June 15. 2011. Blacksburg, VA. The title of this article reflects the opinion of one of the participants of the workshop “International Marketing for Forest Products Industries” held on June 14, 2011 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
According to the attendees, this workshop was an excellent training opportunity for primary and secondary wood products manufacturers to understand the basic principles of international marketing. The first sessions were delivered by Drs. Robert Smith and Henry Quesada from the Center for Forest Products Business (CFPB) at Virginia Tech and covered marketing principles and factors affecting today’s supply chains. The following two presentations were delivered by Mike Snow from the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) and Joel Stopha with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS). These sessions informed the audience on the current export statistics of the hardwood sector and main guidelines and tips to engage in international selling. Also Scott Lyon, a graduate research assistant working for the CFPB, disseminated results of his research on market opportunities for forest products firms in the Central American Market. Participants also learned about the export credit insurance program, a presentation delivered by John Strayhorn.
As Mike Snow, Executive Director of AHEC, indicated that “exports activities are a great opportunity for wood products firms to increase their competitiveness”. Factors that favor the exports of US wood products to other countries are the sustainability of our forest, the high quality of our hardwoods and softwoods, and the increasing purchasing power of the middle class in countries such as India, China and United Arab Emirates (UAE) as mentioned by Joel Stopha from VDACS. Although engaging in exporting activities is not simple, “for many Appalachian wood products the development of customers in international markets has been very rewarding and in some cases the only reason why they are still in business”, according to Dr. Robert Smith, Professor of Marketing and Associated Dean of Engagement of the College of Natural Resources and Environment (CNRE) at Virginia Tech.
Overall the workshop’s attendees ranked the event as useful, practical, and presented at the right level. This event was funded through the Federal State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP) at the US Department of Agriculture. The facilities and infrastructure were provided by Charles Becker from the Virginia Department of Forestry.