The real American hardwood promotion coalition
The Real American Hardwood Promotion Coalition (RAHPC) is a voluntary industry-wide domestic promotion initiative developed by industry associations and directed by their executive directors.
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 products, a slowing world economy, and the ongoing U.S. trade war with China.
While the industry has a powerful story to tell, beautiful and desirable products, a small family business focus, sustainability of our raw materials, and environmental and health benefits of hardwoods, our industry has not yet been successful in developing a coordinated and collaborative domestic initiative to effectively tell this story and communicate the science-based benefits of real American hardwood products.
How did the RAHPC start?
In early 2019, a small group of hardwood association executives, energized by the success of their joint effort on the Hardwood Economic Impact Study, came together to brainstorm ideas and approaches for a voluntary industry-wide promotion initiative. One top priority – transparency – and moving forward in a way that engages all members of the hardwood community. Receiving input and recognizing the differences of the many industry segments is essential to develop a clear, concise, and overarching brand statement that can be echoed throughout the supply chain.
What are the goals & objectives?
- Establish a unified hardwood promotion program directed at domestic consumers, specifiers, educators, influencers, and end-users with a launch date of spring 2020.
- Bring other association executives to the table and build on the enthusiasm that has been generated thus far.
- Continue to identify steps and deliverables vital in developing a coordinated and collaborative initiative to promote the true story and science-based benefits of real American hardwoods. A successful program will:
- Educate consumers and raise public awareness to the benefits of real American hardwood;
- Generate new products;
- Increase markets and sales;
- Improve industry stability.
Who leads the Coalition?
There are 30+ executives of hardwood industry organizations and associations – local, state, regional, and national, no matter the size – who have been invited to further the conversation, establish consensus, develop an action plan, and move forward with implementation.
The focus is to capitalize on the expertise and skillfulness of the many hardwood association executives who manage diverse priorities and expectations on a daily basis. Broad participation from every industry segment is vital to develop the overarching brand statement. To date, 24 organizations from flooring, moulding, cabinetry, veneer, and industrial market segments have come forward to participate, agreeing to pool funds and finance at least the first two phases of work. Going forward, once a solid foundation is established, the effort will be expanded to welcome individuals and hardwood businesses.
How will the Coalition develop a promotion program?
Promotion means different things to different people. The Coalition has decided the key components to a successful program include Advocacy, Research & Development, Marketing, and Education.
- Collect Data: Review existing data; identify missing data regarding consumer attitudes towards hardwood products; identify the unknown. The coalition will work with a vetted research firm to collect significant data from consumers, architects, builders, designers, educators, and industry associates on buying habits, key influencers, little known (un)truths about hardwood products, and the environmental favor they hold versus other materials.
- Develop a Brand: Engage a firm specializing in brand acceleration to utilize the research results to develop the over-arching brand statement and identify the most effective go-to-market road map. This will hopefully include strategic efforts that can be implemented at little or low cost. A priority of both phases will be to keep industry association leaders aligned and engaged.
- Implementation: Identify feasible tactics and move forward, continually evaluating and adjusting.
- Education: The Coalition is developing a database of post-secondary programs related to forestry, sustainability, and wood as a primary building material. Association and industry leaders can search for opportunities to present and educate the building and design influencers of the future about the benefits of sourcing hardwoods for finished goods, construction, and industrial applications.
- March 4-5: Ohio Forestry Association, Columbus, OH
- March 19: Central Hardwood Conference, Charleston, WV
- March 25-26: Hardwood Manufacturers Association, Nashville, TN
- April 7-8: Kentucky Forest Industries Association, Louisville, KY
- April 29: National Wood Flooring Association, Milwaukee, WI
- May 19: Keystone Wood Products Association, Mifflinsburg, PA
- Sept. 24: NHLA Convention & Exhibit Showcase, Louisville, KY
If you would like to become an active part of the Coalition, support the initiative financially, or have questions, please reach out via email to [email protected].