Georgia-Pacific Wood Products (GP) announced a new strategic direction for its engineered lumber business today designed to facilitate more direct involvement with its customers. The initiative coincides with the expiration of GP's distribution agreement with BlueLinx, which is set to occur on Feb. 12, and will allow for GP to begin to phase out its Broadspan line of engineered wood products.

"This new strategy will help expand market opportunities for GP, our customers, distributors, and supply partners," Mark Luetters, president of Georgia-Pacific Wood Products, said in a news release. "We feel this will help us better meet customer needs through a strong network of independent distributors with a primary focus on engineered lumber products."

As part of its strategy, GP will provide inside and outside account management personnel, business development support, engineering and technical services, and software development and support to all its engineered lumber customers. The company will continue to supply its complete line of engineered lumber products. Jeff Key, GP's senior manager for marketing communications, said these services will be offered on an "as needed" basis to dealers, since some already provide them. GP said it is currently in the process of negotiating with distributors to sell and move its products after the end of its contract with BlueLinx.

Paul Watterson, general manager of Georgia-Pacific Wood Products, said the initiative will allow the company to offer brands such as Wood I Beam joists, GP Lam LVL, GP Lam 3000 Glulam, and Fiberstrong rim board to a broader set of customers.

On Nov. 4, BlueLinx revealed plans to launch its own line of privately branded engineered wood products, which the company said will replace the GP products following the distribution agreement expiration. The company also announced that same day that its net loss for the third quarter deepened to $14.9 million from $13.5 million in the year-earlier period even though sales rose 3.4% to $464.7 million.

BlueLinx traces its history back to the former distribution division of Georgia-Pacific Wood Products that began operating in 1954 and remained a part of the company until 2004. That year, it was bought by Cerberus Capital Management and a team of senior division leaders and renamed as BlueLinx.

"We're looking forward to working more closely with our customers and will remain committed to offering high-quality wood products and innovative solutions to the industry," said Watterson.