An Examination of Appalachian Forest Products Exports
The primary goal of this study was to identify value added export opportunities for the hardwood products manufacturing industry. By studying current industry practices and trends, we can better understand the opportunities hardwood lumber businesses have exploited in the past and could do so today. The study found that opportunities exist for businesses with the right initial mindset preparing them for exporting, the proper equipment, and the appropriate educational experience.
Surveys of hardwood lumber manufacturers in 1989 and 2002 addressed similar objectives and helped better understand export participation of hardwood lumber manufacturers in the Appalachian Region. The objectives of this research project included determining current export experience, access and use of export development programs, key export markets, and mill production, marketing, equipment, personnel and other attributes of the region's hardwood lumber industry. Other objectives included determining if any significant changes in the region's hardwood industry had occurred, and in particular, what was mill export market experience in the past 15 years. The key was to identify key factors that lead to export marketing participation.
This study showed that export market participation is growing as forest sector businesses consolidated during this period. Businesses were found to seek assistance from multiple government agencies, trade associations, and most importantly from their customers. While the largest export market continues to be Canada, little information is available on other businesses purchasing Appalachian hardwood lumber, indicating the need for more research on markets and their size. Important species for exporting are red oak, yellow-poplar, white oak, and maple, and higher grades of hardwood lumber continue to be the top three. Owning a kiln is essential to exporting, and having an above average size marketing staff was found to be helpful. The most important attribute of exporters is an open-minded management that sees the benefits of exporting.