Sharing industry, technology for decades

Founded in 1914 as the Southern Pine Association, the Southern Forest Products Association (SFPA) is a nonprofit trade association of southern pine lumber manufacturers, pressure-treaters, distributors, exporters and associated businesses throughout North America.

With 18 member lumber companies operating 75 sawmills and 108 associate members in affiliated businesses, SFPA’s members account for more than half of the southern pine lumber produced in the United States. The association’s two primary roles include lumber product promotion and sponsoring the Forest Products Machinery & Equipment Exposition (EXPO).

Southern pine lumber manufacturers maintained their upward annual volume trend in 2018, reaching nearly 19 billion board feet. Coordinating with allied trade associations, including the Southeastern Lumber Manufacturer’s Association and APA — The Engineered Wood Association, SFPA continues to expand global markets. International shipments of southern pine lumber totaled $488 million in 2018, topping a record 851 million board feet.

As the prime resource for southern pine product information, overseas buyers leverage SFPA’s educational programs and product literature to amplify southern pine lumber sales. While mature markets in Europe and the Caribbean remain important, the association is centered on connecting to emerging markets in Southeast Asia, South America, Central America, Pakistan and India. Unprecedented growth of exports to these new markets indicate opportunities exist for long-term expansion.

In addition to discovering new connections and market opportunities, SFPA sponsors and produces a biennial trade event for the sawmill industry. Since the first EXPO in 1950, the industry has reunited to connect with colleagues by exploring new and exciting machines, processes and technological improvements.

In the late 1940s, America was booming in the postwar economy and nearly 1,500 southern pine sawmills were producing 9.4 billion board feet of lumber annually to sustain the growing housing need. Leaders from across the southern lumber manufacturing region grasped the housing boom’s significance, realizing the need to improve mechanical efficiencies. The concept of an industry-wide trade exposition germinated from a series of association meetings focused on mechanical efficiency. One of the first instances of EXPO’s importance originated with the widespread implementation of ring debarkers. After a devastating fire in 1939 destroyed the Southern Lumber sawmill in Warren, Arkansas, new general manager W. R. Warner began building a state-of-the-art sawmill that would stand as the new model of sawmilling for the southern pine lumber industry.

In reviewing the equipment displayed at the first EXPO and comparing sawmill operations from around the world, Southern Lumber decided to install a revolutionary debarking machine to improve the sawmill’s efficiency. Up until this point, large log debarking was a manufacturing development confined to the Pacific Coast. However, Southern Lumber realized the opportunities of preparing logs for more efficient sawing, reducing labor costs and preventing accidents.

On February 26, 1952, almost two years after