Almond named vice-chair of SFPA for 2015

By James Ronald Skains
Journal Correspondent

William Almond, co-owner of the Almond Brothers Lumber Company in Coushatta, Louisiana, was elected Vice-Chairman of the Southern Forest Products Association (SFPA) at its annual meeting in Charleston, South Carolina. The Almond Brothers Lumber Company has been an active member of SFPA for 15 years.

"We were members of the Southern Lumber Men Association for decades but when they moved away somewhat from marketing southern yellow pine lumber, we became more active in SFPA," Almond, a fourth generation family member to operate the sawmill at Coushatta, told the Piney Woods Journal. "To our company, membership in SFPA means an opportunity to network with individuals across the industry on not only how to improve our personal business, but to advance the entire lumber industry through marketing and education."

"On a daily basis, the promotion of the benefits of using southern yellow pine is the primary focus of the SFPA. The SFPA is well known for our Southern Forest Product Equipment show held on odd number years in Atlanta, but the daily operations of the SFPA is the promotion of Southern Yellow Pine. The strength and durability of Southern Yellow Pine lumber is what makes it popular around the world for framing lumber."

"Almond Brothers found out many years ago that Southern Yellow Pine Lumber makes an excellent finish material for paneling, doors, and casings because of its rich golden color," Almond explained. "In fact 95% of the lumber we produce here in Coushatta is exported to Europe and the Middle East to use in exposed beams and finish material."

"About 10 years ago, Europe was Almond Lumber's biggest market, but it crashed and we looked at the Middle Eastern Countries and found a big market there," Almond related. "Before the Arab Spring, Libya was a huge market for us. Libya has slowed down due to political unrest. However, we have picked up the slack in other middle eastern countries."

SFPA's mission is to advance the Southern Pine Lumber Industry, promote the use of member products in the domestic and international markets, and facilitate the exchange of information about Southern Pine lumber. Southern Pine lumber shipments in July totaled 1.435 billion board feet, 8% above June's revised shipments of 1.327 BBF. June was revised upward 2%. July year-to-date shipments totaled 9.234 BBF or 5% above the same period in 2013, and 9% above the same period in 2012. The seasonally adjusted annual rate for July is 16.330 BBF.

"Becoming Vice-Chairman of at this time is a real challenge," Almond acknowledged. "The housing market has not rebounded as we hoped here in the states. Worldwide, the markets are not as we would like, but you have to play with hand you are dealt."

"On the other hand, all the things coming out of the EPA greatly concerns everyone in the sawmill business in America. As Vice-Chairman of SFPA, my goal for the year is to make sure that we stay on top of everything affecting our industry. We have to be very diligent with the EPA with every regulation they propose as to the short-term and long-term effects on our industry."

"We must constantly market our Southern Yellow Pine lumber, both domestically and internationally," Almond, 62, elaborated. "Another program that SFPA is promoting is the use of raised wood foundations. A raised wood foundation with southern yellow pine is a very good investment for a homeowner."

"Not only is a raised foundation very strong, but it also helps with making repairs in later years with plumbing and electrical. SFPA studies also show that a raised foundation helps keep a house cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter months. Wood is a great insulator in keeping heat out in the summer and in the house in the winter months. The initial investment in a raised wood foundation may be a little more initially than concrete but long-term it has a very good return on investment."

"The recent change in span distances for Southern Yellow Pine was not something we were pleased to see, but again you have to play with the hand you are dealt with," Almond stated. "The span distance is more related to the span length of ceiling joist and rafters than anything else. In some instances, you will have to use a 2x8 instead of a 2x6 or a 2x10 or 2x12 that you have been able to use to meet previous industry standards."

The Almond Bothers Lumber Company website has this to say about the operation: "We are a family owned and operated southern yellow pine lumber manufacturer (producer) in the United States. This means we own and operate our saw-mill and produce our own products so that you receive consistent quality in our lumber from order to order. We specialize in exporting high quality, clear lumber to Europe, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Asia, Mexico, and many other parts around the world. We sell our products directly to our customers in all areas to save you time and money. Our products are used in furniture, windows, doors, molding, stairs, cabinets, flooring, and more.

The Almond family and sawmills date all the way back to the time of the American Civil War. Green Almond is earliest ancestor we can trace in the sawmill industry.

In 1909, leaving on a train from McBee, S.C., Richard Almond, 2nd generation lumberman moved his family to Coushatta, Louisiana and bought several thousand acres of the land.

In the early 1970's, the 5th generation of Almonds began permanent duty with the company after working summers from junior high through college. The 6th generation started working full-time with the company in 1996.

Now in the 21st century and over 125 years in the lumber industry, the Almonds always look toward the future, but never forget the past. We are proud of our ancestors and the dedication they had to their family and to themselves to provide a way of life for so many generations. As the future unfolds, we will continue to find new ways to preserve the tradition of good family and good business and keep the Almond name in the lumber industry for generations to come.

"One great properties of southern yellow pine is its ability to absorb the treatment process to make the lumber for use on outdoor structures," Almond pointed out. "Even with a treatment to enable the lumber to be used outdoors, southern yellow pine lumber retains its strength and durability."

"Here at Almond Lumber Company, we specialize in lumber from the butt cut of a log. When the overall lumber market slows down, it affects us because after getting the butt cut of a tree, the rest of the tree logs must find a market. If the market is slow, we get in less butt cut logs. We hope that the pellet industry will become viable in Louisiana to provide another market for the rest of the tree that we don't use in our manufacturing process. Right now, our major competitor for logs is plywood mills who are also interested in getting logs without a lot of knots and disfiguration."