A few comments and suggestions that may be of interest to industry…
The first few months of the calendar year proved to be extremely busy for the US program with our participation in the IBS show in Las Vegas which was immediately followed by the BIA Hawaii. While I admit there could be worse places to be in January than Vegas and Hawaii, having both events back to back provided a number of logistical and time challenges. The good news is that if you use these events as a barometer of market conditions in the US construction sector, then one could conclude that the market south of the border is finally getting better.
As discussed in the last edition of the Wood Connections, the IBS show has an impressive attendance, topping the 60,000 mark for the first time in five years. The same could be said for the Building Industry Hawaii (BIA Hawaii) trade event. While this regional event is small, interest and participation from the building community from across the Hawaiian Islands was strong. In fact, attendance at this years’ show was 20% higher than last year and up 45% over the past three years. Builders and other buyers who came by the booths were optimistic that market conditions were on the upswing and many were starting projects in the residential and light commercial construction sectors.
The Hawaiian market continues to be a prime location for BC grown softwood species including Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar (WRC), and Yellow Cedar. This was evidenced by a site visit to a new development on the Big Island of Hawaii. This project is a high-end residential development of 40 plus homes anchored by a private beach club and golf course. More impressive than the view was the use of WRC and Douglas Fir in the construction of the residences and commercial buildings. WRC is featured extensively in the project including WRC shingles in the roof, 12’’clear board and baton exterior siding, and VG WRC interior panelling; the project was a showcase for the species. The architect specified WRC in part due to the unique colour and weather resistance properties of the wood. Where structural timbers were needed, Douglas Fir was specified and is prominently featured in the golf club house and beach club buildings. See images below.
This project is expected to last for the next four to six years. There is an opportunity for BC Wood members to supply materials and finished products for this project. In fact, with improving market conditions being experienced across the US construction sector, there remains excellent potential for the BC Industry to develop and grow market share through participation in trade events such as IBS and BIA Hawaii.
For more information on these events or other opportunities in the US market, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com
In January, BC Wood participated with one of its member companies in the BAU fair in Munich, January 14th -19, 2013. While the turnout from BC Wood members was disappointing, the fair itself was probably the best show I have attended in two or three years. The BAU fair, held every two years, is the largest building materials trade event in Europe. Other shows, especially those in Asia, claim larger numbers; however, their numbers are pumped up based on the practice of allowing the general public access to the show. The BAU fair is a strictly trade-only event and this past event attracted over 240,000 visitors to the six day show.
The BAU fair has a strong international draw with over 60,000 of the attendees coming from countries outside Germany and the bordering Western European countries. This year saw strong contingents from Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia, Scandinavia, Turkey, Dubai, and other countries within the Middle East. The BAU fair lived up to its reputation as the “architects fair” with close to 50,000 attendees coming from architectural, planning and, design offices.
The size of the BAU fair is staggering with the 180,000 square meters of occupied exhibition space spread over 14 different exhibition halls that showcased the products and services of 2060 exhibitors. In total, 41 different countries where represented in the BAU exhibition halls. The halls were arranged by product categories. BC Wood was located in the “wood building systems” hall along with another 75-80 exhibitors. This arrangement works well as it tends to concentrate the buyers with a wood interest into two halls, ours and the one next door showcasing wood doors, windows, and flooring systems.
The traffic at the BC Wood booth was busy, many times a crowd two or three deep were in front or our booth waiting to talk to someone. This fact was a little astonishing considering that we did not have a display that was anywhere near as elaborate or as large as some of our neighbors. I think the fact that the Canadian flag was prominent and that we had a cross section from a cedar log home on display helped to pull the buyers in. People felt drawn to come into the booth to touch and smell the cedar. Many people did not even know the name of the species, but they did know that they liked it and the conversations started from there. I also think flying the “maple leaf” was important as our booth attracted a far higher proportion of attendees from outside of Germany. Almost 50% on the visitors to the BC Wood booth were from outside Germany. The vast majority of inquiries we responded to were related directly to Western Red Cedar and log home and timber frame projects. The market for these two product categories remains strong within Western Europe, but, particularly, in the new emerging markets of Central and Eastern Europe.
So, to say that I was impressed with the BAU fair and the level of interest that BC Wood received at the fair would be an understatement. I would urge BC Wood members manufacturing log, timber frame, pre-built homes, and any Western Red Cedar products to seriously consider participating in the BAU fair when it comes around again in January of 2015. For more background and some additional observation on the BAU fair, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the past several years BC Wood has been promoting design related products in Japan such as furniture and millwork. We have been successful in having such products specified into several high-profile projects. Recently even one of Japan’s top department stores came to us as they were interested in using some pieces in a display.
Isetan’s flagship Shinjuku store attracts wealthy, fashion conscious shoppers from across Kanto. The Canadian Embassy in Tokyo has worked with them to promote Canadian apparel and recommended BC Wood when Isetan was looking to create a stylish, woody atmosphere to launch a new line of clothing.
We introduced them to a variety of furniture pieces as well as millwork options, but the store’s designers knew they had found exactly what they were looking for once they saw Brent Comber’s work and the WRCLA published Cedar Book. Using selected pieces from Brent as well as a selection of WRC products, Isetan was able to create a sophisticated yet woody display. The store felt that their customers really enjoyed the warmth of the Canadian wood products. Hopefully this will encourage some of their clients to consider using Canadian materials for their own homes in the near future.
As always, BC Wood greatly appreciates all of the support given to us by the Canadian Embassy. We look forward to more such collaborative efforts in the future.read more
Last week, BC Wood Specialties Group hosted the 9th annual Global Buyers Mission in Whistler, BC. Among the 19 international delegations that attended were timber importers from India looking to replace current wood sources with Canadian wood products. After attending the successful Global Buyers Mission, the India delegation visited BC value-added wood manufacturers as part of their extended mission. One of the companies they visited was International Forest Products (Interfor) Acorn Division in Delta, BC. The Acorn mill is an export sawmill dedicated to manufacturing high value squares and timbers that are used in housing and industrial applications across global markets.
Dave Hayer, MLA Surrey-Tynehead, opened the event on Tuesday at Interfor by welcoming the India delegation to BC. He stated that one of the goals of BC’s Job Plan is opening up markets abroad for BC goods. “Helping companies like Interfor make connections with new companies overseas is one of BC Jobs Plan initiatives that we have been focused on.” Mike De Jong, Minister of Finance, took the podium on behalf of Premier Christy Clark and Minister Pat Bell to further explain the BC Job Plan strategy and outcome.
Following the opening speeches, the India delegation attended two seminars, went on a tour of the mill, and learned about grading standards at Interfor. The seminars, delivered by John Leahy from Canadian Mill Services, dealt with the phyto-sanitary rules for sending forest products from Canada to India and BC’s tree species and wood products. The mill tour lead the delegation through the mill, letting them observe how a log is remanufactured into a timber product. Lastly, the delegation was shown the different types of wood species Interfor remanufactures at their plant and how they are graded.read more
Last November, BC Wood, with a small group of member companies, completed a very successful trade mission to Moscow to explore opportunities for value-added wood products in the Russian market, and to participate in the Fall Holzhaus trade show.
BC Woods’ members showcased log home and timber frame structures, factory built homes, high quality millwork, and specialty Western Red Cedar building materials. Members were able to engage with industry professionals from all over Russia and surrounding countries. Developers, architects, builders, distributors, importers, and designers were all in attendance at the show, many of whom came specifically to the show to speak to the Canadian manufacturers.
Based on the success of last year’s program, BC Wood is planning to return to Moscow and the Holzhaus show this coming fall, November 1st- 4th. Space will be available for BC Wood members wanting to participate in the Holzhaus trade shows and I would encourage any companies interested in more information to contact me at email@example.com or in BC Wood’s offices at 604-882-7100.
On Friday June 8th I was invited to take part in the Japan Log Home Association’s AGM and Design Award ceremony. Every year the AGM brings in log home builders from around Japan making it a great opportunity to catch-up with clients. Everyone seemed to be in good spirits this year as the strengthening Japanese economy has been driving housing starts higher.
The main topic of discussion at the AGM was the toughening of building codes for log homes to be used as public facilities. The Japan Log Association is working with the Japanese government to draft the updates, but a lot of the members were concerned that new rules would limit log structures. One particularly worrying development was that machine cut logs might require JAS certification (handcrafted logs would remain exempt) when only a very few companies are able to provide such material. However, this is only for public structures and these new demands are a signal of Japan’s own “wood first” initiatives starting to take hold leading to more opportunities for large-scale log structures. As a result, the government wants to make sure that such large structures will be built properly.
The interest in using log structures as public buildings was also clear amongst this year’s Design Award winners. Notable projects included an elementary school library building, a senior’s daycare facility, a medical clinic, and even temporary houses built in Fukushima after last year’s triple disaster. However, the most impressive award recipient to me was a beautiful WRC post & beam home supplied by our very own Peter Sperlich. Congratulations to Peter and his Japanese partner!
It has been many years since BC Wood organized a log home program in Japan so last week’s event made me think that this might be the right time to offer members such an opportunity. The Japan Home & Building Show from November 14th – 16th would be the ideal show to anchor such a BC Wood program around. Any log builders interested in such a program should contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org more
Westminster Industries Ltd. was founded in 1975 by Dave Wasmuth in New Westminster. It is now one of the most respected and oldest, originally owned lumber wholesalers in the Lower Mainland. They are currently located in White Rock and have a distribution yard in Delta.
Westminster Industries works with the majority of the major and medium sized mills in BC and Alberta, distributing Hemlock, Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar, and SPF to both domestic and international markets including Asia, Middle East, Europe, and Australia. Providing service to purchasers over this broad range of clients is a knowledgeable staff and experienced traders, including two traders fully conversant in all Chinese dialects. Westminster Industries is seen as a valued supplier to its long and growing customer base. They also have strong ties to the community through their various donations and charitable work, with the most recent being donations for the new White Rock Bike Park.
Since their start in 1975, Westminster Industries has been following the trends and adapting to the market. This, coupled with their experienced staff, has been the key to their growth and success. They recently updated their website to reflect current conditions and company adaptions. The website is now easier to function and educates the customer on what Westminster’s products and services are. To view their new website, go to www.westmin.ca
By Daryl Holmes
BC Wood recently led a group of members on a market development mission to Turkey which included participation at TurkeyBuild in the capital city of Ankara. Product sectors represented included Log Home and Timber frame, Prebuilt Housing, and Remanufactured Lumber Products.
In the Turkish construction materials sector, wood products have approximately 20% market share with consumption mainly in private up-scale villas and some high end commercial resort style development. The consumption of wood in major residential housing projects and light commercial projects is low when compared to concrete and steel (for structure) or PVC (for windows/doors), however, as with most markets in the Eastern European area, the demand for wood is on the rise. Both private and public sectors in Turkey are engaged in a shift (albeit a slow shift) towards a growth in the use of wood products. Industry professionals and consumers alike have a keen interest in wood as a construction material, as was evident during the show in Ankara. The earthquake in 1999 has drawn attention to the importance of timber in construction, however; with the economic impact of the global meltdown, progress has been slow in the area of conveying the attributes of wood and educating key decision makers as to the benefits of using wood in construction. There is without a doubt, an increase in construction taking place right now in Turkey as residents look to build homes on the outskirts of some of the major cities. Accordingly, a select group of builders, developers, and importers are currently involved in projects outside of the main city centres which are being built with wood. During our stay in Turkey, we were able to make contact with many of these industry professionals and discuss opportunities for BC products.
The show itself was very busy, which in the current global market place was encouraging for the members. Although the Ankara show is a more of a regional show (with the main construction show being held in Istanbul in May), it drew attendees from all over Turkey and some surrounding countries. Numerous Architects, Engineers, Builders and Designers engaged in discussions with the BC exhibitors. The outcome of those interactions predominantly showcased the demand and desire for wood, while also highlighting the lack of distribution of products within the Turkish marketplace. In a jointly hosted event with the Turkish Timber Association, members were also able to showcase their products to key importers and building materials distributors located in and around the construction hub of Istanbul. Response from these professionals was again encouraging, as products including Western Red Cedar, Prebuilt Housing, and Log Homes proved to be of high interest for regions all across Turkey, including the coastal regions of the Black Sea.
Where do the sales prospects lie?
A clear demand for wood products exists within the Turkish marketplace. Much of the wood imported into Turkey is from surrounding markets of Russia, Ukraine, and Scandinavia. The key to accessing this demand for BC companies is securing partnership with local wood importers and distributors of other building materials. This process will take some time and investment by BC Wood members and this show in Ankara was a positive step in the right direction. Turkish building professionals are starved of opportunity to partner with Canadian companies and they are motivated to establish relationships with producers of high quality wood products. As with all new and emerging markets, finding the right partner is crucial in gaining market penetration. Turkey’s current growth is expected to continue well into the next ten years and those members who continue to put time and effort into the Turkey market will be rewarded with sales and long term partnerships.
What is the market looking for?
WRC Lumber, WRC Shake and Shingles, Hand Crafted Log Homes, MDF, Plywood, Yellow Cedar, Hemlock, Douglas Fir, and Prebuilt Homes.
How do I access these opportunities?
BC Wood will distribute the show leads via the online Wood Supply Network. For more detailed market information contact email@example.com more
This week I got a chance to visit The Grape Box in Burnaby and chat with Ruth Hoffman. The Grape Box is a social enterprise supported by The Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion.
They have a triple bottom-line business model. First and foremost, they offer high quality products at competitive prices with excellent customer service. Secondly, on an environmental note, all of their products are made from reclaimed western red cedar and pine beetle wood. Lastly, their social mandate is to create training and employment for adults with intellectual disabilities.
They currently employ 6 adults with intellectual disabilities at their Burnaby woodshop. “We are fortunate to have found ideal employees to perform the tasks of cutting, sanding, planning, and engraving and who do not mind the repetitive nature of our work. Our employees are highly motivated and appreciative of the opportunities to learn wood-working skills and even more thrilled to be paid minimum wage and be able to be contributing citizens to our community. Successfully matching skills to tasks is a key factor to managing our personnel costs and ultimately a sustainable operation,” says Ruth.
The Grape Box started off as a program in the 1980′s run by The Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI). www.gobaci.com. With years of experience and a growing reputation for quality and service, The Grape Box was spun off into a separate social enterprise in 2007. Today they operate in Burnaby with over 4,500 sq ft. and an integrated workforce of 10.
Their name represents their flagship product – the wine box; however, they also produce outdoor furniture (Adirondack chairs, high and low-back chairs, planters and picnic tables); and a wide assortment of gift boxes for the corporate promotional market. Because they are a small shop, they are also able to accept requests for custom designs and have made table centerpieces, arbors, small bridges, coasters, and trays. They have a laser engraver on-site which allows them to produce high quality engraved products.
“Above and beyond our commitment to being fiscally and environmentally responsible, we chose this business because it offered employment opportunities to individuals with all types of abilities,” says Hoffman. Their philosophy is to build a society where everyone has the opportunity to be included, challenged and successful. “We want to be able to offer more jobs with barriers to employment and become one of BC’s prized business models,” says Ruth.
For more information on the Grape Box, please visit www.thegrapebox.com
Architects seek wood that lightens a project’s environmental footprint.
Over the past decade there has been a dramatic upswing in the number of companies that want to build reputations as good corporate citizens. Natural, organic, and sustainable are all highly desirable characteristics in the wide world of products. According to a 2009 study by accounting and consulting firm Deloitte Touche, 95 percent of shoppers would buy green provided they had the right information on an otherwise satisfactory item. But with the plethora of environmental claims by companies seeking to advance their products, “green,” “eco friendly,” “sustainable,” and the like are terms that have become confusing at best, meaningless at worst. In order to keep from drowning in greenwash, the market has demanded greater transparency and verifiable evidence of sustainable performance all along the supply chain.
This article will discuss how architects can be reasonably assured that products, particularly wood products, are maximally sustainable. Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) and forest certification will be discussed in terms of their place on an architect’s sustainability agenda, and an LCA of western redcedar will be presented to demonstrate the level of research involved, along with results that can be expected from the life cycle approach. Read More.read more