Domestic Hardwood Promotion: Now is the Time

An Interview with Dana Lee Cole of the Hardwood Federation
and the Real American Hardwood Promotion Coalition

The U.S. hardwood industry is facing significant change driven by a variety of factors, including stiff competition from wood look-alike products, relentless misleading campaigns about the sustainability of wood commodities, and a slowing world economy.

Industry leaders are proactively looking for ways to fight back against the perfect storm of challenges facing hard-wood producers. Many have come to the same conclusion: Now is the time to negate the rise of competing products, the spread of disinformation by the environmental community, and information overload.

The industry has a powerful story to tell. One of the beauty and desirability of hardwood products, the history of the industry, the small family business focus, the sustainability of the raw material, and the environmental and health benefits of using hardwood. Yet, we have not been successful in developing a coordinated and collaborative domestic initiative to effectively tell this story and communicate the science-based benefits of real hardwood products. This has allowed competitors and adversaries to frame public opinion and gain the advantage.

In response, two dozen hardwood trade associations, including the National Hardwood Lumber Association, have come together to form the Real American Hardwood Promotion Coalition (RAHPC). By bonding all of the hardwood associations and their members together, the Coalition’s goals are to raise public awareness of the benefits of real hardwood and to increase markets. Effective hardwood promotion will educate consumers about the benefits of hardwoods, generate new products, increase sales, and improve industry stability.

The Coalition is developing a clear, concise, and accurate messaging that underscores the value and creates a desire for real hardwood. Dana Lee Cole, the Executive Director of the Hardwood Federation – and one of the founders of the American Hardwood Promotion Coalition, sat down with us to discuss the new Coalition.

Q: Aside from helping the hardwood industry thrive, are there any other benefits for associations or businesses to join the American Hardwood Promotion Coalition?

Dana Lee Cole: Yes! First, members get to be part of the RAHPC conversation…the overriding desire of those that first started thinking about how we could develop a promotion effort, was that ALL hard-wood groups, organizations, and associations felt that they had a place at the table and a chance to have input. Other benefits include:

  • Access to members-only data and information as developed through Coalition research and branding phases.
  • Regular updates on Coalition activities, research results, and strategic planning proposals.
  • Invitations to participate in all Coalition general meetings and phone calls.
  • Invitations and encouragement to participate in promotional activities (once developed from research and branding phases).
  • The ability to move from Membership status to Leadership status.
Q: Speaking of leadership, who can become a board member of RAHPC?
Dana Lee Cole: Coalition Members that contribute financially at the recommended level to Coalition programs are eligible to participate on the RAHPC Board. Association executive staff (CEO, Executive Directors, Executive VPs, etc.) will be members of the Board.



Q: How many associations are currently involved?
Dana Lee Cole: Over two dozen groups and associations have participated in the first two organizing sessions of the Coalition. More than 20 Associations have pledged funding for the first phases of research and brand development. We have reached out to many more and hope to quickly grow the Coalition in 2020