August 22 – 25, 2018

Georgia World Congress Center | Atlanta, GA| USA

Overview of Market, Employment,
and Investment Trends in the U.S.
Woodworking Industry

Thursday, August 25th from 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM 

Session Code: BMG5

Location: B301 (located in Building B - Level 3)

Presented by: Virginia Tech

Speaker: Urs Buehlmann, Professor: Virginia Tech; Matt Bumgardner, Research Forest Product Technologist: U.S. Forest Service; Karen Koenig, Editor: Woodworking Network; William Luppold, Economist/Project Leader: U.S. Forest Service

This presentation will draw on the results of several recent studies to describe economic and business trends in the U.S. woodworking industry, with a focus on employment and planned investments. The industry has experienced increased sales volume as of late, moving off steep declines in 2007-2008 associated with the housing crisis and the Great Recession. Planned investment activities are picking up for larger firms, but uncertainty remains for smaller firms. Advertising/marketing communications was the most important investment area for small firms out of the 14 investment areas investigated (third-most important for large firms), and sales force expansion/development was the most important investment area for large firms. Overall, lower value sectors (pallets) have realized net employment gains since 2009. Conversely, employment in higher value sectors has improved since 2012 but remains below 2009 levels. Some implications for upstream suppliers also will be discussed based on recent studies of the U.S. hardwood lumber industry.

About the Speakers:  




Urs Buehlmann: Professor, Virginia Tech Department of Sustainable Biomaterials, focuses on manufacturing systems and on assessing industry competitiveness. Urs has given special focus to the impact of foreign competition on the wood products industry and its relationship with the U.S. housing market. He practices and promotes Lean Principles as a way to improve business results.

Urs has more than 15 years of experience working in industry, including serving as General Manager of Enkeboll Designs, Carson CA.




Matt Bumgardner is a Research Scientist with the U.S. Forest Service, Northern Research Station, where he has worked from offices in Princeton, WV and Delaware, OH for over 15 years. Prior to joining the Forest Service, he worked in the plywood industry in Texas. He holds a PhD in Forest Products Marketing from Virginia Tech, as well as degrees in Forestry and Policy from Ohio State. In his current position, Matt carries out primary and secondary research dealing with various aspects of hardwood markets and economics. He publishes numerous articles in scientific and trade outlets to bring research results to practitioners.




Karen Koenig has more than 25 years of experience in the woodworking industry, including visits to wood products manufacturing facilities throughout North America, Europe and Asia. As Editor of special publications under the Woodworking Network brand, including the Red Book Best Practices resource guide and website, Karen’s responsibilities include writing, editing and coordinating of editorial content . She is also a contributor to FDMC and other Woodworking Network online and print media owned by CCI Media.




William Luppold has been analyzing hardwood product markets for 38 years. Over his career he has conducted research on domestic and international hardwood product consumption, production and price; changes in the U.S. hardwood timber resource; and how markets influence forest composition.