Readers Respond: To FSC, or not to FSC?

After ProBuild advanced its FSC-certified lumberyard count to 59, HCN solicited comments on the FSC certification in general. Here's what we heard.

"I direct the FSC program at American Lumber, a lumber and building materials wholesaler in the Northeast. We keep FSC cedar, pine and fir specialties as well as hardwood plywood in inventory, as well as (when available) tropical hardwood decking.  In this category, there is excellent opportunity for FSC Chain of Custody dealers to identify and satisfy demand.

What I've seen is that there is a lot of demand from architects and municipalities for FSC-certified lumber, but this interest has often ended in disappointment.  For years it was true that FSC Certified material might be available only at a 20% premium or higher, plus freight from a remote location, and might not be readily available in the sizes and quantities desired.

But the state of play has changed a lot from just a couple of years ago. It is now possible to buy an enormous range of cedar and pine (at least) at a very moderate premium and immediately shippable from stock.  Our FSC business has been growing at 30% annually over the past two years and we expect growth to continue. While it does not make good business sense for most dealers to switch over large chunks of their inventory entirely to FSC or to carry dual inventories, with the right supply chain structure it is possible to satisfy architect, homeowner and government interest in FSC wood economically and swiftly. "

Joshua Kaye
American Lumber Co.

"We have had very little (practically none) inquiry for FSC certification of our wood products.  While we sell products from all producing regions in North American as well as from Chile and Argentina, we are in the South where the mills, if certified at all, favor SFI. As I’ve said many times when asked this same question, the forests in the South are well-managed.  The volume of production from these forests is greater than it ever was in the virgin timber days. Timber is looked upon as an investment and without proper management, the owners will be out of the timber business."

— Buddy Klumb
Klumb Lumber Co., Fairhope, Ala.

 "I do not know of any customers asking about any wood certification of any kind. If selling FSC lumber was the only way that I could sell lumber, I'd switch to plastic."

— Seth Arluck
New Hampton Lumber Co., New Hampton, N.Y.

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