2019 Vermont Forest Industry Summit

Annual Vermont Forest Industry Summit

The Vermont Forest Industry Network came together for the 2nd Annual Vermont Forest Industry Summit at Burke Mountain Resort in May 2019. If you work in the woods or make products out of wood, this event is for you!

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

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

Stay tuned for 2020 dates.

In their 100th year, Cabot Creamery Co-operative teamed up with the Vermont Wood Works Council and the Vermont Forest Industry Network to thank the people and businesses in Vermont who steward and care for our forests, and the craftspeople who turn our trees into products we use and cherish for a lifetime. Here’s to celebrating Cabot Creamery’s centennial and the great partnership between Vermont’s farm and forest families!

Get in Touch

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

Join the Vermont Forest Industry Network

Click here to sign up and join the Vermont Forest Industry Network.

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

Education Credits Available

Forester Credits:
5/2/19 – Vermont Forest Industry Summit (Day 1) has been assigned 1.0 category 1 & 1.5 category 2 CFE credits.
5/3/19 – Vermont Forest Industry Summit (Day 2) has been assigned 1.5 category 1 & 1.5 category 2 CFE credits.

Logger Education to Advance Professionalism (LEAP) Credits:
5/2/19 – 4 LEAP credits
5/3/19 – 4 LEAP credits

Certificates will be available at the Summit!

Thursday, May 2, 2019

1 - 2 p.m.
Registration Opens

2 - 3:20 p.m.
Welcome and Opening Plenary: The Future of our Forests (Ballroom)

Vermont’s forests are an invaluable asset – they provide us with clean water and clean air, abundant wildlife and an opportunity to connect with nature through hiking, camping, skiing, mountain biking and other forest-based recreation. Our forests also support Vermont’s economy through jobs in logging, forestry and milling to fine woodworking, design and building, not to mention recreation-based tourism and maple production. What does the future hold for Vermont’s forests, and our forest-based economy? Deputy Commissioner Sam Lincoln will moderate a wide-ranging discussion with some of the leading experts in our state and region to explore the challenges and opportunities that come with managing the forests of the future.

Sam Lincoln, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation

Michael Snyder, Commissioner, Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation
Charlie Hancock, North Woods Forestry
Ken Gagnon, Gagnon Lumber
Mike Rainville, Maple Landmark
Abby Long, Kingdom Trails
Emma Marvin, Butternut Mountain Farm

3:20 - 3:30 p.m.

3:30 - 5 p.m.
A choice of 4 Afternoon Breakout Sessions:

Session 1: Reducing Worker’s Compensation Rates through Logger Safety (Willoughby’s)

Learn about a new program in Vermont to improve safety in the woods and reduce worker’s compensation rates for Vermont loggers. Sam Lincoln, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, will lead a discussion about the challenges Vermont loggers face with high workers compensation rates and solutions that are in the works to reduce rates and promote safety.

Sam Lincoln, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation

John Adler, LPA Logging
Alex Barrett, Long View Forest
Nancy Cass, Cass Insurance
Rocky Bunnell, Log Contractor

Session 2: Reinvesting in the Vermont Sawmill (Ballroom)

The number of sawmills in Vermont has been declining for several years. However, many of those that remain are investing in the future. The panel will explore whether the loss of sawmills in Vermont has resulted in a loss in capacity to fulfill market needs in the state and region. They will also will discuss what investments Vermont sawmills are making to stay competitive, and explore what is needed to ensure remaining mills are successful and also what, if any, gaps exist that new or expanded mills could fill.

Eric Kingsley, Innovative Natural Resource Solutions

Paul Frederick, Wood Utilization Manager, Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation
Bill Sayre, Co-Owner, A. Johnson Lumber
Trevor Allard, Allard Lumber
Colleen Goodridge, Owner, Goodridge Lumber
Joel Currier, Currier Forest Products

Session 3: From Tree to Table: Tapping into Vermont Tourists’ Desire for Forest-Based Experiences (Witherell 2 & 3)

Forest-based recreation is on the rise, and more and more, tourists are seeking unique experiences during their travels in the Green Mountain State. Vermont’s forest and wood products industry has the potential to tap into this growing market by re-connecting visitors to where their wood products come from just as farms and food producers have re-connected people to where food comes from. The panel will explore example in the forest and wood products sectors of where businesses can provide unique visitor experiences while also helping visitors make positive connections between the forests they treasure and the wood products they use in their everyday lives.

Tim Tierney, Agency of Commerce and Community Development

Charles Shackleton, ShackletonThomas
Joe Short, Northern Forest Center
April Lemay, April’s Maple

Session 4: SEO: What Is It, and Why Do I Need It? How to Get Your Business Discovered Online (Witherell 1)

Learn DIY tips and tricks to easily improve your website’s search engine rankings with Kelly Nottermann of Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund. Search Engine Optimization (a.k.a. SEO) doesn’t have to be complicated. Kelly will share some current SEO trends and practical tactics you can use to help more people find your business through Google search. Optional homework: Enter the name of your business into an online search and see how many times you appear on the first page of results.

5 - 6 p.m.
Happy Hour

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

6 - 8:30 p.m.
Dinner (Ballroom)

Enjoy a sit-down dinner with colleagues and friends and take in a special viewing of a new video, “The Life of a Tree,” part of Cabot Creamery’s centennial celebration. Brief remarks by Roberta MacDonald, senior vice president of marketing, Cabot Creamery Cooperative

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, Morning Keynote and Network Discussion
Keynote Address: The Future of Wood

Our keynote speaker is Donna Cassese, who recently retired after four decades at pulp and paper giant Sappi and now consults for the company and sits on the executive committee of the Maine Forest Economy Growth Initiative. Donna will discuss the promising work being done across the globe to develop new and innovative products made from wood, from jet fuel to soccer balls to clothing to food additives. You name it, it might be made of wood someday!

Donna Cassese graduated from UMO with a B.S. in Forest Management and worked for Sappi for over 40 years. She has had diverse roles within forestry, operations, and manufacturing.  After nearly 15 years as a forester in both Maine and Alabama she transitioned into managerial roles in the Woodyard, Waste Treatment, Pulp Sales and Human Resources at the Somerset Mill in Skowhegan, Maine. Following these roles, Donna held the position of Plant Manager at Sappi’s Allentown Pennsylvania converting facility and then transitioned into the Supply Chain group at the Somerset Mill. In 2006 Donna became the Director of Inside Sales for Sappi’s North American operations. In 2008, Donna assumed responsibility for the Westbrook Mill as Managing Director. In 2014 Donna returned to forestry as the Director of Wood Supply Strategy with responsibility for developing and implementing wood supply strategy for Sappi’s mills in Maine and Minnesota. In January of 2018 Donna retired and now works as a consultant for Sappi leading government relations work in Maine.

Following Donna’s presentation and Q&A, we will facilitate a discussion of potential products in various stages of research, development and commercialization, and gain insights from the audience about where is Vermont’s sweet spot is when it comes to the next generation of wood products.

10:30 - 11 a.m.
Break – (Darling Room)

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

11 - 12:30 p.m.
A choice of 4 Morning Breakout Sessions:

Session 1: Dry Wood Chips - Current and Future Market Opportunities (Willoughby’s)

Join this panel discussion to learn about the production and market opportunity for dry wood chips. Dry chips are cheaper and simper to produce than wood pellets and their systems are less expensive to install than green chips. They can be scaled down to a residential sized boiler or up to a very large commercial system. Froling Energy in Peterborough, NH is creating and distributing dry chips and will present on why they pursued this market, their drying process, and distribution system. A panel discussion and Q&A will follow.

Emma Hanson, Wood Energy Coordinator, Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation

Mark Froling, Froling Energy
Adam Sherman, Biomass Energy Resource Center
Mike Davey, Energy Efficient Investments, Inc.

Session 2: Trends in Design – How Vermont Wood Products Stack Up (Edmund’s)

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

Jon Blatchford, Vermont Wood Works Council; General Manager, J.K. Adams

Peggy Farabaugh, Vermont Woods Studios
David Hurwitz, David Hurwitz Originals
James Murray, Simon Pearce

Session 3: Success(ion) Planning – Options for Businesses to Consider (Witherell 2&3)

Starting, growing and managing a business is hard work. But without a well thought out exit strategy, a business runs the risk of being forced to close its doors leaving employees – and owners – high and dry. Learn about the various options for your business when you want to move on.

Ellen Kahler, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund

Janice St. Onge, President, Flexible Capital Fund
Ken Gagnon, Gagnon Lumber
Timo Bradley, Timberhomes

Session 4: Telling Your Story (Witherell 1)

With a year of Vermont forest and wood products stories under our belt, we think we’re onto something! The Vermont Forest Industry Network will share results of our story-telling efforts to help raise the profile of Vermont’s forest and wood products industry. We’ll be joined by a Cabot Creamery and others to talk about effective story telling that any forest or wood products business can do, and why it is a critical component of any good marketing plan.

Kelly Nottermann, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund

Christine McGowan, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund
Emily Bradbury, Emily Bradbury Communications
Amy Richardson, Richardson Family Farm

12:30 - 2 p.m.
Buffet Lunch in the Day Lodge

Closing Remarks and selection of raffle winners (must be present to win).

2 p.m.
Summit Ends

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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