Today Ted speaks with Dave Farley, Director of U.S Program at BC Wood, a not-for-profit trade association that has represented British Columbia’s value-added wood products industry for over 25 years. BC Wood’s mandate is to assist BC’s secondary wood product manufacturers to grow faster by helping them access and exploit markets they would not otherwise enter.

The trade association is made up of approximately 300 wood product manufacturers. From start to finish, BC Wood deals with manufacturing CLT (cross-laminated timber) and mass timber products all the way to high-end finish products.

With 18 years of experience under his belt, Dave has seen a number of changes in the forest industry, from the perspective of both manufacturers and consumers.

For one, the “wood pile” is getting smaller for a number of reasons, including considerations around sustainability, logging, and the management of old growth (trees that are at least 200 years old).

Trends come and go, but as long as a manufacturer focuses on doubling down on the key strengths of wood (such as its ability to be manipulated in a wide variety of forms) while seeking to find innovative ways to buffer its weaknesses (such as its level of softness), that manufacturer will go far.

Finally, Dave speaks on the future of the wood industry. He says that there is a universal push to look beyond profit and implement initiatives such as finding solutions for sustainability and partnering with the First Nations.

Topics Discussed

  • [03:01] About BC Wood
  • [08:11] Soft woods versus hard woods
  • [10:35] Why the wood pile keeps getting smaller and smaller
  • [21:12] Dealing with ultra-high-end residential clients with termite problems
  • [28:26] Changes in trends around wood applications among clients over 18 years
  • [34:23] Competitive pressures faced by BC Wood today
  • [36:16] Dave’s wanderlust
  • [38:22] BC Wood’s overseas locations
  • [42:20] What Dave has learned from his travels
  • [48:59] The future of the wood industry
  • [52:04] The future of the trades

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Key Quotes from Episode

  • You’re seeing a systematic change in the forest industry as we move forward into the next few decades. The wood pile, as we call it, keeps getting smaller, and a lot of that has to do with issues around sustainability, logging, and old growth (the 200-year range depending on the species).
  • Fire treatment is going to become a big issue. Anything that can help in terms of treatment of product is going to have really good market opportunity. Finally, I think there is going to be really good market opportunity on thermally-modified wood.
  • If you can take the key strengths and the key elements of wood, including the ability to manipulate it in a variety of forms, and you combine that with the weaknesses of wood such as its softness, and create innovative products, we create value in the marketplace.

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