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Northern Research Station
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726
(608) 231-9318
(608) 231-9544 TTY/TDD

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Sustaining Forests

Market Analysis in Support of the Appalachian Wood Products Industry


Research Issue

[photo:] : A variety of different wood products and wooden parts being manufactured in the United States, which may be used domestically or shipped to foreign markets.Like most industries, wood products companies face many challenges arising from changes in the broader economic environment. For example, the health of housing markets has major consequences for the wood products industry. Furthermore, globalization of wood products manufacturing is having dramatic effects on some sectors of the domestic wood products industry. Employment in the U.S. wood furniture industry has dropped dramatically as a result of globalization, with the industry having lost 72% of its workforce from 2001 to 2016. On the other hand, exports of hardwood lumber reached a record in 2017 and represent a major market for U.S. hardwoods. We track and convey to our customers housing, demographic, and economic trends and information to support their efforts in evaluating the impacts of market conditions on their operations. We collect information on technology trends and consumer social media use to provide our customers with new ways to improve company visibility and attract new clients, and we help wood products manufacturers in the United States to sustain their competitive position in the global economy. Doing so helps maintain and create jobs, often in rural communities, and provide the economic incentives to sustainably manage U.S. forests.

Our Research

We conduct research to address questions from our clients on issues related to current economic conditions. Typical issues addressed include: macroeconomic trends including interest rates, GDP, inflation, consumer confidence, and employment; demographics; housing statistics including starts, inventory, home sales, and home prices. We also assess the competitive positions of U.S. wood products companies and discern strategies that can help firms remain profitable. Many of our clients either manufacture wood products – hardwood and softwood lumber, furniture, flooring, kitchen cabinets – or advise such clients (consultants, state utilization and marketing foresters to name a few). We provide insight, analysis, and information that help our clients successfully navigate an increasingly difficult business climate, and thus remain profitable, which is a key component for sustainable forestry.

 Expected Outcomes

This information is distributed directly to the forest products industry, state forestry agencies, utilization foresters, consultants, and others involved in planning production and making decisions about future directions and markets. This technology transfer includes publications in trade journals, refereed journals, workshops, web casts, and more formal presentations at industry meetings and professional gatherings. We know from feedback that this information is quite helpful to clients in their quest to better understand demand for wood products and the impacts of housing and global market volatility on their businesses.

Research Results

Bumgardner, M.; Buehlmann, U.; Koenig, K. 2017. Housing’s impact on wood products sales. FDMC. July:50,52,54.

Buehlmann, U.; Bumgardner, M; Alderman, D. 2017. Recent developments in U.S. hardwood lumber markets and linkages to the domestic home building industry. Current Forestry Reports. 3(3):213-222.

Bumgardner, M.; Buehlmann, U.; Espinoza, O. 2017. U.S. secondary wood manufacturers are becoming larger – are there implications for hardwood sawmills? Pages 91-96 in V. Möttönen and E. Heinonen, eds. Proceedings, ISCHP 2017: 6th International Scientific Conference on Hardwood Processing. 326 pp.

Montague, Iris; Gazal, Kathryn Arano; Wiedenbeck, Jan; Shepherd, Jean-Gabriel 2016. Forest Products Industry in a Digital Age: A Look at E-Commerce and Social Media. Forest Products Journal. 66(1-2): 49-57. https://doi.org/10.13073/FPJ-D-14-00104.

Gazal, Kathryn; Montague, Iris; Poudel, Rajendra; Wiedenbeck, Jan 2016. Forest products industry in a digital age: Factors affecting social media adoption. Forest Products Journal. 66(5-6): 343-353. https://doi.org/10.13073/FPJ-D-15-00007.

Bumgardner, M.; Bowe, S.; Luppold, W. 2016. Are there regional differences in U.S. hardwood product exports? Forest Products Journal. 66(3/4):140-146.

Luppold, W.; Bumgardner, M. 2016. US hardwood lumber consumption and international trade from 1991 to 2014. Wood and Fiber Science. 48(3):162-170.

Alderman, D. 2016. United States Housing, 2013. Research Note, FPL-RN-0340. Madison, WI. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory. 23 p.

Bumgardner, M.; Buehlmann, U. 2015. To what do firms attribute success? An application of attribution theory to the secondary woodworking industry. Wood and Fiber Science. 47(1):44-49.

Alderman, D. 2015. Housing and construction. In: UNECE/FAO Forest Products Annual Market Review 2014-2015, Chapter 11. 13 pp.

Bumgardner, M.S.; Buehlmann, U.; Schuler, A.T.; Koenig, K.M. 2014. Impacts of construction markets on firm performance and behaviors in the secondary woodworking industry, 2010-2013. Pages 312-321 In Proceedings, 19th Central Hardwood Forest Conference; 2014 March 10-12; Carbondale, IL. General Technical Report NRS-P-142. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station.

Bumgardner, M.S.; Graham, G.W.; Goebel, P.C.; Romig, R.L. 2011. How clustering dynamics influence lumber utilization patterns in the Amish-based furniture industry in Ohio. Journal of Forestry. 109(2):74-81.

Bumgardner, M.; Buehlmann, U.; Schuler, A; Crissey, J. 2011. Competitive actions of small firms in a declining market. Journal of Small Business Management. 49(4):578-598.

Research Participants

Principal Investigators

  • Delton Alderman, USDA-Forest Service Northern Research Station and Forest Products Laboratory – Research Forest Products Technologist
  • Matt Bumgardner, USDA-Forest Service Northern Research Station - Research Forest Products Technologist
  • Iris Montague, USDA-Forest Service Northern Research Station – Research Forester

Research Partners

  • Scott Bowe, University of Wisconsin
  • Urs Buehlmann, Virginia Tech
  • Omar Espinoza, University of Minnesota
  • Karen Koenig, Woodworking Network
  • Bill Luppold, USDA-Forest Service, Northern Research Station – Economist
  • USDA-Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory

Last Modified: 06/13/2018