2018 Annual Report of the Center for Forest Products Business

Dear Colleagues:

Dr. Robert Smith, Director the Center for Forest Products Business

It is hard to believe that another year has gone by and I am here wondering again what to share with you about the Center.  Three months ago, we graduated 40 students from our program and some of them are now working in your companies. Our department’s undergraduate program has grown to nearly 200 students, and it is probably the largest in the country.  We believe the changes we have made in recent years regarding our undergraduate degrees and our name change are starting to attract a broader range of students to our profession.  I have often told students that our program is the applied field of business, engineering, physics, or chemistry to our natural resources and wood.  Whether it is the student who has a business interest and wants to go into international marketing or the student who has an engineering interest and wants to lean up your mill, our undergraduate program allows students to apply these disciplines to wood products. We remain committed to providing the best marketing, manufacturing, and business education in forest products in North America.  Our goal remains to attract and train good students who can help your companies compete in this changing world marketplace.

I have now completed six years as the department head.  It is nice being back in the department with my colleagues and directing such a successful endeavor.  We are fortunate to have some of the leading scientists in our field working in the department. I want to thank those of you who took time to visit us this past year and spend time with our students.  Your interest and experience help us demonstrate the great opportunities that exist for careers in wood products.  Students always comment on how they love to hear from our industry partners. Your internships, scholarships and job opportunities demonstrate the partnership that is needed to help us attract and train your future employees. If you would like to visit the department and speak with our students, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Your center has had a good year.  Our faculty accomplishments are listed later in this report. We awarded over $25,000 of scholarships in 2017 and will award nearly that amount again in 2018. Your donations make this possible and allow us to better train our students for this changing wood products industry. We have updated our website to provide more information, so please visit us at http://www.cfpb.vt.edu    I thank you for your continued support of our center. If there is anything I can do, please feel free to contact me at 540-231-7679 or rsmith4@vt.edu.

Follow this link to download the full report.


FSMIP/USDA project report on wooden social housing in Latin America

By Henry Quesada, quesada@vt.edu

A wooden social home in Costa Rica made with Southern Yellow Pine (SYP) imported from the United States.

Sustainable housing is one of the fundamental necessities for socio-economic development. Yet a considerable population of the developing world is living in substandard houses. On the other hand, developed countries like the United States have substantially improved the residential construction sector by engineering new materials and developing efficient systems.

This study attempts to link this supply capacity of the system built wood construction sector in the United States to urban low-income housing markets in the Latin-American region. Expansion to new markets and diversification to new products can rejuvenate this industry in the U.S. Linking the manufacturer with potential buyers overseas would need efficient production, logistics and marketing systems. This research is focused on product development for bottom-of-the pyramid buyers to give them an affordable yet sustainable alternative to traditional systems. Interviews and survey tools were used to assess key aspects of housing deficits in target demographics of the South and Central American regions. System built wood construction manufacturers in the U.S. were assessed to identify barriers and incentives for internationalization and how they differ from exporting to non-exporting manufacturers within the same industry. Findings indicate that developing products for social housing programs can provide access to potential untapped markets. Lack of existing wood construction in some of the selected markets indicates the possibility of resistance to acceptance but also assures no local competition. The learnings can also contribute to opening of new markets for exports of prefabricated wooden buildings in other housing sectors.

Click here to download the full report.