National Hardwood Magazine


April 2013 Feature Story


NHLA’s 14-week program teaches the rules and application of the NHLA Hardwood lumber grading system and prepares students for a career in the Hardwood lumber industry.
An Opportunity To ‘Pay It Forward’ With

By Michelle Keller

Memphis, Tenn.—Recently the National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA), based here, assisted with the formation of the NHLA Inspector Training School Educational Foundation (ITSEF). The Foundation, under the leadership of Industrial Timber & Lumber Corp., Beachwood, Ohio President Larry Evans, is a separate function from NHLA, but will work together with the association in support of one of the most important needs of the lumber industry—the support and expansion of the NHLA Inspector Training School. Funds from the Foundation will go to scholarships and promotional ideas that will be additional to the ongoing school operations.

ITSEF primarily gives graduates and supporters of the School an opportunity to give back financially directly to the School and helps ensure it will be there to provide opportunities for future lumbermen. “Since 100 percent of the funds received will be controlled by the duly elected Foundation board, individuals will know they are receiving maximum effectiveness with their donations,” said Mark Barford, Executive Director of NHLA. “In addition, as a non-profit association, their individual donations are tax deductible.

“The NHLA will use our resources through magazines, newsletters and public pronouncements to continue to support the Foundation and hope the industry will continue to support it as they have already done in just the first few months of existence,” he continued. “Current NHLA staff will assist in these efforts until the Foundation is able to hire their own staff to manage their efforts.”

Lumber inspectors determine the grade and value of the product. An NHLA trained inspector is invaluable and something a company cannot afford to be without. Even a minor mistake can cost the company thousands in just a short period of time.
Also President of the board of trustees for ITSEF, Larry Evans said the Foundation was designed with the intention of fulfilling the desires of NHLA Alumni to assist future generations of lumbermen to not only attend the School, but to help enhance the experience by providing financial assistance for current and long term needs of the school. “Recognizing the importance of the NHLA Inspector Training School, the concept of establishing a Foundation was first conceived at the School’s Annual Alumni Reception,” he explained. “Graduates and supporters for the School in attendance were overwhelmingly appreciative of how the School benefited their careers. With that gratitude in mind, the attendees discussed creating a Foundation whereby they could make contributions for the purpose of assisting future generations of lumbermen.”

ITSEF is managed by a Board of Trustees elected by the NHLA Executive Committee (Board of Managers). Including Evans, trustees are: Vice President Joe Snyder, Fitzpatrick & Weller Inc., Ellicottville, N.Y.; Chuck Bice, Sweeney Hardwoods, Fort Worth, Texas; Parker Boles, Hermitage Hardwood Lumber Sales Inc., Cookeville, Tenn.; Rich Conti, Matson Lumber Co., Brookville, Pa.; Charley Fiala, GMC Hardwoods Inc., Long Beach, Calif.; Wally Fields, Walter Fields Lumber Co., Memphis, Tenn.; Skip Holmes, Thomas & Proetz Lumber Co., St. Louis, Mo.; Sally Johnson, Batey Ltd., Mt. Pleasant, Iowa; Ron Jones, Ron Jones Hardwood Sales Inc., Union City, Pa.; and Pete Van Amelsfoort, Quality Hardwoods Ltd., Powassan, Ont.

The first order of business from the trustee’s standpoint was to clearly define the purpose of the Foundation, which is t

• Assist with increasing enrollment by providing financial support to worthy students;

• Assist with promoting the school outside of the Hardwood industry;

• Purchase and maintain technologically relevant equipment to enhance the learning experience and fulfill the needs of an evolving Hardwood industry; and

• Create an endowment fund to assist with enhancing the experience for future generations.

The creation, advancement and future of the NHLA Inspector Training School has been and will be driven by the industry's support and interest in obtaining quality lumber inspectors.
“As a former member of the NHLA’s Board of Managers, it is my pleasure to be on the Inspector Training School’s Committee,” Evans continued. “Prior to becoming a board member, I recognized the important role that the School serves, not only for the company I represent, but for the entire Hardwood industry. As Chairperson of the committee for four years, I became familiar with the many challenges the School faces, especially during the recent economic downturn. Even though the enrollment numbers deteriorated, the NHLA remained determined to keep the School open. Thankfully there was enough industry support to sustain the School. Throughout my time on the board, there were always numerous postings on the NHLA’s job board for inspectors, which reinforced the fact that inspectors are still in demand. Every graduate left the School with either a job or a job offer. With an improving economy, the demand for qualified inspectors will continually increase. One of the largest challenges facing the School is finding students to attend. In order to attract qualified individuals to the Hardwood industry and students to the School, the School must compete with many other educational institutions. To be competitive the School must offer financial aid and it must compete with programs and facilities that meet the needs of today’s students. The NHLA is committed to continuing the School as it has demonstrated even in the worst of times; however, if the School shall thrive in the future, I believe it needs financial support, other than from the NHLA.

“The NHLA Inspector Training School is no different than any other educational institution. Successful educational institutions all receive financial assistance from its graduates and from those who directly benefit from the services it provides.”

The goal of ITSEF is to assist by providing financial support to worthy students; promote the school outside of the Hardwood industry; and to purchase and maintain technologically relevant equipment to enhance the student’s learning experience.
“Following in the footsteps of visionary Lumbermen of the past, the NHLA’s directors have ‘blessed’ the formation of the Inspector Training School Educational Foundation,” said President of Hermitage Hardwood Lumber Sales Inc., Parker Boles who is also a trustee of the Foundation. “After many years of poor industry economics and lower participation of students, the board has established this foundation along with a board of trustees who have the challenge of enhancing and invigorating the training school experience. As a graduate of the program and actively engaged in the Hardwood lumber industry, I can give first hand testimony to the effectiveness of the program and what it does for all the membership of the association and our industry. From the beginnings of the formation of the Rules and Sales Code over 100 years ago, the need for a common boundary between grades and specie still exist today. Supporting the Inspector Training Program is important to all the NHLA membership and its associating industries. The condensed and focused program offered by the Inspector Training School allows for training that most companies similar to Hermitage Hardwood Lumber Sales are not effective at administering with all our distractions day to day.

“The main objective we have is to find new ways to enhance this occupation, its present and future students, and the Inspector Training School experience. Let’s all get on board and proceed to find new ways to support this vital part of our industry and its future,” Boles continued.

Since its introduction at the 2012 NHLA Convention in Chicago, numerous contributions and pledges have been received by ITSEF. The contributors recognize how the School has benefited them. The success of the Foundation is dependent on the financial support it receives. “As a supporter of the School, I ask industry members to consider making a charitable donation to the Foundation,” Evans added.

The NHLA Inspector Training School maintains a long-standing relationship with employers in the Hardwood lumber industry. This relationship dates back to the founding of the school in 1948.
“Contributing to ITSEF allows people in the industry who have experienced success, as a result of our involvement at the NHLA Inspector Training School, to ‘pay it forward’ to future generations. If you can attribute part of the success in your life to the experience you had at the School, please consider sharing a bit of that success and helping the Foundation reach its goals. There are a number of ways to give to ITSEF. Donations can be in the form of direct products such as lumber or equipment, cash, real estate or even including ITSEF as a benefactor in your will or estate plan. All donations are graciously accepted and appreciated.”

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