2019 Vermont Forest Industry Summit

2nd Annual Vermont Forest Industry Summit

May 2-3, 2019
Burke Mountain, East Burke, VT

Join us for the 2nd Annual Vermont Forest Industry Summit at Burke Mountain Resort. If you work in the woods or make products out of wood, this is the event for you!

The Summit will feature prominent industry speakers and discussions on topics that impact forest and wood products businesses across all supply chains. We gather to address challenges that no one business can tackle alone, and we encourage conversations that tap into innovative ideas to improve forest and wood products businesses throughout Vermont and our region.

Topics will include forest planning, logger safety, local supply chains, new markets for chips, growing your wood products business, how to successfully transfer your business to new ownership and more.

  • Network with industry members from throughout the forest and wood products supply chain
  • Learn about new innovations, technologies and products shaping the industry’s future
  • Enjoy great food, speakers and hospitality at Burke Mountain Resort!

Get in Touch

Contact Christine McGowan
Forest Products Program Director
(802) 828-5770

The Summit gave me the chance to be around a lot of ideas and hear things about topics beyond my usual scope of exposure.

- 2018 Summit Attendee

2019 Summit Agenda

Thursday, May 2 – Friday, May 3, 2019
Burke Mountain Hotel, 2559 Mountain Road, East Burke, VT

Thursday, May 2, 2019

1 - 2 p.m.

Registration Opens

2 - 3:30 p.m.

Welcome and Fireside Chat with Gov. Phil Scott (invited) and Commissioner Michael Snyder, Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation about the Future of our Forests

3:30 - 5 p.m.

Afternoon Breakout Sessions
Track One: Reducing Worker’s Compensation Rates through Logger Safety

  • Learn about a new program in Vermont to improve safety in the woods and reduce worker’s compensation rates for Vermont loggers

Track Two: Reinvesting in the Vermont Sawmill 

  • We’ve heard about sawmill closures over the years; but which Vermont mills are investing in the future and what is the outlook?

Track Three: Smooth Transitions: Case Studies of Businesses Taking the Next Leap

  • Businesses are constantly evolving – hear from forest and wood products businesses that have successfully navigated a transition in their business plan

Track Four: SEO: What Is It, and Why Do I Need It? How to Get Your Business Discovered

  • So you have a website. But can anyone find it? Learn the basics of Search Engine Optimization
5 - 6 p.m.

Happy Hour and Visit with industry trade organizations, service providers, lenders and others supporting Vermont’s forest and wood products industry

6 - 8:30 p.m.

Dinner in the Ballroom, with a special viewing of a new video, “The Life of a Tree,” part of Cabot Creamery’s centennial celebration

8:30 p.m. and Beyond

Networking on your own

Friday, May 3, 2019

7 - 8:30 a.m.

Breakfast Buffet – Willoughby’s

8 - 9 a.m.


9 - 10:30 a.m.

Welcome and Morning Keynotes 
Keynote address by Donna Cassese, SAPPI on The Future of Wood; other programming TBD

10:30 - 11 a.m.

Visit with industry trade organizations, service providers, lenders and others supporting Vermont’s forest and wood products industry

11 - 12:30 p.m.

Morning Breakout Sessions
Track One: Dry Chips – Current and Future Market Opportunities

  • Exploring the emerging market for dry wood chips

Track Two: Trends in Interior Design – How Vermont Wood Products Stack Up 

  • What are the latest design trends influencing Vermont woodworkers, and in turn how are they influencing styling with wood?

Track Three: Success(ion) Planning – Options for Businesses to Consider 

  • Learn about the various options for your business when you want to move on

Track Four: SEO: What Is It, and Why Do I Need It? (Repeat Session)

  • For those who missed it, a repeat session on the basics of Search Engine Optimization
12:30 - 2 p.m.

Buffet Lunch in the Day Lodge

2 p.m.

Summit Ends

Registration Info

Two Day Pass
Thursday & Friday, includes lodging:
$125 ($50 for students)

Two Day Pass
Thursday & Friday, without lodging: $75 ($50 for students)

One Day Pass
Friday Only:
$50 ($25 for students)

Tabling Opportunity for Service and Capital Providers
Friday Only: $75 (sign up through the registration process)

Technical assistance and capital providers – tabling options are available. See registration for details, or contact Christine McGowan, christine[at]vsjf.org.

2018 Forest Summit Recap Videos

More than 150 people attended the 1st Annual Vermont Forest Industry Summit June 28-29, 2018 at Burke Mountain Resort.

  • We launched the Vermont Forest Industry Network, made up of forest and wood products industry members and service providers who want to advance Vermont’s forest and wood products sector, grow markets for Vermont wood products and improve our forest supply chains.
  • Click here to read a re-cap of the Summit and next steps for the Network.

2018 Morning Plenary: Forests of the Future: Taking the Long View

What do we want Vermont’s forests to be in 50 years? A panel of distinguished industry experts explores this question in the context of local, regional and global issues that impact today’s forests and the industry that both stewards and depends on them.  How are other regions viewing forests of the future, and what actions are needed today to insure Vermont has the forests it envisions for future generations?

Sean Ross, Managing Director/Director of Forestry Operations, Lyme Timber Company, LP; Hanover, NH


  • Kathryn Fernholz, Executive Director, Dovetail Partners, Minneapolis, MN
  • Craig Rawlings, President/CEO, Forest Business Network, Missoula, MT
  • Michael Snyder, Commissioner, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation
  • Alex Barrett, Consulting Forester, Long View Forest Management, Westminster, VT

2018 Track One AM: Beyond the Woodstove: Thinking big about renewable energy and wood

This panel discusses how energy users across the scale are utilizing wood and moving away from fossil fuels. How will the emergence of home and business scale Combined Heat and Power (CHP) impact the market for pellets and chips in Vermont and the region? What do forest and wood products businesses in Vermont need to know about converting away from fossil-fuel based energy systems? Learn how the public utilities are using Tier III dollars to help forest industry businesses move away from fossil fuels.

Moderator: Adam Sherman, Biomass Energy Resource Center, Burlington, VT 


  • Dutch Dresser, Maine Energy Systems, Bethel, ME
  • Jack Byrne, Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT
  • Jeffrey Monder, Green Mountain Power, Rutland, VT

2018 Track One PM: How Company Culture and Efficient Operations Can Improve Your Bottom Line

Workforce development continues to challenge Vermont businesses grappling with a shortage of workers and many forest products business owners are reaching retirement age. Overseas and over-the-border competition continues to put downward pressure on product prices. Staying focused ON your business and not just working IN your business can be hard to prioritize. Vermont forest and wood products businesses discuss how they have overcome challenges recruiting and retaining quality employees, as well as how they’ve invested in operational efficiencies that are yielding results. Stories of what can happen when the business is not attending to these needs are shared.

Moderator: Lawrence Miller, Business consultant and founder of Otter Creek Brewing Company


  • Jennifer Fraser, General Manager, Appalachian Engineered Flooring, North Troy
  • Chris Brooks, Owner, Vermont Wood Pellet Company, N. Clarendon
  • Andrew Pearce, Owner, Andrew Pearce Bowls, Hartland

2018 Track Two AM: Mass Timber in Vermont and Beyond: Products, Projects and the Case for Local Timber

Due to their high strength, dimensional stability and positive environmental performance, mass timber building products are quickly becoming materials of choice for sustainably-minded designers. Regions of the country such as the Pacific Northwest, the southeast and New England have shown particular interest in adopting this new style of construction, undoubtedly in large part due to their abundant forest resources. This presentation provides an overview of the variety of mass timber products available, including glue-laminated timber (glulam), cross laminated timber (CLT), nail laminated timber (NLT), heavy timber decking, and other engineered and composite systems. Applications for the use of these products under modern building codes are discussed, and examples of their use in U.S. projects reviewed. Next, the results of a recently completed mass timber feasibility study on a 5 story mixed-use project in Brattleboro are presented, with an emphasis on cost, assemblies and lessons learned. Finally, non-structural wood species native to Vermont is discussed, highlighting possible applications for these products in mass timber buildings.

Moderator/Speaker: Ricky McLain, WoodWorks, Cabot, VT


  • Jillian Tomaselli, Stevens & Associates, Brattleboro, VT
  • Paul Frederick, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation

2018 Track Two PM: The Forest Story: Connecting the Dots between Forests, People and the Industry in the Middle

Research shows that consumers have an innate love of forests and a desire for quality wood products – two things Vermont has in spades. How can forest and wood products businesses more effectively tell their stories and emphasize their role stewarding the forests people love and making the wood products people want?  Hear results from a recent survey of Vermonters and visitors about their perceptions of our forests and wood products and learn about a new regional marketing campaign to grow the market for automated wood heat.

Moderator: Kathleen Wanner, Owner, GWC Communications and Executive Director, Vermont Woodlands Association 


  • Maura Adams, Northern Forest Center
  • Christine McGowan, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund

2018 Track Three AM: Local Wood: Supporting Vermont’s Economy through Local Wood Sourcing

A look at case studies of previous and current efforts to source local wood. What lessons can be learned by previous efforts to develop a Vermont wood supply chain from landowner to consumer? Examples of current local sourcing efforts are discussed.

Moderator: Ellen Kahler, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund


  • Joe Nelson, Consulting Forester, Addision, VT
  • Andy Harper, Winterwood Timber Frames, East Montpelier, VT
  • Michael Rainville, Maple Landmark, Middlebury, VT
  • Tony Fletcher, Green Mountain Grain & Barrel, Richmond,

2018 Track Three PM: Global Trends and Native Vermont Species: Where Can We Compete?

Trends come and go, but the trees that grow in Vermont and the region are steady. What are the latest trends in wood use? What species are coming into vogue for architectural design? How is Amazon impacting the market for cardboard? Are we taking full advantage of the species that grow in Vermont, and are there opportunities for underutilized species to meet consumer demands?

Moderator: Ellen Kahler, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund


  • Donna Cassese, SAPPI
  • Craig Rawlings, Forest Business Network
  • Sam Lincoln, Deputy Director, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation

2018 Closing Panel: An Industry in Transition: A Last Word from Forest Industry Entrepreneurs and Emerging Leaders

Shifting markets, an aging workforce and global trade all could be seen as formidable challenges to Vermont’s forest and wood products businesses. But Vermont’s forest and wood products industry also has plenty of rising stars who see a future in our forests. This closing panel explores the future of Vermont’s forest and wood products industry.

Moderator: Ian Hartman, Vermont Housing and Conservation Board


  • Charlie Hancock, Consulting Forester, North Woods Forestry, Montgomery Center
  • Kyle Pratt, Logger, Jericho
  • Peter Gardner, Clifford Lumber, Hinesburg
  • Adam and Andrew Rainville, Maple Landmark, Middlebury
  • Carina Driscoll, Vermont Woodworking School, Cambridge
  • Ben Nottermann, Green Mountain Technical & Career Center, Hardwick

Vermont's Forestry Industry

Vermont’s forest products industry generates an annual economic output of $1.5 billion and supports 10,000 jobs. In addition, Vermont’s forest recreation economy generates another $1.9 billion in economic output, and supports 10,000 additional jobs. The industry was hit hard in the 2008 Recession, and finding markets for low grade wood (the majority of wood harvested from Vermont’s forests) is becoming increasingly difficult due to a sharp decline in the region’s pulp industry, combined with the low price of oil and a move away from expanding electric-only biomass in the region. Markets for high grade wood are healthy, but cannot singularly sustain Vermont’s forest products industry. Without healthy markets for low grade wood, Vermont is likely to see continued decline in the industry’s in-state infrastructure such as logging operations, sawmills and kilns, as well as the local jobs they sustained.

Our Role

Over the past 20 years, the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund has provided industry analysis, expertise and project support, which positions the Vermont Forest Products Program to have a positive impact on the state’s forestry sector in rural communities throughout the state. Vermont’s forest products industry is imperative for job creation and sustainability, providing economic, environmental, and social benefits for rural communities that have limited economic opportunities. The Vermont Forest Products Program aims to help create and sustain thousands of jobs for Vermonters.

The Vermont Forest Products Program is supported by the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative, the High Meadows Fund, the Windham Foundation as well as the U.S. Economic Development Administration and the Northern Border Regional Commission.

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