Planning Guide for Wood Products Companies

Lead Author: Dr. Jeff Howe

Publish date: 07.01.2005


At the beginning of the 21st century, North American wood products companies are nfacing competitive pressure from numerous sources. Traditional products are being manufactured in new regions (e.g., China and the developing nations), and substitute products are being developed by competing industries (e.g., plastics and composites). The bottom line is strained by greater restriction of natural resources and the general rising cost of doing business. All of this pressure is stretching the abilities of the wood products manager to the limit. The times are changing, and they’re changing quickly. So what can be done to improve the chances of success and maximize a firm’s capabilities?


Research has shown that a formal planning process is a key to the success of manufacturing companies, especially with regard to developing new products and new markets. Research on wood products companies in Maine and Minnesota demonstrated that wood products firms recognized as industry role models were significantly more likely to have a formal planning process than the industry as a whole (Howe and others 1995). Formal, written plans allow firms to create strategies and programs to implement their ideas, and help them to measure and control their results. Formal planning is not a guarantee of success, but it is a process that facilitates the bringing of skills and abilities to bear on the proper issue, at the proper time.