A History of Strong Roots. Global Reach

When thirty-seven men met on April 8, 1898 in Chicago, Illinois to establish “uniformity in inspecting hardwood lumber” no one could have foretold or even imagined the impact the resulting National Hardwood Lumber Association would have on the hardwood lumber industry – an impact which has been made around the world.

Interest within the hardwood trade to establish this “uniformity” was due to the critical situation which had been experienced by the producers and sellers of hardwood lumber during the previous decade, an intolerable situation which threatened the very existence of the industry through a lack of uniform grading rules.

The first Rules Committee met with fifty-nine firms and nine markets represented.

“The entire time of the meeting was occupied by discussions of ways and means to make the work of the new organization effective and in amending and adjusting the rules of inspection that been prepared at the initial meeting. To the casual reader, the NHLA Rules Book contains just so many words, phrases and sentences describing the grading standards and trade practices in general use. But to the discriminating reader, particularly those survivors who have taken part in the development of these standards, there is seen between the lines and through the printed words a vivid picture of the stirring events out of which these rules have evolved in the progress from the unorganized confusion to the state of stability now enjoyed by the hardwood industry. The grading standards are the basis of values. Without grading rules, prices are meaningless, as they were back in 1898 when fifty-nine members of the trade determined to bring order out of the chaotic condition then existing.” From The History of the National Hardwood Lumber Association 1898-1998.

Associations in the lumber industry have proliferated over the years. Today, there are dozens of regional and state associations in the hardwood lumber industry alone. The National Hardwood Lumber Association is the only national voice for the hardwood industry.