International Wood International Wood 2005 - Page 38

LESSER-KNOWN SPECIES T H E B L O C K B U ST E R I N T H E WOOD S he hunt is on! Just like in Hollywood – producing the next block- buster hit is on everybody’s mind in the wood products business. But just like in Hollywood, it is not always easy to predict the next big hit. Finding the next “must-have” species of wood takes a lot of in- vestment, marketing and promotion. Introducing a new species to the market provides many benefits – to both the environment and the industry. Each new successful in- troduction reduces pressure on the other commonly used species and brings much needed financial capital to developing countries. One recent success story has been jatoba ( Hymenaea courbaril ) which is sold in the United States under the trade name of Brazilian cherry. Jatoba has the rich look of American black cherry. Jatoba is proving to be a sustainable alternative for black cherry which only makes up two percent of the U.S. forest inventory. The continued restrictions on harvesting from key U.S. Forest Service National Forests have further limited availability of this beautiful species. So how did jatoba get from unknown to a key market player? Well it is not easy, sort of like scribbling an idea on a napkin, turning it into a screenplay and then producing the movie. The first obstacle is recognizing that most of these species are not unknown (or even lesser-known), they are lesser used – and typically for quite legitimate reasons. They may be only available in limited quan- tities, have less desired qualities (appearance, performance), or truly be “lesser known.” The path to performance starts with understanding the physical – i.e. working – properties of the wood. We are very fortunate to have great resources available in the U.S. and in many foreign countries. The U.S. Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin ( provides a great resource database for understanding the specific prop- erties of imported wood species. Countries such as Brazil, Malaysia, Indonesia and Ghana also have forest products labs or have done extensive testing of their native species. In addition, a significant number of publications and company websites exist that further add to our understanding and potential use for thousands of additional species. Armed with good data on the physical properties of a wood species, the next step to move from lesser-known to “known” requires appli- cation. This is where marketing and promotion come to play. Back to the story of Brazilian cherry. The market saw a need, the physical properties information was known, but now it was up to good ol’ market innovation to jump in. With product manufactured to U.S. specifications – companies were able to unleash their sales forces to actively distribute samples, advertise in trade magazines and at tradeshows, to slowly create the necessary mo- mentum to create the “blockbuster hit” we now know as jatoba. So, what’s next you might ask? Is it massaranduba ( Manilkara bi- dentata ), known for its stability and strength for marine applications and outdoor projects? How about red laurel or “louro” ( Ocotea rubra ), fan- tastic for both indoor and outdoor use, given its good finishing charac- teristics and durability? From South America there’s also angelim pedra ( Hymenolobium excelsum ), araracanga ( Aspidosperma spp .), tatajuba ( Bagassa guianensis ), Santa Maria ( Calophyllum brasiliensis ), tornillo ( Cedrelinga cat- enaeformis ), tauari ( Couratari spp. ), açacu ( Hura crepitans ), mora ( Mora spp. ), and mandioqueira ( Qualea spp. ), to name a few. All possess unique char- acteristics that make them work, depending on the species, in a whole host of applications – from furniture to floors, cabinets to decks, and doors to windows, in interior and exterior applications. Which is best for you? The “Next Big Blockbuster”? Well now is th B[YH]ܙX]]H][\\Y\[H܈[\[BH[ܙX\Y[[]Y[\\HKˈۜ[Y\\B^XXY\\YH[\H\HX]Y\[[ۈHܙZYۂX[YX\\X[Y]H[Y[\[ܙX\H[X]X[]H[]Z[X[]K[H\HXY\۸&]HXH; [[YYH[\YH[H۝[YHܚ][\\Y\ۂܝ[]Y\^[H[HوXY\\YH\X[\™ܙ\8$]\܈Hܙ\[][H\H܈[\\[\˂[\ܝY\HܙX][YH܈[[H\X\\X[X\][X[܈\[\\\ZۛۈXY\[UH\BXH[YH[ܙHX]\\ۈX{ XXY\[]\HY][ۜˈU“PTTSPHQUTSSSSBHHHBX[[\HY[]H8$XX\[XKXHXH8$Y]\[ \[Y[ؚ][H^[[H8$\KP[[[K\]\H 8$]X\K]X\K[H\TTHшPST•X\\[XK^[X[YY\Y\ۈ]Y[]K][\][HX\Hܚ˂\\[X^K[[ۛH\Y[X[[; ܚ[˂STԕQYY\ۈ][Y[\[Z[\XZ[X\[H\\[K\Y[\]\K[\K][[ ܚ[[X[˂[[[HYK\\\H[X\[BYܘ[H[ܘ[Hۈ[X\Hܚˈ\\[ ܂]܈\X][ۜ[Y[X[˜[]Z[[[[HYB\Y]Hو[\[܈\X][ۜ˂ܙX[HܙY][Y[\[KXX[[\Y\ˈ\Y܈[\[܈ۜX[ۋ[\K; ܚ[[\]\K