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Thread: Robs Thought for the day.........illegal logging ......how it can help you sell

  1. #1
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    Robs Thought for the day.........illegal logging ......how it can help you sell

    According to the world bank illegal logging generates around $10 - $15 billion anually and is run by organized crime.

    When i came across this news it had me thinking back to my many trips to a small country in the heart of Africa called Malawi. Each year when i returned over a period of several years i noticed more and more of the realities of deforestation and its impact. There were a number of factors driving the cause in Malawi's case but i expect they apply in many of these cases. Wood is a source of fuel for these indigenous people in countries where rural infrastructure in the form of power is non existent and when it is its unreliable at best. Then in order to feed their families opening up land for agricultural purposes becomes another motivation and then elements of a tradditional rural subsistence way of life plays a role in that fishing on their lake is and always has been conducted from dug outs and obviously to make a dugout one needs a decent diameter tree. They dont last too long given they are dragged up on the beach at the end of each trip and soon wear a hole in them and are abandoned due to lack of resources and availability of materials to repair the dugouts. (note this is a place you buy nails at the market by the ones not pound but each). There is also the carving business which has seen the local craftsman using the trees, specifically ebony which used to occur in quantity, making items for the toursit trade.

    While these very local demands impact their forests its not this demand that is causing the problem to the extent of billions its the logging for commercial sale of the large old growth in some of these countries. Malawi does not have and never did have much to offer in this sense.

    But he point got me thinking about the discussion going back to selling crafsman wares to the population and how one might educate the customer to appreciate the merits of your output and choose to purchase your goods as opposed to goods from sources with questionable ethics.

    The US government has enacted laws governing the trade in "illegal timber" it even has gone after some big name manufacturers for using wood of questionable origin.

    But all this does not stop the people who purchase this wood and convert it to a product and then sell said product to the US market. I would imagine that the pac man type demand that a country like China can place on commodity demand will easily see them using wood from illegal sources.

    But this is not the case when local woodworking craftsman make up a piece of furniture from wood either that they purchase from a reputable supplier or as a strategic decision adopt and approach of buying wood from a local sawyer and making it a point to market the origins of the wood used in their furniture.

    There are several of our comrades here that saw their own wood or even offer said wood for sale. In many cases such wood has been secured through reclaiming downed trees and putting to use said lumber rather than it ending up in a landfill.

    I dont claim this will work in every case but i imagine or at least like to believe or hope that there will be a element of client out there that would put a value on the merits of examining more than just the issue of what the price of the item is and supporting local craftsman in the community but on also knowing that the raw material for their product was being procured from a legal source but more specifically a sustainable resource making the product environmentally friendly.

    Making full use of these non woodworking elements of your product will help project a far superior product and quality of craftsman demonstrating your awareness towards these issues and your own contribution to helping to solve them.

    I dont see how we as individuals are going to prevent the mass illegal deforestation except through our governments etc but making the consumer who has a choice recognise that perhaps the wood product being sourced by a Walmart from another country needs to have some demonstrable proof that it did not get made from illegal lumber.

    My point is i dont believe guys that sell their work and have this element inherent in their work make a big enough song and dance about the merits of locally sourced sustainable lumber being used and use this fact to their advantage in a sale. These aspects are not neccessary obvious to every customer, some of whom would not even be aware of deforestation as a topic.

    The real sad thing is that much of the wood that is suffering harvest illegally takes lifetimes to grow so i dont see that there is a sustainable way they will ever manage those forests given the pressures locally with the forests being the various peoples only significant natural resource.


    Whats your view, do you think the custom furniture client cares where the wood is sourced? Do you think it would make any difference in a potential sale to mention your source of lumber?
    cheers

  2. #2
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    Do you think the custom furniture client cares where the wood is sourced? Rarely.

    Do you think it would make any difference in a potential sale to mention your source of lumber? Depends on your client, but probably not.

    Not that your points are not well-intentioned, just that the potential client base is so small as to be almost non-existent. The kicker is that marketing that particular point likely will leave the impression that there is some sort of mark-up for you views. That being the perception, then the mark-up may as well be large enough to warrant it. However, the downside is that then the maker is known for making stuff that is exclusive to those who can afford it. A woodworker could starve to death.

    BTW, I know a famous turner whose work has escalated into a price range that few can afford. In addition, some very superior wood is needed to create these gems. Wood may grow on trees, but the really cool stuff is not easily acquired. To stay in business, a vastly different business model is being sought.

    It is a big and complex situation. The greater danger of deforestation is the reduced ability to process CO2 into O2 (which is what living trees do for all of us) in a world that is increasing in population, especially in third world countries. But this could get into a political brouhaha. Let's don't go there.
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

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    Rob, in my somewhat limited experience selling turned wood pieces, I've seen many positive reactions from potential customers when I tell them nearly everything I make is from reclaimed urban hardwoods. In my case, I like using reclaimed wood because it's free, but in their eyes, I'm helping to save the planet.

    On the subject of illegal logging, some of the efforts to "save the trees" have actually backfired and caused more trees to be lost. Case in point...this post by Jim King in Peru:

    http://familywoodworking.org/forums/...ght=#post29527

    The officials make it too expensive for the indigenous farmers to sell a tree or two (which would make them fairly wealthy by their standards), so instead the farmer does a slash and burn operation to clear land to (barely) feed his family. I'll stop at that before it gets too political.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  4. #4
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    Carol I would have to respectfully agree to disagree with you.

    I have a hard time believing that some Church congregation with a requirement for custom made furniture, would not choose all other things being equal, vendor a over vendor b if vendor a was using reclaimed or sustainably harvested lumber. The same i would argue goes for a corporate order for custom furniture in certain corporations. They may do this for the alterior motive as opposed to primary interest in sustainability but its definitely in my view an item on the table more and more these days. Where corporate social responsibility is being brought into question more and more.

    I also believe that just like food certain segements of the population are asking more questions that say 10 or 20 years ago about the origions, sustainability and health impact of building materials used in their home.

    Take the recent uproar over the toxi drywall found to have originated overseas which caused many people to have to gut newly built homes. Also the conciousness of vapors being produced by glues and the like in the manufacture of something as basic as a FEMA trailer.

    But i had no intention that this be ones primary marketing pitch i simply think its something well worth putting on the table as a further extra in the value proposition presented by a custom furniture builder.

    Sometimes to tip the see saw every little bit counts. I certainly would not discount it if i were in the business of making custom furniture.
    cheers

  5. #5
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    Different point of view, Rob. Not right or wrong. As for churches, there I have more than a little experience. The client is most always a committee, sometimes with difficulty reaching a majority for a vote. The bottom line is almost always money. The exception is when a single donor with autonomy for details is the client. The size of the client base also enters in. Churches in the market for new furniture are never plentiful, especially in poor economic times. A custom builder might offer your proposal as an option. But options do not a reputation make. I found this to be a one on one referral business. Reputation is everything to get the referral. Your perspective is one of a subjective nature, but larger view. Mine is based on personal experience, but with a much smaller view. Neither of us have on either rose colored glasses nor horse blinders. You asked for an opinion and you got one. Just from a different perspective.
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn McMillan View Post
    Rob, in my somewhat limited experience selling turned wood pieces, I've seen many positive reactions from potential customers when I tell them nearly everything I make is from reclaimed urban hardwoods. In my case, I like using reclaimed wood because it's free, but in their eyes, I'm helping to save the planet.

    On the subject of illegal logging, some of the efforts to "save the trees" have actually backfired and caused more trees to be lost. Case in point...this post by Jim King in Peru:

    http://familywoodworking.org/forums/...ght=#post29527

    The officials make it too expensive for the indigenous farmers to sell a tree or two (which would make them fairly wealthy by their standards), so instead the farmer does a slash and burn operation to clear land to (barely) feed his family. I'll stop at that before it gets too political.

    Yes, thanks for reposting that. I had forgotten about that post. I used to correspond extensively with James. He has said that much illegal timber is exported from SA but the authorities either cannot or are unwilling to stop the trade. Many of our prized "rosewoods" are really other trees but so similar in properties only an expert can tell the difference.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

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