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Brent-Easy Button

The Power of Free Trade Impacts Industry

Brent J. McClendon, CAE, Executive Vice President, International Wood Products AssociationBrent J. McClendon, CAE
Executive Vice President
International Wood Products Association

Just an “Easy Button” Away

As an association executive it’s my job to make sure the organization is relevant and valuable to our members. That requires me to have an understanding of changes taking place in the market environment and make adjustments to our strategy where warranted. A classic example is the latest edition of IWPA’s magazine and sourcing guide. With this edition, Imported Wood became International Wood. What’s in a name? Why the change?

We're all in this together...

A major reason for the change was to acknowledge the realties of trade in wood products. In our inter-connected world, wood isn’t necessarily a direct export-to-import relationship. Take a look at how U.S. manufacturers can use an extended supply chain to differentiate their products: Cherry is exported from the U.S. to China where it is layed up with a Birch core from Russia and then re-exported back to the United States for further manufacturing into a kitchen cabinet in Virginia. Eastern Maple is sent to Brazil where it is matched with Mahogany and is used to manufacture wall paneling for a California inn. Almost every story in the current International Wood reports on combined and complementary use of exotic species with domestic hardwoods and softwoods. IWPA continuously seeks to unify industry associations and work closely with them for the benefit of all of our collective members. The publication's name change reflects that reality.

It’s the economy…

There was another reality that was bearing down on IWPA for this year – the economy. I approached this year’s publishing cycle with a bit of apprehension due to the economy. It is understandable that companies would be frugal with their advertising dollars in a downturn. Wood product companies know the strong return on investment from advertising, but at the same time are trying to protect themselves and their employees so every expense is scrutinized. I am happy to report that our members and non-member advertisers saw bottom line value in investing in International Wood and our advertising numbers stayed strong. As one member said, “IWPA is my outsourced staff. International Wood is our PR/marketing office, the IWPA PAC runs our government affairs office, and the convention helps take care of our supplier and customer relations. I view membership and advertising with IWPA as a core part of our cost saving strategy.” Almost universally when we survey our members about what they value, they come back and give us their version of “ It’s the economy stupid” by saying “ Save us money, grow our business and defend our interests in D.C.”

Serving changing markets… in new ways

IWPA members understand that in these challenging times consumers of wood products are really doing their homework. These consumers view associations and their publications as screening tools that help them identify quality, ethical suppliers. We’re finding they are increasingly turning to our online searchable membership directory and our print and online versions of International Wood. IWPA’s digital presence is growing by leaps and bounds as a result. But don’t forget the basics The magazine and association serve as a platform to educate architects, designers, manufacturers, distributors and consumers on the sourcing of wood, forestry practices and trade in international wood. There is much good news about our industry that goes without notice. IWPA is the voice that gets this information to the audiences that most need to hear it through legislative outreach, events and resources.

Join us!

Our members view their annual convention, scheduled for April 28-30 in Miami Beach, much the same way – it is their educational, networking and public relations event all rolled into one. So, to borrow a phase, when you think of membership in IWPA, think of it as your “easy button.” We’re here to staff and serve an industry that we’re proud to represent. Visit to see the dynamic web portal we’ve created. Welcome aboard.

Import/Export Wood Purchasing News - October/November 2009

Industry Information

IWPA publishes information on the U.S. imported woods industry and works closely with organizations that can provide market information, trade data and technical assistance. A few include:

  • IWPA Grading Rules: Internationally recognized product standards of IWPA are technical guidelines of  principal types, grades and other requirements for imported wood products.
  • Wood Species Library: Technical data on domestic, imported, and lesser-known species from the U.S. Forest Products Lab.
  • U.S. Import Statistics: U.S. import statistics for both hardwood and softwood products.

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