Setting Direction for 2019

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The 2019 Hardwood Federation (HF) Board of Directors and Hardwood Federation PAC (HFPAC) Board of Directors recently held their annual meetings in Washington, D.C. As always, it was a packed few days of discussion, networking, and strategic planning for the federation and our boards.

The first order of business was the introduction of the members of the 2019 Board of Directors and HFPAC Board of Directors. The Federation Board provides strategic direction for advocacy priorities and outreach efforts as well as budget oversight and other administrative functions. The HFPAC Board is instrumental in helping to raise political action committee (PAC) dollars to support congressional allies and to identify those to consider providing with financial support. This group is vital to our efforts on behalf of the industry, and we rely heavily on their insight and guidance.

I am pleased to announce that our 2019 Board of Directors President is Rick Holden of Derr Flooring in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. Rick is a Past-Chair of the NWFA and has great insight into multiple facets of the industry. He will be ably supported by incoming Vice President Matthew Smith of Smith Creek in Borden, Indiana. Joining Rick on the Hardwood Federation Board is Don Finkell of American OEM Wood Floors in Burns, Tennessee. Don has led both the NWFA and the Hardwood Federation Board and also brings great experience to the organization.

The HFPAC Board is also being chaired by a former leader of the NWFA, Tommy Maxwell of Maxwell Hardwood Flooring in Monticello, Arkansas. Tommy is almost as passionate about political engagement as he is about hardwood floors, and we are excited he has agreed to this final term as our HFPAC Board President. Serving as HFPAC Board Vice President is Bob Miller of Frank Miller Lumber headquartered in Union City, Indiana, an equally enthusiastic supporter of the Federation. The NWFA’s second representative on the HFPAC Board is Dan Natkin of Mannington Mills based in Salem, New Jersey. Dan has been very engaged in advocacy outreach and a long-time participant in our annual Fly-In to Washington, D.C. and is a great addition to our PAC Board.

The Hardwood Federation is very grateful for the NWFA’s tremendous support and engagement with the Federation. We very much look forward to working with your delegates to our boards and to our continued cooperative engagements with the NWFA.

The primary focus of the February meeting is to set the direction and priorities of the Federation for the coming year. After considering our 2018 advocacy activity in Washington, D.C., the anticipated administration agenda, and the responses to the annual Hardwood Federation Priority Policy Survey, the Hardwood Federation and Hardwood Federation PAC Boards discussed and set a course of action for 2019. Of course, the ever-changing world of politics and policy can shift some of this course, but to have a sense of direction at the start of every year greatly helps the Hardwood Federation staff provide the best possible assistance to the hardwood industry.

In 2019, the top issues reported by the survey mostly fell in line with anticipated priorities: regulatory reform, federal forest management, tax reform, trade, and innovative wood products. Following these were issues that the Federation will continue to monitor throughout the year including funding government programs that enhance exports, export markets, the Lacey Act, biomass, immigration reform, and the Endangered Species Act. The Board also recommended a focus on transportation issues – with special regard to trucking – and other infrastructure issues that may have the potential to move in a now-divided Congress.

These are not new topics for the Federation, but the level of importance placed on them by those who responded to the survey is a clear mandate for us. Congress will continue to hear from us about why it is important that the right decisions are made when considering reform measures in these areas and why the wrong decisions can devastate our industry.

The Hardwood Federation Board of Directors also was briefed on the long-awaited Hardwood Economic Impact study (covered in the April/May edition of this magazine) and did some strategic thinking about how the Federation can and should grow and adapt in response to the increasingly rapid pace of news, communications, and their impacts on the policymaking process.

The Hardwood Federation was established as a coordinating body within the industry to represent common interests on federal policy in Washington, D.C., a mandate I am proud to continue. The economic impact study project is an example of how the industry can work to identify unifying goals, gather supportive industry and association leaders, jointly develop solutions, and deliver a result that has far-reaching value beyond one company or one organization. Federation Board Members are clear that the Federation is to embrace similar opportunities that will facilitate our efforts on behalf of the industry on Capitol Hill, a directive I fully support.

I look forward to continuing to work with all the wonderful members of the hardwood community to identify future ways to serve the industry in this manner. And I look forward to working with the NWFA Board, staff, and representatives to the Hardwood Federation to successfully fulfill our mission.

Dana Lee Cole is Executive Director at the Hardwood Federation, a Washington, D.C.-based hardwood industry trade association that represents thousands of hardwood businesses in every state in the U.S. and acts as the industry’s advocacy voice on Capitol Hill. She can be reached at dana.cole@hardwoodfederation.com.

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