WoodWeek – 7 February 2018

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Greetings from your WoodWeek news team. Excellent news this week for workers, our industry and the Gisborne economy with confirmation of a successful buyer for the sawmill operations there. Activate Tairawhiti and Eastland Community Trust have jointly announced the sale of Prime Sawmill to New Zealand-owned Far East Sawmill. The company also owns Tregoweth Sawmill in Te Kuiti, forests in Northland as well as harvesting and transport companies.

While commentators are downplaying the hiccup this week in equity markets, the only breather that we can see for log markets is the holidays associated with Chinese New Year later this month. The holiday period in China starts on a different date each year because it is based on the lunar calendar. New Year's Day normally falls between January 21 and February 20. The Lunar New Year will start on 16 February lasting until early March. In China, people get a week off, but celebrations can last much longer than that.

Looking to our export report for logs from New Zealand:
1. Logs to China > Year-on-year trade value is up 29 percent. Dec 2017 up 48 percent on Dec 2016;
2. Logs to South Korea > Year-on-year up 1 percent. Dec 2017 up 8 percent on Dec 2016;
3. Logs to India > Year-on-year up 1 percent. Dec 2017 up 1 percent on Dec 2016;
4. Total log export values > Year-on-year up 21 percent. Dec 2017 up 42 percent on Dec 2016;

On the subject of getting our wood products to market this week we focus on the upcoming wood products freight and logistics conference coming in mid-June to Rotorua and Melbourne. It's the flagship biennial event for the freight and logistics sector. Several international speakers from Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Canada, Sweden and Estonia have already been confirmed.

“We are drawing strong interest from speakers, including some international ones,” says FIEA Director, Brent Apthorp. “Two years ago, our Woodflow conferences attracted over 250 operations managers, harvesting contractors, wood transport operators and planners from both sides of the Tasman”.

In British Columbia next month, Innovatek will launch ForestTECHX, a new international forest management technology conference. ForestTECHX is set to bring all of the latest inventory and harvest planning technologies from around the world to Vancouver in early March.

With technology speeds improving constantly, professional foresters and operations managers need to keep pace with the changes. To build the conference we worked with early adopters in BC. Our focus group wanted an international speaker showcase. So, we’ve got an international 'who's-who’ of leaders in forestry metrics in our speaker line-up for this conference.

Registrations are looking good as we've had a great response from delegates including chief technology officers, forest managers, operations managers and GIS specialists at many of the leading Canada forest companies. Canadian licencees and private forest land managers stand to gain a lot from the experienced panel of international experts who have come together for this ‘new-to-BC’ conference.

ForestTECHX conference runs on 6-7th March at the Executive Airport Plaza Hotel in Richmond, BC. To register or for more information go to foresttechx.events.

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ECT: New mill operation means jobs for Gisborne

Activate Tairawhiti and Eastland Community Trust have jointly announced the sale of Prime Sawmill to New Zealand-owned Far East Sawmill, guaranteeing the creation of between 50 and 60 jobs at the Prime Wood Processing Centre of Excellence by April 2018.

Even more encouraging, Far East Sawmill is already in direct discussions with Juken over staff recruitment.

Eastland Community Trust chairman, Michael Muir, says the sale signals a new era for the Prime site.

“We are delighted to welcome Far East Sawmill to Tairawhiti. We’re thrilled to have such a respected operator on-site, and that we can go some way to saving local jobs.

“This is a massive win for our community. And it must be said – there is no way we could have done this without the foresight of the community in establishing the Eastland Community Trust with a mandate to focus on the region’s economic growth,” he says.

Eastland Community Trust CEO, Gavin Murphy, agreed stating “the region should be proud it has the resources to deliver these sorts of results.”

Far East Sawmill is a subsidiary of Spectrum and is a fully integrated forest products business. The company owns the Tregoweth Sawmill in Te Kuiti, forests in Northland, a forestry harvest company and a transport fleet.

Managing director, Wade Glass, considers the investment in Prime and the Tairawhiti region a strategic one, citing log supply, skilled labour and a proactive business network as contributing to their decision.

“We’re excited to enter a region with such a supportive and well-resourced economic development capability. We’re optimistic that our proposed improvements to the mill will result in a sustainable business and employment for locals,” he says.

The company intends to employ up to 60 staff to produce around 60,000 m3 of timber per annum, and will likely invest a further $9 million in the sawmill, initially upgrading ageing technology to improve efficiencies. Ultimately, Mr Glass says it is the company’s goal to run multiple shifts, eventually employing up to 100 staff.

Far East Sawmill will be replicating the product mix from their existing mill in Te Kuiti, targeting high-value appearance grade lumber for export to European and USA markets. They will also partner with secondary processors who intend to incorporate their processing into, or adjacent to, the mill site in Gisborne.

Though the sawmill itself is sold, Eastland Community Trust still retains ownership of all the land (22 hectares) and can now move forward with its phased masterplan, unlocking further jobs on site and improving the value of the region’s forestry stocks.

Activate Tairawhiti chairman, John Rae, says the organisation is excited about the next steps.

Mr Rae confirmed Activate Tairawhiti is in advanced discussions with a second wood processor interested in establishing its business at Prime. He says securing an operator for the sawmill will now fast-track those conversations and, he expects, others.

This is the second investment at the Prime site with the Wood Engineering business on the same site currently employing 15 staff and working to prove up its technology.

“Until ECT and Activate Tairawhiti got involved, Prime lay dormant. But, thanks to the hard work of our team and the contractors on site over the past 18 months, we are continuing to realise the potential of the wood processing centre of excellence as a strategic community asset.”

Source: Activate Tairawhiti / Eastland Community Trust

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Champion Freight Export Reports

Thanks to the great team at Champion Freight we've got the latest export market activity update for you in a series of really self-explanatory charts. They have some easy-to-read labels on the charts so they are readily identifiable even when printed in black & white.

To download the full report, click here.

Source: Champion Freight

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Scrutiny of Burnie mill subsidy timing

Tasmanian election: Timing of Liberals' north-west mill deal under scrutiny - The Tasmanian Liberals have defended their decision to approve a $13 million forestry grant in their final days of government and announce it on the state election campaign trail.

The Liberal Government signed a deal last week providing the Victorian timber company Hermal Group with $13 million, plus a $30 million loan, to build its new hardwood mill in Burnie.

The mill will process plantation timber supplied by Forico and turn it into cross- laminated panels, commonly used in the construction industry.

Hermal expects the mill to be operational by 2020, creating 160 jobs in construction and more than 200 jobs in operation.

Premier Will Hodgman said the Government was keen to secure the economic benefits of the $190 million project before entering caretaker mode last Sunday.

More >>

Source: ABC News

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Woodflow Logistics Conference: International appeal

The Woodflow Logistics Conference series in coming June is Australasia’s premier technology event for forestry, wood products, transport and logistics companies. It's the flagship biennial event for the freight and logistics sector from Forest Industry Engineering Association (FIEA). Several international speakers from Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Canada, Sweden and Estonia have already been confirmed.

With over 30% of delivered log costs in transport, the conference is a showcase for the latest technologies for moving wood from the forest through log yards, processing plants, ports and on to markets.

“We are drawing strong interest from speakers, including some international ones,” says FIEA Director, Brent Apthorp. “Two years ago, our Woodflow conferences attracted over 250 operations managers, harvesting contractors, wood transport operators and planners from both sides of the Tasman”.

The event also demonstrates new initiatives and operating practices being employed by our most innovate people in leading companies to improve planning, logistics & operations within the wood supply chain.

“The June 2018 event is going to be building on the success, momentum and feedback provided by industry from these last two events” says Brent Apthorp. “Mark the dates, 20-21 June, Melbourne, Australia and 26-27 June, Rotorua, New Zealand into your diaries”.

“Our key themes this year are innovations in log scaling, measurement and tracking” says Mr Apthorp. “Both vision and scanning technologies for volumetric measurement of logs and woodchips have been evaluated. We’ll be hearing from the company installing the first 3D laser measurement system in Australasia to measure the solid volume of logs on truck".

We’ll also be getting an update on progress being made on an Australian code of practice for volumetric measurement of logs through scanning and a European company will be profiling their system that they've developed for measuring and reporting stacked log volumes using a smartphone app”.

Exhibition booths are being snapped up too. To secure your space, contact [email protected].

FIEA has also confirmed an additional workshop on transport planning has been added to both countries for event delegates. Discussions are also underway for at least one more workshop to add value to those coming through to either venue in mid-June.

Event information and early programme details for both countries can be found at www.woodflow.events

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Forestry trainer highlights misunderstandings

The mainstream media often use sensationalism to get stories read online ahead of the facts. However, last week a Toi-Ohomai tutor received some good coverage when he sought to reveal that the public and prospective new workers don't understand how highly developed safety systems are in forest workplaces.

Here is a bit of what he said that was well-reported:
One of New Zealand's biggest industries is facing a boom, but skilled workers are thin on the ground.

Forestry experts in Marlborough say the industry has been branded with an undeserved reputation for poor safety practices; putting potential employees off signing up.

Toi-Ohomai Institute of Technology tutor and former forestry worker Jason Gillespie says technological advances and better safety procedures have helped make the sector safer than ever before.

And he says the industry is in desperate need of skilled workers as it faces a boom in business.

"Most people have no idea what's involved and health and safety is very different to what it used to be; it's the most important part of what we do. If everyone follows the procedures that are in place then there wouldn't be any problem."

"These days, no-one is allowed in the forest without a radio, everyone has one ... each site does extensive training in escape routes. All our students are taught about safety," says the Blenheim-based trainer.

More >>

Source: Stuff businessday

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Vale Shane McMahon

Many people throughout our industry have expressed their sadness on hearing that Shane McMahon passed away in Australia last Thursday (1 February) after losing his battle with cancer. His funeral service was held in Trafalgar, Victoria, Australia on Monday.

For the past 6 years Shane had worked as the cable logging & H&S manager for Daryl Hutton at ANC Forestry in Victoria. He was well-known throughout the forest industry as many people came in contact with him when he worked in environmental management at LIRO back in 1990’s. He did ground breaking research developing tools for measuring site and soil disturbance.

In Putaruru, NZ, he did work beyond the forest industry as a consultant in his own right. Never one to blow his own trumpet, he was universally well-known and highly regarded for his work ethic, brilliant insight and clarity of thought in tackling industry challenges, especially technical ones.

When Shane moved into cable harvest planning he earned a reputation as a leader in this field as well. For many years he led the technical reviews for the industry- wide yarder tower inspector scheme. He authored many best practice guides, technical studies and research reports that were regarded as industry standard reference documents for years.

He was also a keen sportsman, cyclist and outdoorsman. On behalf of everyone in the Australian and New Zealand forest industries our condolences go out to his wife, Raewyn and their two sons.

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Forest Enterprises leadership change

Forest Enterprises' director Steve Wilton has initiated the latest stage of the company’s succession plan by handing the leadership to his fellow directors. Wilton is taking on the new role of Special Projects Director, retiring from his responsibilities as Managing Director.

Forestry Director Bert Hughes takes up the helm as CEO in addition to his forestry responsibilities. Graeme Tindall has been appointed Managed Investments Director, assuming much of Wilton’s investment related responsibilities.

Forest Enterprises’ priority is to accelerate the planning necessary to ensure the profitable harvest of their investor’s forests and secure the future for the investments. The new role means Wilton will be dedicated to the specialist work required to implement these plans over the next eight months to 1 October.

Wilton describes it as a triple-win saying, “This restructure fulfills all my ambitions for the company, as well as for my own retirement, and ensures that our Investors’ interests remain the paramount focus, now and in the future.”

Hughes added, “Steve followed company founder Charles Wallis as a pioneer of the retail forestry investment business, and built the enterprise we have today. Having Steve so focussed on our business growth plans is of huge value to us and our clients. He has left us big shoes to fill, but I speak for all the shareholders when I say how confident I am of our plan and our people.”

From 1 October 2018, Steve will be appointed the non-executive Chair of Forest Enterprises Growth Limited (the parent company of the business) in which role he plans to be active for some years.

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Further measures to protect Kauri

Further measures to protect kauri - Three measures that will strengthen efforts to save kauri trees from dieback disease were agreed by the Kauri Dieback Governance Group when they met yesterday.

It was agreed to put in place:
· a Controlled Area Notice for kauri dieback
· a National Pest Management Plan, and
· a Strategic Science Advisory Group.

“These new measures will give greater protection to kauri. They are targeted at getting people to do the right thing and will strengthen efforts to manage the spread of kauri dieback,” says Roger Smith, the Ministry for Primary Industries’ chief operations officer, who chairs the governance group.

The first measure the programme’s partner agencies agreed on is putting in place a Controlled Area Notice (CAN) for kauri dieback under the Biosecurity Act 1993.

“The CAN cannot ban people from going into a particular area but it would put a legal requirement on them to follow the right hygiene standards when entering or leaving areas that have kauri. We aim to make these safeguards as easy as possible to follow,” says Mr Smith.

Mr Smith says the aim is to have the CAN in place over the coming months and that it will be rolled out in stages.

“A staged approach will enable us to target higher priority areas first and not reach beyond our capacity to deliver the work effectively. It also provides opportunities to learn and refine the controls as they are rolled-out to other places,” says Mr Smith.

Work on preparing the CAN is now underway and programme partners are deciding the details of how it will be implemented. This will include deciding the first location where the CAN will initially apply.

The second measure programme partners agreed was that the CAN should ultimately be replaced by a National Pest Management Plan (NPMP) for kauri dieback.

“A national plan is used for tackling major biosecurity threats and is the strongest form of regulation we can put in place. It will provide consistent regulations for dealing with kauri dieback that apply nationally, more robust programme governance and better access to funding,” says Mr Smith.

“The national plan would be a longer-term measure for managing kauri dieback and extensive consultation will be required to develop it.”

The third measure agreed was to set up a Strategic Science Advisory Group to ensure the fight against kauri dieback is supported by the necessary science and research.

“This group will ensure the programme has on-going access to some of the best minds and knowledge relating to kauri,” says Mr Smith.

“Kauri dieback is a destructive disease and we take our responsibilities towards managing it very seriously.”

Mr Smith said it remains vital for anyone visiting forests with kauri to take personal responsibility and follow good biosecurity hygiene practices, stay on official tracks that are open and keep well clear of kauri roots. If possible, people should make use of forests and parks where kauri are not present.

“I would like to acknowledge the work partner agencies and community groups are doing to upgrade tracks, install cleaning stations and put up signage to help protect kauri.”

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Councils dealing with 'poplar' problem

Managing large ‘problem’ poplars vital says Council - Huge, decades-old poplar trees planted for streamside erosion control are causing some big headaches for both landowners and the Northland Regional Council (NRC).

Councillor Justin Blaikie (who represents the NRC’s Hokianga-Kaikohe constituency) says the council is a big supporter of poplars for erosion control, but in today’s environment uses them to mainly target erosion-prone hill country, recommending varieties like Kawa, which are smaller when mature.

The council also recommends that willows like Matsudana (and similar) are used near waterways instead of poplars.

“Unfortunately, however, between the 1920s and the 1960s, relatively large numbers of Aspen poplars (which can grow more than 30 metres tall, with trunks more than a metre thick) were planted to thwart streamside erosion all over Northland. (Lombardy poplars, which can grow to similar sizes, were also popular over that period.)

Some of those surviving trees are now ‘seriously big’ and as they begin to succumb to old age/disease or storms, floods and other adverse events are increasingly having a negative and costly impact on the very environments they were originally planted to protect.

Councillor Blaikie says the trees are so large that they can stretch right across waterways and when they topple, can have a very effective damming effect, worsening flooding, erosion and other problems. They can also damage electricity lines, roading and other valuable and costly infrastructure.

As an example, the council is currently arranging the removal of two large Aspen poplars that have fallen into the Waihou River (both just a few metres from a road bridge and power lines) in the Okaihau area, near Rahiri Settlement Rd.

“Removing these two trees alone will be no small feat and is likely to take a number of days and cost up to $10,000; and they’re just two of many problematic trees in the immediate area.”

Councillor Blaikie says while the regional council has overall responsibility for river and catchment management across Northland, landowners are responsible for ‘normal’ maintenance of rivers and streams on and around their properties.

“Council does undertake removal of major blockages and obstructions that effect public infrastructure beyond normal landowner maintenance on a prioritised basis; effectively footing the bill for the wider public good.”

“That’s effectively what’s happening in this case, as these two trees are a major threat to significant public infrastructure, including a bridge, road and powerlines that provide the only access to the Rahiri community.”

However, Cr Blaikie says the council will be approaching both the Far North District Council for help with traffic management and Top Energy for associated electricity control during the work, given they also had a vested interest in it.

“Situations like this are a significant and increasing issue and have some major cost implications for landowners, local authorities generally and our shared ratepayers.”

With very large poplars now causing issues Northland-wide, he says the council is urging landowners to be proactive, checking their properties to ensure problem trees are dealt with – including removal if necessary – well before any difficulties arise.

“Fortunately, timber from poplars – especially well-formed Aspen – does have some commercial value. Provided landowners can collectively provide a fairly large quantity of at least 10 truck and trailer loads or more, they can sometimes offset removal costs by banding together and offering these trees to forest management companies for processing and sale.”

Councillor Blaikie says as well as avoiding potentially much greater problems in future, effective river management makes good sense on multiple fronts.

“By working proactively with Northland landowners on effective river management, we can collectively reduce erosion (protecting valuable soil) and sedimentation (improving water quality) and of course lessen potentially costly flood damage.”

He says the council’s river management team can provide a range of river-related advice (including erosion control and gravel removal) which is also available online at www.nrc.govt.nz/rivermanagement .

Information about establishing poplars and willows is also available via: www.nrc.govt.nz/poplars.

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BC forest devastation expands

BC's spruce beetle outbreak in its forests is now the largest in recorded history.The outbreak of spruce beetle infestation in north-central BC rose to record-breaking levels in 2017, and the latest government data shows no sign of it slowing down.

Aerial surveys revealed 340,000 hectares of forest are now impacted by the beetle — more than 45 times the pre-outbreak levels of 7,653 hectares recorded in 2013.

"This is a significant concern," said Jeanne Robert, the regional forest entomologist for the Omineca and Northeast regions with BC's Ministry of Forests, calling the outbreak "larger and more severe than we have seen in the past."

Still not as severe as mountain pine beetle

The current outbreak was declared in 2015, after higher-than-normal spruce beetle numbers were recorded in 2014. Since then, the area affected by beetles has been growing exponentially.

The current outbreak is centred near Mackenzie, approximately 200 kilometres north of Prince George. The infestation has spread north toward the Yukon border, west into the Smithers region, and east into the Robson Valley near the BC-Alberta border, as well as worsening in the Prince George-Mackenzie region.

Robert said because spruce tend to grow in more ecologically diverse areas, the impact of the infestation likely wouldn't be as severe as the mountain pine beetle outbreak that destroyed over 18 million hectares of BC forests and continues to spread into Alberta.

More >>

Source: cbc.ca

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China releases new timber design standard

China releases new national standard for timber structure design - China has released a new design code for timber structure, which encourages industry to expand the use of wood and improve the grading system of wood strength.

The new standard, which numbered as GB50005-2017, will come into effect on August 1 this year, according to the Ministry of Housing and Urban and Rural construction. Several items* in the new standard are now compulsory and should be strictly implemented into practice, according to the ministry.

The new version has highlighted contents about the grading system of wood strength and its design specifications. It also pledges to improve the design criteria for glued timber structure and light wood structure.

The key points amended in the new version are:
  • To increase the use of domestic wood species and imported wood species;
  • To conduct research and confirm on the design value of imported wood products;
  • Make additional design requirements on structure composite materials and engineered wood products;
  • To carry out comprehensive research and unify the calculation requirement of wood structure components and connectors;
  • Improve the design criteria for glued timber structure and light wood structure;
  • Improve the regulation on seismic design and structure requirement;
  • Coordinate and improve requirements on fire-protection design and structure requirements;
  • Improve requirements on durability design and structure requirements;

* Note - Compulsory items in the new standard include items 3.1.3, 3.1.12, 4.1.6, 4.1.14, 4.3.4, 4.3.6, 7.4.11, 7.7.1, and 11.2.9.

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Canada's carbon-pricing move to aid industry

Canada to relax carbon-pricing measures to aid industry competitiveness - In Canada, the Liberal government is set to introduce carbon-tax legislation that will give breaks to industrial emitters as Ottawa seeks to limit the economic impact of an ambitious environmental agenda to be enacted this year.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and Finance Minister Bill Morneau released a draft legislative proposal outlining key elements of the "carbon price backstop" that will apply only in provinces that do not have their own levy or have one that fails to meet federal standards.

Legislation will be tabled after the House of Commons with the goal of having it passed by the summer recess in June. Ottawa will also be assessing provincial plans over the next eight months and will indicate after 1 September in which provinces it will impose the federal levy, either in whole or in part.

"Canadians know pollution isn't free and last year we saw that extreme weather events are costing us billions of dollars – trillions if you look at what is happening around the world," Ms. McKenna said in an interview. "And we know a price on pollution is the best way to fight climate change and also get clean innovation. But of course, competitiveness is a key part of it."

Under the plan, the government will set an emissions cap for large industrial plants and they will pay the carbon tax only on greenhouse gases that they emit above that threshold. The cap will be based on an industry average, and the most efficient facilities will pay no tax and may even generate credits.

The system is designed to avoid driving industry out of the country to jurisdictions that have no carbon pricing, which would both cost Canadians jobs and result in no environmental benefit for the planet, the minister said.

Ottawa will set the levy at $10 a tonne this year, and increase it annually in $10 increments until it is $50 a tonne in 2022, a level that would drive up gasoline prices by roughly 11 cents a litre.

More >>

Source: The Globe and Mail

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China's own forest costly to protect

China has spent more than 300 billion yuan (over 47 billion US dollars) in 20 years in protecting natural forests, according to sources with their State Forestry Administration.

As a key measure initiated by the State Council after severe floods hit the valleys of the Yangtze River and Songhua River in 1998, natural forest protection project was implemented in 16 provinces, including Heilongjiang, Jilin, Hebei, Yunnan, Hunan and Liaoning.

So far, about 130 million hectares of natural forest has been well protected, according to an official in charge of natural forest protection. Logging of natural forest has been completely banned in these regions.

State-owned forestry bureaus in key protection areas received subsidy of 15 million yuan each annually to sustain their daily operation.

Boasting the fifth largest forest area in the world, China aims to expand its forest cover to more than 23 percent by 2020 to combat climate change and soil erosion. The forest coverage was 21.7 percent at the end of 2016.

An increase of 1.4 percentage points means the forest volume rising by more than 1.3 billion cubic meters, supporting China's climate change obligation to add around 4.5 billion cubic meters of forest by 2030.

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Buy and Sell

... and finally ... jokes about him ...

He said: “What have you been doing with all the grocery money I gave you?”
She said: “Turn sideways and look in the mirror!”

On a wall in a ladies room ... "My husband follows me everywhere."
Written just below it, "I do not."

Q. How many honest, intelligent, caring men in the world does it take to do the dishes?
A. Both of them.

Q. How does a man show that he is planning for the future?
A. He buys two cases of beer.

Q. What is the difference between men and government bonds?
A. The bonds mature.

Q. Why are blonde jokes so short?
A. So men can remember them.

Q. How many men does it take to change a roll of toilet paper?
A. We don't know; it has never happened.

Okay, you can laugh all you like this week, but next week we might have jokes about 'her'.

Thanks for keeping up with the latest wood news with us!
Have a safe and productive week.

John Stulen

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