The booming housing economy and furniture manufacturing, and even demand for whiskey are all affecting the surge in hardwood exports to North Asia markets. One in three boards coming off the production line is destined for the People’s Republic of China. Companies nationwide are supplying a variety of hardwood species to customers in China, Korea and Japan.

One third of the U.S. is forested area accounting for 751 million acres, which is second only to Russia’s 766 million acres. In 2017, the U.S. value of industry shipments of wood was $95 billion. Asia markets are depending on a sustainable source of temperate hardwood (ash, cherry, maple, oak, walnut) and the U.S. can increase exports because of careful management of its forests. In fact, the U.S. grows more hardwood each year than it harvests for reliable supplies, according to United Kingdom based International Timber. Moreover, the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) confirmed to the AJOT that the U.S. surpassed Russia as the top temperate hardwood exporter to China.


According to EUWID, estonian exports of rough-sawn and planed softwood lumber to non-EU countries increased by 28 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017 vis à vis the comparative quarter of the preceding year to 67,325m³. According to preliminary information from Eurostat, at 35,724m³, almost half the total volume was delivered to customers in Australia which corresponds to an increase of 80 percent. Exports to EU countries, at 97,466m³, fell short of the preceding year’s volume by 21 percent. 

In the first quarter exports were 16 percent below the preceding year’s figure. In the second and third quarters exports decreased by 26 percent and 13 percent respectively.


The planned and ongoing construction of mixed-use mega projects in the UAE is driving the demand for wood, and wood related products, experts at the Dubai WoodShow said on Monday.

Dr Abdullah bin Mohammed Belhaif Al Nuaimi, UAE Cabinet Member and Minister of Infrastructure Development, officially inaugurated the 13th edition of the event and spoke about the importance of the show in light of the UAE's construction sector.

"Any segment, including the wood industry, is going to be important in a country like the UAE, which is seeing vast developments to prepare for global events such as Expo 2020," he said after the opening of the event. "The wood industry is very important to us and it is an added value to our economy."


Latest statistics (to November 2017) show tropical sawn hardwood imports declined sharply last year, reports from ITTO.

The EU imported 822,600 cu.m of tropical sawn hardwood between January and November 2017 was 20 percent less than the same period in 2016.

In the eleven-month period, tropical sawn hardwood imports declined from all 10 of the top suppliers to the EU.

From Cameroon imports fell 21 percent to 293,800 cu.m, from Gabon 21 percent to 93,700 cu.m, from Brazil 6 percent to 92,500 cu.m, Congo 18 percent to 49,900 cu.m, Cote d’Ivoire 21 percent to 45,200 cu.m, Ghana 19 percent to 18,600 cu.m, Democratic Republic of Congo 51 percent to 15,000 cu.m and Ecuador 11 percent to 9,600 cu.m.

According to some importers, one reason is adjustment after over optimistic buying in 2015 and 2016. Trade was further disrupted in 2017 by particularly heavy seasonal rains in both Africa and Asia.

Worsening congestion at the Cameroon port of Douala, due to supply bottlenecks following the rains, combined with lack of dredging resulting in reduced vessel load factors, added to problems in West Africa.

While also pointing out that a significant proportion of timber shipped into their country is en route to other European markets, Belgian importers also attributed the dramatic fluctuation in its imports from Cameroon from 2015/16 to 2017 to post-recession improvement in supplier mills’ capacity and efficiency.

Long lead times immediately after the international downturn, in some cases extending to two years, led to some Belgian importers increasing order volumes to secure sufficient stock.


Residential furniture orders dropped nine percent in December 2017 compared to the year prior, according to the latest Furniture Insights survey of residential furniture manufacturers and distributors from Smith Leonard. December's drop is only the second time in 2017 where new orders decreased compared with the same month in the year prior.

The good news for 2017 was that year-to-date, and new orders were up six percent over last year, with shipments also up four percent. "In spite of the slow finish in December, 2017 was what we would say was a decent year," noted Ken Smith, managing partner at Smith Leonard. "While there were a few participants up low double digits, the participants in general were fairly close together." 

Shipments in December dipped seven percent compared to the same period in 2016, with about 60 percent of the participants reporting declines. Backlogs fell 10 percent compared to November, and also down four percent compared to December 2016, Smith Leonard reported.

On the retail side, sales at furniture and home furnishings stores were up 4.7 percent in January over January 2017 on an adjusted basis and 6.6 percent unadjusted, according to the report. Consumer confidence reports are also positive.


According to EUWID, in 2017, Swedish soft-wood-timber and planed-product producers raised their exports slightly by one percent against the year before to around 13.1m m³. At roughly 27bn SEK, the total value of the exports was nine percent higher than a year earlier, setting a record figure. According to the provisional figures published by the Swedish Forest Industries Federation (Skogsindustrierna), by far the highest rate of growth was recorded for exports to Asia at +14 percent to 2.05m m³. At 919,300 m³, exports to China including Hong Kong rose by 18 percent. Exports to Japan were eight percent up at 840,900 m³.

The highest percentage rate of growth was recorded for exports to North America, primarily to the USA, at +61 percent to 410,300 m³. Exports to buyers in Europe were raised only slightly by two percent to 7.97m m³. The UK, traditionally the main recipient within Europe, took delivery of a total of 2.58m m³, a reduction of 5 percent against the year before. 

The persistently difficult market conditions in North Africa and the Middle East were the main factor responsible for the reduction in Sweden’s exports to these regions last year. In spite of an increase of 13 percent in deliveries to Egypt to 1.29m m³, exports to Africa fell by eight percent to 2.16m m³.


The 10th edition of India Wood has taken place at the Bangalore International Exhibition Centre from 8 - 12 March 2018.

As one of the world’s leading exhibitions for the furniture manufacturing and the woodworking industry, it has offered its audience a comprehensive overview of the prevailing technological innovations and the latest manufacturing trends in furniture manufacturing, woodworking technologies, tools, fittings, accessories and raw materials. 

The show floor of INDIAWOOD 2018 spanned over approximately 50,000 sqm with more than 850 exhibitors from 40 countries showcasing the latest machines, technological innovations, equipment, smart manufacturing trends as well as materials, fittings, tools to the projected 60,000 attendees from across the globe. 

INDIAWOOD 2018 continued to be one of the largest sourcing platform for furniture manufacturers, wood based handicraft manufacturers, saw millers, carpenters, craftsmen, architects and interior designers in the region.

In addition, the show has been renowned for its many live demonstrations and product launches during the show. Buyers clocked in for a complete overview of the market and technology in all its dimensions and created millions worth of business possibilities.

Some visitors expressed that “Exhibiting at the show is very efficient and effective. It is also a successful marketing tool to generate business prospects in five days.”


The alder tree: understated, fast-growing and resilient. This is how Northwest Hardwoods veteran and current Hardwood Lumber Product Manager, Dave Bosley, views the company that gave him his start 39 years ago.

“Working at Northwest Hardwoods has been like being on a rocket,” said Bosley, who has witnessed the company change from a one-mill operation to become today’s largest manufacturer and global supplier of hardwood lumber. “It has been a constant go, go, go environment.”

Founder Arnold Curtis established Northwest Hardwoods (NWH) in 1967, by creating a single alder mill in Arlington, Washington. With his pioneering vision, he set out to transform the under-appreciated alder tree into the high quality lumber product that it is today. Along the way, Curtis created a brand that has garnered admiration for its consistent high quality products, industry innovation, and its customer-focused philosophy.

“In the early years, Northwest Hardwoods showed an entrepreneurial spirit like a tech start-up, willing to experiment and take risks,” continued Bosley. “That time period set the groundwork for our continuing effort to do things differently from the rest of the industry.”

Innovation and Quality

One of the keys to its early success, and a cornerstone of the NWH brand, was the company’s introduction of a proprietary grading structure for alder. During the 1960‘s and 1970‘s, the hardwood industry was based on a limited number of standard grades. NWH identified an opportunity to more directly serve the needs of the customer, and took the bold step of creating proprietary grades, tailored to meet their specific application requirements. For example, by splitting the standard #1 Common into two distinct new grades (2-face Cabinet and 1-face Custom Shop), NWH offered the customer flexible options to maximize yield efficiency and lower costs.

This innovative move to proprietary grading has continued to evolve, as the company has grown and expanded its product offerings and reach. However, the program would not be a success without the parallel emphasis on quality control.

“We deliver a consistent product year after year, truck after truck, container after container,” said Darren Gellerson, Plant Manager, Longview/Centralia and West Coast Regional Quality Control Manager. “Quality control has become a vital part of the business, and our book of best practice guidelines is like our playbook; we never waver from it. Everyone from the cleanup person to the sawyer and grader understands how the various lumber grades are used by the customer, and the importance of consistent product quality.”

People Make the Difference

Gellerson joined NWH nearly four decades ago, originally tasked with pulling lumber on the green chain, and like Dave Bosley, who hired him, he has never grown bored.

“Work is really fun,” Gellerson remarked. “I had a five-year plan, and now I’ve been here for 38 years!”

Both Bosley and Gellerson have been a part of the fabric of NWH for most of the company’s 50 years, and they each point to the people as being a primary reason for its success.

High employee retention has contributed greatly to NWH’ s ability to work collaboratively within the company, and along with its customers. This collaborative approach is most evident between the sales and operations teams, in which an open dialogue allows questions to be answered and decisions to be made quickly. Salespeople routinely visit the mills, often bringing customers along with them.

“We feel that it is important for our customers to see our facilities, and for the people at our facilities to meet our customers and understand their needs,” added Bosley. “Listening to and engaging our customers has always been a top priority for Northwest Hardwoods.”

Growth and Reach

By 1980, when Weyerhaeuser Corporation bought NWH, the company’s foundation and innovative culture was firmly established and ready to enter a steady growth mode for much of the next 30 years. Among numerous acquisitions, key mills were purchased in Onalaska, WI (1984) and Titusville, PA (1987), marking NWH’s entrance into the Glacial and Appalachian growing regions, respectively. In 2006, the addition of hardwood plywood served as another major building block to the company’s breadth of product offerings.

In addition to product expansion during this period, NWH also significantly broadened its international market reach. With the benefit of Weyerhaeuser’s established presence in Japan, NWH became the first to export alder lumber into the Japanese market in the early 1980‘s. NWH was also visionary in the Chinese market, identifying the opportunities in the region long before others in the industry became aware. In both Japan and China, local NWH offices were established, and staffed by highly skilled local employees, securing a leadership foothold that continues today.

Having become the clear leader in the hardwoods industry, NWH was eventually bought by American Industrial Partners in 2011 and then by its current owner, Littlejohn & Co, in 2014. Exotic hardwoods were added to its portfolio, and with the acquisition of ITL in 2015, NWH enjoys a significantly larger footprint in the Appalachian hardwoods market. Today, NWH offers 14 different domestic hardwoods, along with more than 20 species of exotics, as well as appearance and structural plywood.

Reliability = Longevity

A business cannot last without cultivating healthy, long-standing customer relationships, and NWH recognized early on that serving as a reliable partner was essential.

Five Star Lumber Company, a family-owned pallet manufacturer since 1981, has been a loyal customer of NWH since the early 1980’s, buying Alder shook for its hardwood pallet production. It is one of many second-generation customers that have enabled NWH to thrive for 50 years.

“Our relationship with Northwest Hardwoods has allowed our business to grow, by giving us the confidence that we had a supplier that would always be there for us,” said Marco Beretta, managing member of Five Star Lumber, who’s father began the relationship with NWH. “Their forward-looking, consistent philosophy has meant long-term, stable pricing for us, and led to a predictable pallet program for our customers.”

Qingdao CX Joy Hardwoods Company, one of the largest panel producers in China, is a customer dating back to 1996, and another illustration of how NWH creates enduring relationships.

“Our business partnership with Northwest Hardwoods has never ceased to strengthen over the last 21 years,” said Heng-yi Lin, President of Qingdao CX Joy Hardwoods. “Ours is not simply a buy-and-sell relationship. Our sales team learns from and works with Northwest Hardwoods on new opportunities, and our production team gives regular feedback to refine products, or to just say ‘thanks’ for shipping us such well-manufactured lumber.”

These long-lasting relationships are emblematic of NWH’s commitment to its guiding vision for the last 50 years. By providing consistent, high-quality products through innovation and strong customer engagement, Northwest Hardwoods has grown from a modest, single sawmill, to become the resilient and reliable brand it is today, recognized across the globe.


SOPHIA and the robotic panel handling systems will be in the spotlight at the Biesse stand at Xylexpo, the 26th biennial global trade fair for technologies for machining wood and furniture industry components, set to take place in Milan from 8 to 12 May 2018.

Today, SOPHIA, the Biesse service platform, is a real tool which provides users with an efficient working method, enabling them to tackle everyday challenges, prevent future issues and improve their standards.

The speed with which SOPHIA is being adopted in the production sector is a strong indicator of the significant benefits that customers are enjoying first hand.

The rapid evolution of the platform and the constant expansion of the functionalities it offers in a short space of time, coupled with the clear investment planned for the next few years, demonstrate Biesse's awareness of the current and future potential of SOPHIA, and its desire to offer customers a production method that can optimise both processes and economic activities in real time, reducing the consumption of all types of resources.

The platform is based on the ability to send real-time information and data on the technologies in use, optimising the performance and productivity of machines and systems. The data collected enables the production process and machine functions to be analysed in detail, detecting malfunctions, assisting customers in maintenance operations, ordering replacement parts in less time and ultimately preventing faults.

The platform consists of two powerful areas, IoT and Parts. The corresponding applications, IoT SOPHIA and Parts SOPHIA, are already available to download for both Apple and Android devices, and Biesse customers with connected machines are already benefiting from these.

Indeed, the IoT SOPHIA application provides the customer with full visibility of the production status of their machines, with performance parameters summarised historically and an overview of the machines in operation. Where a machine stoppage occurs, the corresponding ID code is displayed, with the relevant details if the assistance operations have already been taken over by the Biesse Service Team.

Parts Sophia, meanwhile, provides customers with the opportunity to browse through the documentation for the machines they own, enabling them to create a spare parts basket and monitor the progress of their orders via an easy, intuitive and fully customised tool.

Visitors to Xylexpo will be able to take a closer look at how SOPHIA revolutionises production and simplifies the work of companies every day. But that's not all. The Biesse stand will also provide all those present with a demonstration of the company's ability to transform production processes, courtesy of the high performance handling solutions it offers.

The established success of Biesse in the design and production of systems and solutions is confirmed by the fact that the company has achieved the revenue objectives set out in the three-year plan a year ahead of schedule, with more than 100 projects competed in a single year. But the spirit of innovation that characterises Biesse does not stop here, taking a huge leap forward in the evolution of the robotic panel handling systems. At Xylexpo, 3 different integrated processes with 4 robots will be on display, offering unrivalled levels of system customisation and flexibility, two key requirements in the world of production today.

A total of 30 functioning machines will be exhibited within the 3500 square metres occupied by the Biesse stand, where visitors to Xylexpo will also be able to take a closer look at the technologies that interest them, with the help of highly specialised technical staff.

"Biesse's ability to create digital, automated and interconnected factories has become a reality. We are attending Xylexpo with the desire to communicate the results of our investments to the entire manufacturing sector, demonstrating the concrete advantages that our customers enjoy every day", declares Raphaël Prati, Director of Marketing and Communications for Biesse Group.

"We stand by the side of our customers during every phase of their daily work, disseminating the culture of the digital and automated factory across the world of manufacturing and explaining which levers can lead to extensive margins for growth, whilst providing excellent opportunities to enhance their businesses. This is why we plan to attend several key events throughout the year, to raise awareness of the opportunities we offer our customers. The first of these is the internal 2018 Back to Business event, which will take place at the Pesaro HQ from 25 to 27 January", confirms Federico Broccoli, Biesse Wood Division Director/Sales - Subsidiaries Division Director.


Hardwood plywood imports grew strongly in October before declining again in November 2017 according to ITTO. 

Not surprisingly imports from China were significantly down because of the US antidumping and countervailing duties on plywood from China. Year-to-date plywood imports from China were 24 percent lower than in November 2016.

All other major plywood suppliers shipped more to the US year-to-date compared to the same time last year. Despite the increase in imports from Indonesia, Malaysia, Ecuador and others, the total volume of US hardwood plywood imports was five percent lower year-to-date than in November last year.

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