2021 CFPB report: Letter from the Director

Hello from your Center,

It has been 18 months since the pandemic hit us and changed our world forever. Often when I traveled in Asia I would see people wearing masks for what I thought was no reason. Today it is common place everywhere, and I no longer think about why. Somehow our industry has managed to do well during these unprecedented times. We saw record softwood prices and many hardwood species did very well this past year. The housing market continues to be very strong and is predicted to continue to grow. Exports are down and imports are down. We all are getting fatigued of various lockdowns and the daily reminder of how many people are sick, or what small business in our neighbored had to close its doors due to Covid-19. Yet, the economy keeps plugging away behind all the masks. The positive side of this is businesses are finding new ways to satisfy customer needs which will help them in the future and new businesses are being created that will serve us better after this pandemic has passed.

Another year has passed and we welcomed 140+ students back in late August. Many of you have hired them for summer internships. When we visit with you, internships are one of the major factors’ employers are looking for when they hire new permanent workers. Our job fairs have gone on-line in the spring and fall, so if you want to participate, please let me know. There is no substitute for good experiences in your mills or offices. We again thank you for helping our students gather this valuable experience.

Dr. Henry Quesada and I visited a number of your companies in August to see how we could better serve you and identify the issues we should be focusing on for our training of students. As you know, finding qualified employees is one of the largest issues our industry faces. That is why the Center was stared in 1992 and have provided hundreds of students to you over the years. The comments for educational needs from the partners we visited included communication skills, team building, data analysis, positive attitude, personal initiative and technical knowledge. We attempt to include these skills in our classes, but I am the first to admit, it is difficult to change attitudes and work ethics of eighteen to twenty-year students. You will have to continue to reinforce these values regularly as you hire new employees.

 I want to thank you for your continued support of our programs. I hope you will contact us with your needs for employees or summer interns. Many of our classes have projects and if you need a short specific project investigated, please contact me and I will see if we can work it into a class. Please feel free to contact me with any comments or suggestions to improve the program (rsmith4@vt.edu). Again, thanks for your support of our students and I wish you a successful year.


Bob Smith

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