At 57th annual meeting, MFPC tackles biomass, CHP, secondary wood manufacturing and strategic planning

MFPC members and others in the forest products industry gathered at the Samoset Resort  Sept. 18 to hear about what’s happening in our industry and to exchange ideas about where it should be headed. 

“Great annual meeting!” said Mark Doty of Weyerhaeuser.

The Council also released the third in its series of reports on the state’s forest economy: Secondary Wood Manufacturing in Maine. Also known as value-added wood manufacturing, it is generally defined as continued manufacturing beyond the production of lumber.

“Great job. I really enjoyed the meeting,” said Drew Cota of Cross Insurance. “I was congratulating some of the companies on their info in Secondary Wood Manufacturing in Maine.”

“I look forward to talking with long time friends and business relationships,” said Dick Robertson, formerly of Farm Credit East. “I felt positive and encouraged about the  future of Maine’s forest products industry.  Timely and relevant speakers.  Always a great event and well planned/organized by Executive Director Patrick Strauch and staff.” 

Secondary wood processing once played an enormous role in Maine’s rural economy, with mills in many towns across the state. Then from roughly 1998 to 2008, a flood of imports put many mills out of business. In 2003 alone about a dozen closed.  The survivors, however, learned lessons about how to survive in global markets and their industry is now growing again.

“Maine has the strongest secondary manufacturing of all the Northern New England states by far,” said Dave Redmond, director of Wood Products Initiatives at the Northern Forest Center. “Several wood products busi­nesses during the recession went out of business, but the remaining businesses were stronger and were able to pick up the pieces and move forward.”

At the request of the Maine Forest Products Council (MFPC), Dr. Mindy Crandall and doctoral candidate James Anderson III studied the economic impact of secondary wood manufacturing in Maine in 2014, comparing it to similar Michigan research, which was released in 2016. They found the total impact was 8,884 jobs and $1.8 billion in 2014, about 20 percent of the forest products industry’s $10.2 billion 2014 impact.

“Those jobs can make a big difference for specific communities,” Crandall said.

Executive Director Patrick Strauch and MFPC lobbyist Michele MacLean updated members on what’s happening on the political front. 

Featured speakers at the MFPC annual meeting were:

Dr. Petri Sirviö director of Incubation/New Business Development at Stora Enso Oyj, a leading multinational forest products company, speaking about Reinventing the Forest Products Industry: What can we learn from Finland? See videoPetri Sirvio slide presentation

Craig Rawlings, president and CEO of the Forest Business Network, who is recognized as a national expert and leader in under-utilized timber and woody biomass, speaking about The Challenges Facing Biomass Even in Timber Rich State. See videoCraig Rawlings slide presentation

Members also had an opportunity to consider if combined heat and power (CHP) is right for their businesses, thanks to an-in-depth panel discussion by Alden Robbins,  Robbins Lumber; Chuck Qualey, APPI, Robert Linkletter, Maine Wood Pellets Co.; Benjamin McDaniel, Research Fellow. University of Massachusetts Amherst, Center for Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy and U.S. DOE Northeast CHP Technical Assistance Partnership, and moderator Eric Kingsley, partner, Innovative Natural Resource Solutions. See video.

Russell Edgar, Senior Lab Operations and Wood Composites Manager, University of Maine, told us what’s happening with mass timber in Maine. See video. Maine Mass Timber slide presentation. And Sarah Curran reported on the progress of the Maine Forest Economic Growth Initiative, also known as the “road map.”

“Overall I thought the meeting was great,” said Jimmy Robbins Sr. of Robbins Lumber. “The speaker subjects were very timely.”  

MFPC also announced its annual awards for “the best of 2017,” including:

  • Steve Schley, president of Pingree Associates in Bangor, received the Albert D. Nutting Award “in recognition of his leadership and innovation in the forest industry, his passion for strategic planning, and his accomplishments as a forest landowner, business leader and conservationist.” The award has been presented annually since 1990 to a remarkable group of individuals, each of them truly unique, but with a common commitment to Maine and its forest industry.
  • Barry Burgason, retired wildlife biologist from Huber Resources, received the Abby Holman Public Service Award “in recognition of his leadership and dedication to wildlife habitat management and his strong support for public education, as well as cooperation between sportsmen and landowners.” The Holman award recognizes outstanding service on behalf of Maine’s forest products industry.
  • Win Smith of Limington Lumber was named Maine’s Outstanding Manufacturer, “in recognition of outstanding quality control, safety performance, progressive management and sustained business growth since 1961.”
  • Dan Qualey of Qualey Logging in Benedicta was chosen as Maine’s Outstanding Logger “in recognition of exemplary on the ground performance and an unwavering commitment to meeting the management objectives of the landowner.” 
  • President’s Award: MFPC President Jim Contino presented Eric Dumond of Waterville, formerly of ReEnergy and now vice president of procurement at Maine Biomass Exports, with a special award “in recognition of supply chain excellence for woody biomass through a unique field chipper lease-to-own program that expanded production capacity to meet growing demand from 2001 through 2016.”

More information about MFPC awards.