In November 2000, a group of structural component and engineered wood manufacturers, distributors, and dealers met for a roundtable session on the unique challenges facing their side of the industry. “The topic of conversation always returned to increasing the education and technical ability for individuals working with engineered wood across the whole supply chain,” says Clark Spitzer, a general manager for Pittsburgh-based specialty distributor Snavely Forest Products. What germinated from that first meeting was the formation of the Structural Component Distributors Association (SCDA), a group dedicated to representing the interests and technical and educational needs of the supplier side of the structural component and engineered wood industries.

After two years of organizing, including surveying component manufacturers and distributors on their needs in an association, writing by-laws, and electing a board of directors, SCDA currently is in its charter year of membership and is seeking distributors and wood products vendors that are interested in contributing to the organization.

According to the association's mission statement, SCDA aims to fill a void in the industry for fundamental training directed toward technicians working for distributors of components and engineered wood products. The association intends to both work with existing training materials and also offer industry-specific technical training programs developed for distributors by distributors. “So far we've put together some testing, done some sampling, and built some benchmarks,” says Spitzer, who sits on SCDA's three-member board of directors. “We are really looking forward to developing more programs.” In addition to certifying technicians through an examination process, SCDA also aims to offer examinations for component distributor managers to evaluate team talent and determine where technical skills are strong or need improvement.

SCDA currently is trying to build a base group of 200 members before proceeding with an official association launch that will include development of educational programs. “The drive for membership is going fairly well, but right now the components and engineered wood side of the industry is just extremely busy, like everywhere else, and almost everyone is just trying to focus on doing business,” says Spitzer. “But we're starting to get a really good reception from the industry.”

Under the association's 2004 charter membership schedule, membership dues for regular member companies making less than $25 million in annual revenues will be $750, while firms making more than $25 million will contribute dues of $1,000. The association is also appealing to upstream industry suppliers for organization sponsorship at levels ranging from $1,000 to $20,000. Revenue generated from dues and sponsorships will be used primarily to begin generating educational materials.

In addition to Snavely Forest Products, Warsaw Ind.-based LRC Products; Branchburg, N.J.–based Mid State Lumber Corp.; Des Moines, Iowa–based Roberts & Dybdahl; Lansing, Mich.–based Schultz, Snyder and Steele Lumber; Canton, Ohio–based Stark Truss Co.; North Kingstown, R.I.–based Trussco; and U.S. Glulam from Oak Forest, Ill., all jumped on board as founding members of the association, which also currently has eight supplier sponsors and two associate members.

For more information on the association or membership, contact Barb Speer via e-mail at [email protected] or 608.271.1176 ext. 45.