LUFKIN, TEXAS – Mark Luetters, Executive Vice President of Building Products for Georgia-Pacific LLC, addressed the future of the forest products industry during the Texas Forestry Association’s 100th annual meeting, Wednesday morning, Oct. 22, 2014.
“There are significant housing uncertainties moving forward,” Luetters said. He pointed toward an unclear immigration impact, poor labor force participation and poor quality of new jobs. In the housing sector, home sizes appear stable despite the predictions for smaller homes.
On the supply side of the chain, Luetters indicated uncertainties in this future depends on the availability of land and the willingness of builders to speculate with subdivisions, as well as the availability of skilled laborers that include plumbers, electricians, millwrights, and the logging industry.
The future Luetters projected is a growing demand for wood to meet proposed housing growth and a vacancy left by the devasting effects of the mountain pine beetle infestation in British Columbia, Canada.
“[Our] strategy for the next three to five years is to profitably gain share in our primary products as housing recovers,” Luetters said, adding that the key focus will be on lumber, gypsum, OSB and plywood.
There are five strengths to help achieve this goal that Luetters outlined: capital availability to debottleneck currently operating plants, an emphasis on investing in process and product innovation, the ability to restart idled capacity, the ability and willingness to continue to acquire capacity, and a long term approach that allows action before the need is apparent to the market.
Luetters addressed an audience gathered to hear about the current outlook on the timber industry, as well as its future from leaders in the industry. The meeting is part of the Texas Forestry Association’s 100th year as the voice of forestry during the anniversary celebration, Oct. 21-23, 2014.