MFPC’s 56th annual meeting called ‘the best ever!’

A new economic impact study, fascinating presentations on cross-laminated timber and a great slate of award winners all contributed to an outstanding annual meeting Sept. 18-19 in Bangor and Orono.

“I thought it was wonderful — the best annual meeting ever!” said Jim Robbins Sr., longtime MFPC Board member, as the awards banquet came to an end Monday night.

Our 56th annual membership meeting started with a great round of golf — winning team Paul Chadbourne, Randy Irish and Rick Smith, Pleasant River Lumber, and David Wilson, Katahdin Forest Management — and barbecue at the Penobscot Valley Golf Club. Since many members were staying at the Hollywood Casino Hotel, there also were a few winners there (who shall remain nameless).

At the morning business meeting Sept. 19, outgoing  President Dick Robertson handed over his gavel to new MFPC Board President Jim Contino, who welcomed back Mark Doty of Weyerhaeuser as secretary and John Gray, formerly of Chadbourne Farms, as secretary. (See 2016 MFPC Officers.)

Later that evening at the awards banquet, Contino talked about what he hopes to bring to his new role on the council, saying his work as fiber supply manager for Verso has taught him a lot about “the supply chain that knits us together into an integrated industry. It is really this supply chain that defines the common ground for the Maine Forest Products Council. My current job puts me right in the middle of commerce with loggers, landowners, and mills,” Contino said. “This is why I just might be a good choice to help lead MFPC.”  (Read Contino’s message.)

Executive Director Patrick Strauch filled members in on a lot of activity and lobbyist Michele MacLean gave an update on the coming election. (Watch Strauch’s presentation. Download the pdf of the Executive Director’s Report.) 

Russell Edgar, lab operations and wood composites manager, demonstrates how difficult it is to break cross-laminated timber on the tour of the Advanced Structures & Composites Center.

One of the highlights of the day was the presentation on the new economic research about Maine’s forest products industry by Dr. Mindy Crandall, assistant professor of Forest Management and Economics and Ph.D. candidate James Anderson III. Despite some tumultuous years, Maine’s forest products industry will contribute an estimated $8.5 billion to the economy statewide in 2016 and support 33,538 jobs.  About one of every 24 jobs in Maine are associated with the forest products industry and about $1 of every $20 of Maine’s GDP.

“Those numbers communicate how important the industry is to the state,” Crandall said

Their report, Economic contribution of Maine’s forest products industry 2014 and 2016 (estimated), was requested by the Maine Forest Products Council (MFPC), completed June 20 and presented at the MFPC annual meeting Monday in Orono and Bangor. The research takes into account mill closures in 2014, 2015 and January through May of 2016.

Crandall presented the findings Monday to about 100 MFPC members and guests at the annual meeting luncheon. MFPC also released its second edition of Maine’s Forest Economy, which contains the economic impact research, additional industry facts and figures, and essays on current issues by industry leaders and UMaine experts. (Download a PDF of Dr. Crandall’s presentation: Economic Impact of the Forest Products Industry in Maine)

Congressman Bruce Poliquin
Congressman Bruce Poliquin

“This research shows that Maine is still a great place for a forest industry,” Strauch said. “The global economy is evolving rapidly and there are clearly many challenges ahead, but the forest products industry is reinventing itself to meet them.”

The MFPC annual meeting also showcased one of the most exciting new uses of wood – cross-laminated timber (CLT). Steve Shaler, director of UMaine’s School of Forest Resources, assembled a panel of experts to discuss opportunities for projects and manufacturing in Maine.  (Watch the video of all presentations or download a pdf of their PowerPoints below.)

Congressman Bruce Poliquin of Maine’s 2nd District was on hand for the CLT presentations and also spoke during lunch, expressing his support for Maine’s forest products industry. After lunch, members and guests took a fascinating tour through UMaine’s Advanced Structures & Composites Center and Process Development Center.

Monday evening, the annual  banquet began with a tour de force by Jimmy Robbins, who not only made the auction a huge success, but kept his audience laughing as they opened their wallets and checkbooks.

Top (L-R), Don Tardie, Dave Struble, Mike Dann; lower row, Brian, Scott, and Brent Day.

MFPC also announced its awards for “the best of 2016,” including:

Don Tardie of Ashland, who retired as managing director of the Maine Woods Co. in 2013, 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 forester, business manager 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. Read more.

Dave Struble of Pittston, state entomologist at the Maine Forest Service, received the Abby Holman Public Service Award “in recognition of his leadership, effective outreach, and strong determination to insure a well-researched response to the impending spruce budworm infestation and also in honor of his exemplary career, which has been devoted to the protection and stewardship of Maine’s forests.” The Holman award recognizes outstanding service on behalf of Maine’s forest products industry. Read more.

Mike Dann of Dixmont, who worked for Seven Islands Land Co. for 36 years, was named Outstanding Forester “in recognition of an exceptional career in forestland stewardship, serving both small and large landowners in the State of Maine, and his dedication to promoting silviculture, research, education and the implementation of sound forest practices. Read more.

William A. Day Jr. and Sons of Porter was chosen as Outstanding Logger “in  recognition of exemplary performance on the ground and a commitment to meeting the management objectives of family forests owners through innovation, diversification and the ability to adapt to and embrace change in challenging times.” Read more.

Pat Sirois, Roberta Scruggs, Patrick Strauch and Sue McCarthy.

Strauch, Pat Sirois of SFI and Roberta Scruggs, communications director, presented a special plaque and their heartfelt thanks to MFPC office manager Sue McCarthy, in appreciation of her formidable skills and hard work, which are a tremendous asset for the staff, board and MFPC members. Members clearly agreed, because they gave her a standing ovation after the presentation

“Great tribute for Sue,” Don Tardie emailed later. “You’re the best team the Council has ever had.”

All in all, the 56th annual meeting is likely to be best remembered for its focus on our industry’s future.

“I thought it was a great meeting,” said Lynn Wing of Wing & Son Logging. “It was innovative and that’s what we need more of, that’s for sure.”

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