Major Supplier to Framers Becomes Latest Supporter of NFC
Originally published by: National Framers Council — January 23, 2018
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CJ Roberts, Weyerhaeuser’s high-density housing territory manager for the Northeast, looked at the sponsor list on the NFC website and noticed something he didn’t like. “These are good companies. Some of them are competitors. Some are companies that we work very closely with. Some of the companies are some of our larger customers. When I looked at this list, it was disappointing that Weyerhaeuser wasn’t on it!”
CJ quickly moved to fix that situation, and the NFC is delighted to welcome Weyerhaeuser as its newest non-framer member. CJ says that, for his part, he’s motivated by the chance to develop closer relationships with the framers and builders who actually use Weyerhaeuser products. “I work with all of the Weyerhaeuser territory managers as well as our distributors and dealers,” he says, and those are strong and valuable relationships. Still, they don’t provide “first-hand information about what we’re doing well and what we need to improve.”
With a product mix that includes engineered wood products, OSB, lumber and a wide variety of both commodity and premium products, Weyerhaeuser is already a major supplier for many NFC members. Even so, CJ says he sees “a fit for a lot of the products that we manufacture that aren’t being used – at least in my market – in a lot of the projects that the NFC is involved in today.”
For example, CJ’s eager to share the story behind one of Weyerhaeuser’s newest lumber products. “Framer Series™ has come from many years of smart folks at Weyerhaeuser looking at how we grow our trees right from the seedling,” CJ explains. Today, he says, they’ve cultivated “a tree that’s going to have characteristics that we want in a lumber product that framers would appreciate.” Specifically, he says, it’s a “warp-stable lumber,” a product he can promise will stay straight and that can save framers the labor, time and costs associated with replacing twisted studs and culling or repurposing boards. “You’re going to be able to use 99% [of the lumber you buy] for the use it was intended for,” CJ says. “There’s less waste, there’s more usage. You’re not having to have a supplier send you more boards. You’ve got a guaranteed product. To my knowledge, we’re the only company that can do this.”
Far from keeping the proprietary process under wraps, CJ is throwing open the doors to show exactly how it works, “from the forest floor, to the mill, to the finished project.” This spring, NFC members will have a chance to see newly planted seedlings, growing saplings, and 30-year-old trees nearly ready for harvest. “You can barely put your arms around these southern yellow pines!” CJ says. “They’re 70, 80 feet tall; they just go way up there! And they’re very straight trees.” The group will also witness the processing step: logs going into the mill, bark being peeled away, and the creation of a finished product. “It’s exciting to show something to folks who use a lot of wood, to show them something that’s different than anything they’ve ever seen before,” says CJ.
In fact, that kind of knowledge sharing is one of the things that drew CJ to the organization in the first place. “What’s exciting to me about the NFC is how the organization is putting standards and best practices around safety and other issues,” he says. The collaborative approach to responding to code changes, adopting new building techniques, and communicating with the world about current issues affecting the construction industry reflects well on everyone involved. “I’ve been impressed with everyone I’ve met,” he says. “From my vantage point, the organization elevates everyone. It gives credibility to all the companies involved.”
Being part of a positive, professional network is certainly what led CJ from a curious participant in a few NFC conversations to membership. He says he was particularly struck by the NFC’s push to standardize the industry’s approach to safety. “We all care about that,” he explains. Safety is a core value that the NFC and Weyerhaeuser share. “Safety comes first. It’s about doing the right thing: we want to make sure that the products are high quality, that they’re installed in these buildings safely, and being used correctly.”
Pursuing industry safety goals as a member of NFC helps build everyone’s reputation, says CJ, “because you’re sharing best practices” on everything from craning and nailing to PPE. “To me, it shows a professionalism to the framing and carpentry trades,” CJ says. “These are very successful, well-run companies that belong to the NFC. They’re the kinds of companies that Weyerhaeuser wants to do business with. I see more and more companies as well as more and more framing crews seeing NFC and saying, ‘I want to be part of that.’”
“Really,” CJ sums up, his decision to join NFC came down to the chance “to build relationships.” The people he sees attending NFC meetings and contributing to NFC projects are “very sound, savvy business people. They’re the folks we want to be affiliated with.” He says it’s both surprising and wonderful to see the networking happening through the organization. “Here’s competitors – you get them in a room, and there’s no, ‘geez, I lost that job to you,’ or ‘you out-bid me on that project.’ Instead, what I see is guys who are passionate about their craft and want to get better at what they’re doing.” That’s the kind of group, CJ says, that Weyerhaeuser is proud to support and eager to see grow. “We’re just getting started,” he says, “but I’d like to think this is something that’s going to propagate in other areas of the country. We’re excited about it.”