Page 22 - Georgia Forestry - Issue 4 - Fall 2020
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today with COVID, we’ve talked custom- ers, we’re actually talking more about other things and a pending recession. They’re all talking about sustainability. It’s like it’s come up, the agenda, because of COVID. It’s like they think we’re going to have to live differently, and environ- ments are going to be more important to end consumers in the future.
Customers are giving us responsibil- ity they haven’t given us before. This is a great opportunity for all of us to become more of that sort of partner working with many of our customers or even our supply chain. They’re [relationships] built on trust and common values or facing a bit of a crisis. It does help build relationships, and it’s an opportunity for us to do that.
HB: We’re in a period of rapid social, political and economic change. What actions can we take now to ensure that the forest products industry is even stronger a year from
now and five years from now?
DS:I’d highlight three things. It starts with people. At the end of the day, you’re not going to be success- ful as a company or an industry if you don’t have the right people working for you. There’s a lot we can do and a lot we need to do to make sure that this is an attractive industry for people to come
and build a career.
There is a more intentional effort
that can be had around bringing more diversity into our industry and really across the board, but particularly into leadership roles. There’s still a lot we can do on helping all of the different players throughout the supply chain, you know, build up their people, whether that’s contractors, truck drivers, really across the entirety of the supply chain. And certainly once we get people into the industry, we all individually as companies and as an industry need to make sure that we’re continuing to invest in their development so that they can stay and build careers in the forest products industry.
The second thing is for all of us, we have to have strong end markets. Whether that’s more wood and building or more opportunities for fiber-based products, really across the gamut, that’s at the end of the day something we’re
“There’s a lot we can do and alotweneedtodotomake sure that this is an attractive industry for people to come and build a career.” — Devin Stockfish
going to need to continue to develop to make sure our industry stays strong.
The last thing is, it’s important to have a smart regulatory regime. And that really cuts across all facets, whether that’s trade policy, immigration policy, environmental policy, tax policy, all of those things are important if we want to continue to have a competitive industry both domestically and, for most of us, on the global stage as well.
SV:The other [thing] that comes to mind is innovation is going to be even more important as the world changes. We have the opportunity to grow demand for our business by bring- ing very innovative, creative people into the industry and innovating to meet our
customers’ needs.
CF: Education is one, learning is another one, and empowering is a third one. And of course they overlap. Educating people, including legislators, about our industry and the potential pit- falls and unintended consequences of what might sometimes be just well-in- tended kind of legislation. Product bans, recycling mandate — rather let the
markets take care of it.
Also, how important for the success of
this industry is free access to raw mate- rials, the free access to markets? The free access to, call it labor, the human capital, and really having good discus- sions around that.
Learning is staying really close and really understanding what the customers really want, not just what they say, but really how they behave. And servicing them and being the preferred alternative in our industry.
With all these new technology trends
coming, automation and so on and so forth, many of our people, especially in factories, are afraid about, what does this mean to me in the future? We have to empower them. We have to enable them. We have to continue working and gain the trust that if they’re willing to learn and they have the capability to learn, which really most people do, then there is a future for them, including in our industry.
MR:You’ve heard about the whole importance of customer basis, essential nature, etc., and we can come out of this with stronger relationships and a greater understanding of the value that we can provide. But we do have to work with our communities, and our
communities include the legislators. And here we are seeing, again, it’s an opportunity for us to demonstrate the value, and we’ve done a lot of good work, but we’re going to have to do a lot more... to get the support of that commu- nity and the NGOs and the government behind our industry, and there’s more we have to do there. More about market- ing ourselves, but also some of the way we work. More inclusion, more [ability] to demonstrate how we’re solving the problems that are faced by society, not just in the product, but just generally. But that’s where we are; we’re putting more effort [behind that]. We are no different than other industries, but we’ve just got to earn that right every day in the eyes of the communities. We’ve got to earn the right to carry on the success that we’ve enjoyed, carry on developing, growing the business. And we can do it. We’ve got some great, great, great stories to tell, and some people in the industry, we can

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