Expanding Export Markets for U.S. Softwood Products
Helping industry organizations establish and grow sales around the world
In the final months of 2017, SEC hosted two groups of incoming delegates from Mexico and Thailand. The Mexican representatives visited Seattle before attending the NAWLA Traders Market in Chicago, and shortly thereafter we hosted the Thai group in Portland for a comprehensive tour of the softwood industry in Oregon & Washington. While appealing to different markets, both of these missions focused on innovation at the mill and in construction, highlighting sustainability, efficiency, and the symbiotic relationship of these two properties.
These tours are at the heart of SEC's mission: to build relationships through more personal outreach. Hosting delegates is a strategic way to get importers from different markets to begin thinking about American softwoods, first because of the connection we've built, and finally because of the quality of our wood and the examples we have illustrated by examining creative end-uses. In demonstrating how and why the U.S. consumes wood, we join others to our cause, as our sites speak for themselves: wood is transformed for visitors into an exciting material that brings light and warmth into corporate spaces, character into homes, and carries enormous long-term benefits for the health of our planet.
To prepare these inbound missions, our itineraries are carefully crafted to exhibit a holistic system that allows a burgeoning market to understand the advantages of American softwoods, and what it would take to replicate our best-practices. Our itinerary for the Thais is a great example: it included tours of a forest, multiple mills, a CLT exhibition, and construction sites that exemplified the possibilities of mass timber, while also demonstrating the opportunities for efficiency in construction that wood can provide. Likewise, our Mexican delegates visited finished sites where mass timber meets sustainability in public and corporate spaces. The seminars we arrange are supplementary, offering an opportunity to delve deeper and ask questions about what the visiting groups have seen. This technical training privileges structural lumber and construction sectors: when you teach people how to build with wood, they buy wood. And, of course, we include networking opportunities for our members, and exposure to our industry.
There are upcoming inbound missions planned for 2018 that will use these same systems-based tenets. A delegation from China in January will focus on mass timber engineering systems, while an incoming Pakistani group in July will focus on sourcing. Ensuring our programs meet the needs of the markets they're designed to inform is crucial, as these are countries in different stages of development. Pakistan is an early-market distribution area, while China has the infrastructure to handle mass timber and will be excited about the opportunities U.S. softwood can bring their growing skyline.