Wood Supply Research Institute 2017 Challenges, Opportunities and Reflections

by Steve Carruth, WSRI Executive Director
WSRI just held its 19th annual meeting in Charleston, South Carolina. WSRI celebrates its longevity, its long list of projects seeking to expose opportunities for efficiency in the supply chain and the personal industry connections they help to facilitate. Even as WSRI celebrates, they’re still taking the steps to make sure they remain relevant and effective going forward. Here is a summary of what occurred at the annual meeting and what’s on WSRI’s docket in the months to come.

On May 1, the executive committee met for three hours prior to the main business meeting. Incoming Chairman Brad Fuller, of Huber, joined in as rotating chairman and Crad Jaynes, of South Carolina Timber Producers Association, led the meeting. The executive committee has been stepping up its activity in an effort to streamline the WSRI decision processes and better direct the organization. The committee now schedules four regular conference calls per year.

First on the executive committee’s agenda was new projects. Defining relevant research for funding can be difficult. Despite general agreement that there are plenty of wood supply system challenges and opportunities, turning these realizations into research projects that appeal to the full membership is difficult. In addition, being manageable and affordable with a reasonable time frame for completion is easier said than done. After identifying a number of pressing topic areas, the executive committee set the following research project agenda:

  • Task the WSRI Technical Team with presenting at least one well-defined project to the board by September 1.
  • Formally and immediately solicit project ideas from all WSRI members.
  • Invite organizations that perform research and analysis to submit ideas.
Since the annual meeting, efforts have begun on all of the above.

Next, the executive committee dove into a discussion of WSRI structure, mission and finances. A plan was set to develop a new formal 5-year strategic plan. Plans were also made to meet with the Forest Resources Association to revisit the FRA/WSRI relationship with a focus on streamlining and strengthening our collective efforts.

The annual business meeting began promptly at 1 p.m. The board approved all agenda items and instructed the executive committee to proceed with all of its proposed initiatives. Fuller accepted the chairman’s gavel from Jaynes as according to term provisions in the WSRI bylaws. Chris Becklean (IP) rotated into the technical team’s chairman seat, replacing Sean Bennett of Broad Arrow. New members Louisiana-Pacific, Domtar, Forestry Mutual and the Carolina Loggers Association were welcomed. (Minutes of the meeting have now been approved and circulated.)

Four presentations followed the business meeting. Shawn Baker, of Forisk, summarized their final report on “Compensation Indices for Logging and Trucking Occupations.” Jo Daniel, of Auburn, briefed the group on their work, exploring the utilization of phone application technology to record log truck movements in the southeastern U.S. Henry Quesada, of Virginia Tech, gave an update on a project WSRI is currently funding: “Applying Value-Streamed Mapping to the Wood Fiber Supply Chain: Impacts on Lead Time, Cost and Customer Service.” In addition, David New, of Growing Excellence, presented “A Hauling Logistics Pilot Plan to Enhance the Strength and Vitality of the Nation’s Timber Hauling / Harvesting Network.” Copies of all presentations are available on the WSRI website: wsri.org.

In conversations with current and prospective members, it’s clear that the value proposition of participating in an organization like WSRI is something that’s always under review. Value derives from producing a worthwhile product. In WSRI’s case that end product is information, but the value comes when the information sparks action. The potential to act is predominantly in the hands of the members. Sometimes WSRI projects present information that members can take action on as individuals within the supply chain niche they occupy. However, many of the efficiency opportunities WSRI investigates require two or more links in the supply chain to cooperatively act on the information produced. The mission of WSRI has always been to provide an opportunity for that to occur within the context of legal business practices. With the renewed energy from their 19th annual meeting, WSRI continues its effort to provide that opportunity.