a family owned enterprise, Ainsworth remains a leading manufacturer of engineered wood products including oriented strand board (OSB). The company operates four OSB mills located in 100 Mile House, British Columbia; Grande Prairie and High Level, Alberta; and Barwick, Ontario.

Ainsworth is a Canadian forest products company with a reputation for reliability, stability, and is unsurpassed in customer service to vendors, builders, architects, and homeowners.

For more information on Ainsworth and AinsworthEngineered products, visit their website at  http://www.ainsworthengineered.com 

 

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The HSBC International Business Awards recongize Canadian companies who have successfully taken their products and services to the world.

Does your company have an international success story to share? This is your opportunity to receive the recognition you deserve.

Award winners will be showcased as world leaders at the Gala Awards Ceremony and will be featured in a national publicity campaign to further recognize their international success.

Tell us your story – send your application today.

Deadline for applications: April 16, 2012

Apply at: bwob.ca/awards 

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As many of you know, we have confirmed the dates and space for the GBM this year and as usual, would like to offer the first opportunity and space allocation to last year’s participants, before we go public.  I am happy to say that we have secured the Whistler Conference Centre for September 6th to 8th, 2012.

We are very pleased to be partnering once again with the Western Red Cedar Lumber and Export Associations (WRCLA/EA) on the event.  This is a great opportunity to not only meet with important international buyers and decision makers, but also re-connect with your peers in the industry.

Registered Exhibitors will also have full access to the BC Wood & WRCLA Association programs scheduled for Thursday the 6th.

In case you have not participated in the past GBM’s, we put together a few short videos of the event last year:

2011 Global Buyers Mission Video: http://youtu.be/B0fS5puvTQA
2011 Living and Building with Wood Video: http://youtu.be/724QpufhNLQ
2011 Exhibitor testimonials: http://youtu.be/jft5iB9EEGI
2011 Buyer Testimonials: http://youtu.be/F5_iaRF-6mc
BC Wood YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/BCWoodAssociation

If you are a past exhibitor and want to guarantee your space for the 2012 GBM, please let us know so we can forward you the new “on-line registration link”, where you can select your number 1, 2 & 3 choices for space.  As you know, booth space selection is based on a first come-first served basis.

If you have NOT participated in the GBM but would like to be put on the invitation list, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

I look forward to seeing you all on the Mountain this year!

Randi Walker
Director, Marketing & Communications
Tel: 604-882-7100
Toll Free: 1-877-4 BCWOOD
Email: gbm@bcwood.com

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Coming next week, BC Wood will be participating for the second time at the Seoul Living Design Fair at COEX in the Korean Market. Last year, the small, but targeted exhibit showcased high-end designed furniture from British Columbia and was extremely well received. Members of Korea’s design community were very interested in the Design Canada theme and had a particular interest in the use of wood as a material. This year, we are taking a larger space and showcasing more companies and new products at Korea’s key design trade show of the year. Check back with the next issue of Wood Connections for the results of this event. For more information, contact David Pao at  dpao@bcwood.com.

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A few comments, suggestions, and ideas that may be of interest to the industry…

I tend to be a glass half full kind of guy; an optimist by nature, which incidentally has been a necessity for my choosing the forest industry as my sector for employment. It is with this optimism in mind that I honestly believe that the US may have finally turned the corner and that their economy is on the rebound. I know, for those of you who have read my comments over the past few years, I can easily be accused of saying this every few months – but this time I mean it.

I was down in Northern California this past week and met with a number of builders, architects, and distributors in the region. The feedback and general consensus was that the construction market is improving and they were busier now than they have been in the last two years. I usually can get a pretty good gauge on the activity in a given market by first talking to the architects. They are the first link in the distribution chain and if they are busy, it is a fair assumption that the builder and distributor will benefit from the work in the following months. Of the three architects that I met, two had five or more projects that they were working on, primarily in high-end residential construction , and the third architect had two residential projects and one light commercial project on the books for 2012.

On the builder and distributor side, things seemed a little less busy; but that I was told was due to it being winter months and that construction activity is generally slow during this period. That being said, numerous builders were gearing up for a decent spring and summer construction period. Upcoming projects were evenly split between new home construction and renovations. During site visits with builders, I counted over 115 residential and light commercial projects underway in the Lake Tahoe region which I validated with a quick check at the local planning commissions. Many of these projects were of high dollar value, with residential construction in the $400/square foot and above range.

On the distribution side, the general manager of Tahoe Truckee Lumber Company (TTLC), commented that business is up 22% over this time last year and about 28% over the previous few years. He commented on the market, suggesting that many of the projects were for Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who have cashed out stock options and were investing in real estate and secondary vacation homes in the Tahoe region. Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay area is approximately a 2.5 hour drive from Lake Tahoe, up the I 80 highway. Similar results were discussed with the sales crew at Tahoe City Lumber and Reno Building supplies.

While this is but a snapshot of the construction sector in the Western US, most analysts and industry insiders believe that the US market is on the rebound and that residential and light commercial construction is expected to grow over the course of the year. It will be interesting to see if the same optimism and construction activity is being experienced in Southern California when BC Wood and member companies participate in the Wood Solutions fair this week in Long Beach, California. I will keep you posted. For more information on the US market, email me at dfarley@bcwood.com

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