Maine’s Forest Products Industry Is Not Dead

Secondary-Wood-Manufacturing-in-Maine Maine’s forest products industry is not dead, and you don’t have to take my word for it. An excellent report on our state’s secondary wood manufacturing economy is now available.

The subtitle of the report says it all: $1.8 billion industry is ‘almost invisible.’ The first article, by Roberta Scruggs, Communications Director for the Maine Forest Products Council, is especially informative. Here’s one thing I read in Roberta’s report that surprised me:

“Maine has the strongest secondary manufacturing of all the Northern New England states by far,” said Dave Redmond, director of Wood Products Initiatives at the Northern Forest Center. “Several wood products businesses during the recession went out of business, but the remaining businesses were stronger and were able to pick up the pieces and move forward.”

Good to know. A study of Maine’s secondary wood manufacturing industry by MFPC and folks at UMaine found “the total impact was 8,884 jobs and $1.8 billion in 2014, about 20% of the forest products industry’s $10.2 billion 2014 impact.”

Roberta’s excellent article includes many “lessons learned,” including the fact that our secondary wood processors could not compete on low-end products, and to compete with imports, “companies need documented quality control, proximity to markets, and must sharpen the pencil at both ends.”

This report includes lots more, from an articles about wood imported and exported (Maine, China, Canada) to answering the question “Has white birch bolted from Maine markets?”

At the end of the report you’ll find a partial list of Maine’s secondary woods product manufacturers, including my friends at Robbins Lumber Company in Searsmont. A photo on the back page shows one of the youngest Robbins clan in front of one of their products. Adorable!

You can access and read this entire report here.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.