How softwood lumber producers gained an additional $2.4 billion in revenue

In the early 2000s, softwood lumber producers found themselves in a nearly two-decade long erosion of market share. Steel and concrete were aggressively eating away at markets and customers long dominated by softwood lumber. The only response from the softwood lumber industry was a series of fragmented efforts.
ABOVE: In April 2020, The Softwood Lumber Board reported 1,539 projects were converted from steel or concrete to wood, thanks to the collective effort of SLB-funded programs and initiatives. (Image Courtesy Softwood Lumber Board)

Softwood industry leaders determined that a checkoff program would benefit of the industry and was the best path forward to drive preference and demand for their products. And while some producers opposed the checkoff, it was overwhelmingly approved by a majority of producers in 2011. In 2018, producers had the opportunity to vote again on continuing the Softwood Lumber Checkoff, with 78% of those participating, representing 94% of the volume of softwood lumber represented in the referendum, voting yes.

What has the checkoff meant for softwood lumber producers? Since the Softwood Lumber Board began funding checkoff programs in 2012, the industry has experienced 6.3 bbf of new demand and an incremental $2.4 billion of revenue. Efforts funded by the checkoff include Wood Works, an effort designed to expand softwood lumber in commercial and multi-family construction. The campaign targets architects, developers, engineers, and commercial and residential contractors, building interest and intent to specify wood. The checkoff also funds Think Wood, a campaign that provides commercial, multifamily and single-family home design and build resources to architects, developers, and contractors.

Research is another priority for the Softwood Lumber Checkoff, designed to drive innovation and increase use of softwood. One of the current research priorities focuses on diversification into new markets, including mid-rise and tall buildings, and positioning softwood as the superior building product.

Year over year, the softwood lumber industry is real-time proof of the effectiveness and power that comes when producers work together to advance their industry and product.