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Southern Pine Industry Navigating Bright Future

In terms of durability and value, treated southern pine remains the material of choice for professional deck builders and the DIY trade.

With home building and remodeling activity in high gear once again, lumber manufacturers throughout the Southeast are sustaining high levels of production. For the seventh consecutive year, annual production volume of southern pine lumber increased, reaching just over 17 billion bd. ft. And robust production levels continue this year.

With that level of output, promising opportunities exist for lumber dealers. And the Southern Forest Products Association is at the ready to help them boost their sales—services the organization has provided since it was founded more than a hundred years ago. As an industry-wide representative of southern pine producers large and small, the SFPA membership knows what it takes to make a sale, and a preference for durable, versatile materials generates abundant resources for those selling their products.

Online: A Southern Pine World
Do you have a product need to round out your inventory? Do you need to adjust your product mix to suit demand in your growing market? SFPA’s online Product Locator can steer dealers to manufacturers in their state. Search the Product Locator at SouthernPine.com and select from some 400 products. Sizes and lengths, grades, even packaging preferences are here. Find a producer and get connected with the right sales contact. It’s that simple.
SFPA members regularly adjust their product listings to satisfy market demand. Need a quantity of southern pine materials ASAP? The Lumber Purchase Inquiry space right on the homepage of SouthernPine.com is your one-stop spot for getting quotes from interested mills. Also on the homepage is a handy board footage calculator, a convenient tool for dealers needing to quickly total up orders and quotes or the yard’s inventory.

Once a dealer’s inventory matches the market, some helpful product facts and tools to educate the sales team are often the next order of business. SFPA provides a comprehensive online Lumber Library of publications filled with the needed numbers and details. Every month, SFPA records nearly 10,000 downloads of materials from SouthernPine.com—46 span tables for joists and rafters, design values, construction tips, specification guidelines and much more. Detailed construction guides explain building in marine environments, proper connections for headers and beams, as well installation and finishing tips for southern pine flooring. It’s all here.

SP Spans: All in the Cards
SFPA provides handy pocket span cards that dealers can provide to their pro customers. One card contains 12 span tables for common visual and mechanical grades under different loading conditions. Another card has a trio of tables for treated southern pine lumber used in floor joists, ideal for the professional deck builder’s tool box. Dealers can order a supply of the cards from the Publications page of SouthernPine.com.

Treated SP Performs
When building outdoors, there’s no better construction material than pressure-treated southern pine lumber, in terms of strength, durability and value. New standards from the American Wood Protection Association that became effective last year are providing more clarification on the proper uses of treated lumber.
SFPA has long promoted the use of Ground Contact-treated lumber, assuring long-term performance for applications where high moisture and decay conditions exist in and around an outdoor structure. There remain appropriate uses for lumber treated to Above Ground retention levels, and dealers need to know where to draw the line, educating customers to purchase the proper retention for its intended use.

Dealers can depend on publications from SFPA to educate their salespeople. Its 24-page booklet, Pressure-Treated Southern Pine, explains the standards, provides simplified specification guidelines, and includes tips on suitable fasteners and finishes. Here’s a ready reference to keep at the counter; a free PDF download is available at SouthernPine.com. SFPA staffers work to keep the tables updated so that the latest information is available online.

Proper deck construction techniques may very well be the most frequently asked question at the lumberyard. SFPA can help. Start with ideas found in the pages of Southern Pine Decks & Porches, a booklet of designs and construction steps. Product selection, joist and beam span tables, plus nailing schedules for the surface decking—everything needed to get a successful project up and running.

Time to reapply a water repellent sealer? This booklet explains the “splash test” to see if it’s time to maintain the deck surface. Here’s another collection of answers for your customers’ questions. Keep a copy handy; it’s also available as a free PDF download from SouthernPine.com.

Waterfront projects—docks, piers, and bulkheads—can generate orders for large quantities of pressure treated southern pine. SFPA’s comprehensive Marine Construction Guide covers every step of the process, offering design details and specification tables for selecting the right treated materials for the job. Pedestrian bridges and elevated walkways are also addressed. This guide provides construction guidelines for building in fresh water, brackish and salt water environments. When the dealer gets a quote request, this guide can be very helpful in selecting the right lumber for the project.

SP Patterns are Special Indoors
At the recent national convention of the American Institute of Architects, designers were clamoring for more information about southern pine flooring and other interior patterns. Beyond flooring, interior wood surfaces continue to be a hot decorating trend. Southern pine specialty patterns fill the bill.

The most popular? Southern pine’s 1×4 tongue-and-groove double-beaded ceiling material can do double-duty for any retailer: stock one SKU of C&Better grade, available in a variety of lengths, and this item can be installed as decorative wainscoting in a bathroom or kitchen, even a ceiling in the family room. Turn it over and this 5/8” or 3/4”-inch-thick T&G product transforms into a flooring material. The beaded pattern cut becomes the needed stress relief for a quality floor. Dealers discovered this product’s versatility years ago and it remains a staple of many yards.

Need installation help? SFPA’s booklet Southern Pine Flooring covers product selection, installation, finishing and maintenance details.

Thinking interior wall coverings? Southern pine patterns provide exceptional service for this application, too. Indoors, the distinctive grain of southern pine shines through clear or semi-transparent finishes, adding warmth and beauty to any décor. SFPA offers product details in its booklet Southern Pine Patterns. Both the flooring and patterns guides are available as a free PDF download at SouthernPine.com.

Dealers Find Visuals Online
Got a deadline for your next summer promotion? Want to refresh your website? SFPA can help. The online Media Center on SouthernPine.com includes an Image Gallery of available photos that can be used to both explain your business and support lumber sales. Images can be downloaded in both low and high resolutions, ideal for web uses and press-ready files.

Perhaps you need to explain your business at the next Rotary or Kiwanis meeting, the local vo-tech school, or some civic organization. Images of SP forests, home construction, and various products to help tell your story are just a few mouse clicks away.

SFPA: Southern Pine’s Social Influencer
Social media plays a vital role in building knowledge of SFPA members’ products and engaging southern pine audiences. This is the first time in history that people from all over the world can communicate over multiple mediums in a single moment. This year, SFPA has initiated steps to embrace the ever-changing digital world and take advantage of the marketing tool that is social media.
SFPA is considered the social influencer of SP materials. The association uses its platforms on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube to connect with fans. SFPA’s goal is to deliver the latest information and to also reinforce the benefits of using southern pine as a building product through educational videos and DIY posts. Dealers can connect with SFPA by following the association on Twitter, @Southern_Pine; and Instagram, @SouthernPineLumber. Newsletters and notices of new or updated publications are posted regularly; southern pine enthusiasts are encouraged to sign-up for the SFPA newsletter at www.sfpa.com/newsletter.

More than three dozen videos are available on SFPA’s YouTube channel: southernpinelumber. These videos offer educational tools focused on raised wood floor constructions and lumber grading, just to name a few. Case studies and instructional videos offer demonstrations of installing southern pine flooring and building a porch—valuable tools for educating the sales team.

SP Serves the World
The world is hungry for southern pine. And manufacturers are seeing unprecedented opportunities for exports. Exports of SP lumber have nearly doubled in the past five years, reaching a record in 2016 of over 685 million bd. ft., valued at $413 million. During 2016, the top three destinations for southern pine exports were China, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico.
While Europe and the Caribbean Basin region remain important and steady markets, SFPA members are seeing strong growth in China and promising new emerging markets in Southeast Asia and South America. While total U.S. softwood lumber exports were flat in 2016, southern pine lumber exports actually increased by 11%.

Southern pine’s inherent advantages are attractive selling points: the highest density of all common softwood materials, providing superior fastener-holding ability and a load-bearing capacity similar to other American softwoods. Other advantages worth promoting are SP’s long span capability for framing joists, as well as clear, fine-grained material for joinery applications such as paneling, door frames, windows, flooring and furniture.

Through cooperative activities backed by funding from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, SFPA staff and members participate in international trade fairs, trade missions, and educational seminars, with the goal to introduce southern pine products to new and growing markets around the globe.

An Industry Partner
The southern pine industry benefits from sponsored campaigns aimed at creating a preference for wood use in a wide range of applications. Since 2011, the Softwood Lumber Board has promoted the value, sustainability and durability of wood materials. Its reTHINK WOOD campaign aims to increase the demand for wood in multi-family, light commercial and nonresidential structures, including multi-story projects using the latest innovations in building techniques.

The Wood, Naturally program targets the residential market, educating homeowners about the benefits of using wood for its appearance, energy efficiency and long service life. Southern pine information, videos, publications and images are generously featured within these two campaigns, delivering more helpful resources dealers can relay to their customers. The online content is updated regularly, providing a steady stream of information and inspiring project ideas.

Launching a Second Century
SFPA’s member mills produce nearly half of all southern pine lumber. The association was founded back in 1915 as the Southern Pine Association with the simple motto of “Service.” Today, members stand at the ready to provide the quality products your customers want. SFPA remains at the forefront of delivering the information and sales tools dealers need to sell more lumber.

 

RICHARD WALLACE & ERIN GRAHAM

RICHARD WALLACE & ERIN GRAHAM, SOUTHERN FOREST PRODUCTS ASSOCIATION Complete details about SFPA, its activities, and many resources are available at www.SFPA.org.

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