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Challenges and Opportunities for North American Hardwood Manufacturers to Adopt Customization Strategies in an Era of Increased Competition

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Research Forest Products Technologist, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Sitka, AK 99835, USA
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Research Forest Products Technologist, Northern Research Station, Delaware, OH 43015, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2018, 9(4), 186; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9040186
Received: 1 March 2018 / Revised: 27 March 2018 / Accepted: 3 April 2018 / Published: 5 April 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue At the Frontiers of Knowledge in Forest Economics)
Much of the North American wood products industry was severely impacted by the recession of 2008–2009. In addition, many sectors within this industry face intense global competition. Against this backdrop, we examine economic opportunities for hardwood manufacturers to achieve greater competitive advantage via product customization, through a literature review and synthesis. We also discuss several related themes including agility, lean manufacturing, and clustering. We found that, in globally competitive environments, hardwood producers must be agile to adapt to economic conditions and dynamic customer demand. We discuss how some sectors of the hardwood industry have effectively exhibited customized production, and subsequently fared relatively well in the current economy. We conclude the synthesis by evaluating the importance of supply chains to achieving customization for hardwood producers. In the future, supply chains will need to be configured to rapidly respond to changing consumer demands, and pressure to provide more services will likely extend further back up the supply chain to hardwood sawmills. It is expected that sustainability practices, including green supply chain management, will impact operational and economic performance of hardwood firms as well. View Full-Text
Keywords: customization; competitive advantage; lean; agile; supply chain; hardwood products customization; competitive advantage; lean; agile; supply chain; hardwood products
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Nicholls, D.L.; Bumgardner, M.S. Challenges and Opportunities for North American Hardwood Manufacturers to Adopt Customization Strategies in an Era of Increased Competition. Forests 2018, 9, 186.

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