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St. Louis 2024 NHLA Annual Convention & Exhibit Showcase | Register for the NHLA Convention online

Speakers & Sessions

Discover Enlightening Speakers & Dynamic Ed Sessions

Prepare to be enlightened by industry experts, thought leaders, and visionaries who will share their expertise and insights into the future of hardwood. From our compelling Keynote Speaker to an array of interactive discussions, our speakers will equip you with invaluable knowledge and strategies to thrive in a rapidly evolving industry landscape.

Whether you're seeking to expand your professional network, enhance your industry knowledge, or gain inspiration for future endeavors, our lineup of speakers and educational sessions are your gateway to success. Be sure to follow us on our social platforms @NHLA_Official and subscribe to our newsletter to stay in the loop about updates and new sessions!

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Keynote Speaker

Eric Traupe

National Intelligence Leader
Former CIA Assistant Director

Eric Traupe was the keynote speaker at the 2023 NHLA Convention.  Eric is a powerful voice in the Intelligence Community and a leading national security professional. Eric is the former assistant director of the CIA for the Near East and served on the front lines of U.S. counterterrorism efforts for more than 20 years. 

Kevin shared his experiences to explain proven strategies for embracing the principles of servant leadership for more impactful collaboration across organizational and cultural boundaries. 

Sponsored by NWH

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Eric Traupe is a trusted advisor to our nation’s highest-ranking leaders. He has advised CIA directors, presidents, cabinet and military officials, and members of Congress. He has also participated in momentous White House strategic, policy, and resource decisions. Traupe’s leadership, acumen, and unmatched ability to cultivate enduring relationships between the U.S. and its foreign partners continue to be heralded in intelligence circles.

Traupe is an inclusive and transformational leader whose “exemplary leadership will reverberate across the CIA for decades,” as noted by the agency’s top officials. To complement his highly sought-after leadership insights, Traupe is masterfully skilled at engaging audiences with his captivating perspectives on today’s top issues.

Throughout his tenure with the CIA, he thrived in assignments that required crisis management skills, sound judgment, and an ability to assess internal and external risks. As a member of the CIA’s Expanded Corporate Board, Traupe led thousands of officers from different professional units, developed and executed multi-billion-dollar budgets, and addressed acute intelligence and foreign policy challenges on behalf of the CIA director. He expertly assessed geopolitical and economic trends, forecasted key budgetary investments, and weighed the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact to ensure his workforce maintained cohesion, resiliency, and mission focus.

Prior to the CIA, Traupe served in the United States Marine Corps for nearly 10 years. He held several command and staff assignments and completed deployments to the Middle East, Africa, the Balkans, Japan, and Europe. Traupe played a key role in managing three separate non-combatant evacuation operations in The Gambia, Albania, and Zaire, during which a total of 1,500 U.S. citizens were safely rescued.

Since leaving the public sector, Traupe founded Azimuth Global LLC, a consulting firm that provides strategic advisory services to Fortune 100 companies across sectors. He is also the president of Capella Federal Inc. and a senior advisor at WestExec Advisors. Additionally, Traupe is an ambassador for the Third Option Foundation and serves on the boards of large and emerging technology companies.

Consistently recognized as a strategic thinker and collaborative leader, Traupe’s contributions to the Intelligence Community have been recognized with several honors, including the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal, Clandestine Service Career Award, CIA’s Director Award (twice), George W. Bush Award for Excellence, and the Presidential Rank Award — to name a few.

He holds an MBA in international business from American University and a BA in communications from the University of Michigan, where he starred as a linebacker participating in two Rose Bowls and a Gator Bowl.

Education Session: A Guide to Hardwood Trends, Forecasts, and Insights for 2024 – Part One

Sponsored by A.W. Stiles Contractors, Inc.

Hear from designers, educators, and trend influencers on the need to market and show hardwood,  as well as the trends that are going to impact the hardwood industry.  Panelists include:

  • Sally Augustin, PhD, Principal at Design With Science
  • Kenn Busch, Founder of Material Intelligence LLC and Climate Positive NOW
  • Mark Harms, Global Marketing Director at Sherwin Williams

Education Session: From Automation to Ale, Exploring AI over Drinks

Sponsored by Robinson Lumber

Customer expectations, market dynamics, and technology are transforming dramatically. Hear from panelists who have embraced technology. Learn about their initiatives, challenges, and successes. 

This panel was moderated by Garner Robinson, CEO of Robinson Lumber Company. 

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Panelists include:

  • Susan Coulombe, General Manager of JD Irving Limited
  • Mike Fitzgerald, COO of Cascade Hardwood LLC
  • Josh Green, Operations Engineer with Middle Tennessee Lumber

Grab a brew and join the conversation. We’ll have time for questions and audience discussion.

Following this session, all convention attendees are invited to tour Robinson Lumber Company’s flagship concentration yard in New Albany, Indiana – just 14 minutes from the Omni Hotel.

Enhancing Global Market Access—EUDR, Certification, and the Changing Policy Environment

Sponsored by Pennsylvania Lumbermens Mutual Insurance Company

American Hardwood Export Council Executive Director Mike Snow discusses the European Union’s Deforestation Regulation (EUDR), certification systems, and the overall environment for U.S. hardwood exports. Guest speakers include Phil Guillery, Rupert Oliver, and the AHEC global directors. 

Education Session: Personal Investing 101, Eric Lynn

Sponsored by Delta ERC

A simple discussion for those who want to understand how they and their company should be investing in the future.

Education Session: A Guide to Hardwood Trends, Forecasts, and Insights for 2024 – Part Two

Sponsored by Ressources Lumber

This session features a panel discussion of hardwood consumption trends and their impacts on the hardwood manufacturing process. Topics discussed include standardization of frame/dimension and pallet stock, upticks in urban wood usage, rustic grades, and changes in the standard for the NHLA Facility Grade Certification Program. Panel Speakers included:

  • Jason Horton, Hardwood Lumber Buyer for Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc.
  • Michael Born, Co-Founder of Urban Wood Economy
  • Dana Spessert, NHLA Chief Inspector


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