MAR-APR 2018

Crossties is published for users and producers of treated wood crossties.

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RTA EVENT CALENDAR CONTACT US RTA EVENT CALENDAR CONTACT US ADVERTISE Stella-Jones Corp. Railway Tie Association Wheeler Lumber Nisus Corporation MiTek Industries CROSSTIES • MARCH/APRIL 2018 15 SAWMILL FOCUS The Hardwood Manufacturers' Confer- ence (HMA) has become a must-attend event for not only RTA but also for sev- eral RTA sawmill, producer and supplier members. It's just the right size to engage the hardwood community with quality discussions and presentations. One of the hot topics discussed was the impact of hardwood saw log exports to China. Hardwood Review's Dan Meyer noted in their survey of sawmills that prices paid are 25-50 percent higher than mills can afford to pay. Anecdotal infor- mation gathered supported the overall view that log inventories were thin. One tie mill owner told the story of losing "all" of his latest timber bids to entities servicing the export market. In his presentation, ITR Economics' Dr. Alan Beaulieu said that leading indi- cators suggested a slowdown in the rate of growth heading into 2019. However, ITR's forecast for 2020-2030 suggested many good days are ahead for the U.S. economy. This year, several hardwood association executive directors gathered to discuss timely cooperative projects. The most intriguing of these is a proposed economic impact study for the entire hardwood industry. The project would be designed with an objective to provide analysis to allow the hardwoods associations and their members to better articulate the value of the hardwood industry and its economic impact on the nation, certain states and selected congressional districts. Never has this been more important than in the environment that now exists in Washing- ton. Partisan politics in Washington affect many things negatively, but when clear needs are identifiable, there are often bipartisan outcomes such as the 45G tax credit for short line railroad infrastructure investment (see separate article Page 8). It is in that spirit that many hardwood associations look to cooperatively fund work to develop impact analysis that will help forge bipartisan support when the hardwood industry petitions legislators to recognize challenges and needs of the hardwood sawmill community. After this meeting, the RTA Board signaled to staff its willingness to participate in such a cooperative effort with appropriate fund- ing should other hardwood associations follow suit. Interestingly, there is another rail indus- try supply network cooperative economic impact proposal the RTA Board is also studying. If both analyses proceed, RTA could leverage the data in much the same way as RTA's economic work for 45G has been used to help build powerful mes- sages to present to congressional leaders in the future. An impressive mix of hardwood indus- try stakeholders convened in Greenville, S.C., March 21-23, for the Hardwood Manufacturers Association (HMA) 2018 National Conference and Expo. The con- fab, designed around the question, "What's your ROR," successfully provided a host of events, business sessions, and network- ing opportunities to assist all conference participants in evaluating their "Return on Relationships." Open to all industry stakeholders, the 2 ½-day event included an Industry Expo, several networking receptions and presen- tations. Presentations addressed member company upgrades and problem solving, legislative issues, hardwood cross laminated timber, cybersecurity and physical security, staffing and labor issues, economic issues, and domestic and international hardwood lumber trends, among other topics. Additionally, HMA's NextGen Leaders Council hosted a reception for next gen- eration conference attendees and others interested in mingling with this group of enthusiastic future leaders. More info: Or, contact HMA Executive Vice President Linda Jovanovich, (412) 244-0440, What's Your ROR (Return On Relationships)? Special To Crossties from Hardwood Manufacturers Association Commentary By Jim Gauntt, RTA Executive Director HMA Conference Is A Must-Attend Event For RTA Members

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