Materials like plywood and gypsum haven’t changed much in decades, but engineered wood is continuously evolving. While LP is more easily able to connect with university students studying design, finding tomorrow’s innovators can be challenging because there’s a limited number of college graduates with experience in wood-based composite research.
“In a good economy like we currently have, it’s hard to find highly skilled people in any field, not just the engineered wood industry,” says Kevin Line, LP’s Innovation Manager for New Product Development. "Fortunately, LP is a member and sponsor of the Wood-Based Composites Center, an NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center. There are two universities - Oregon State and Virginia Tech - that are taking the lead in basic research. North Carolina State, Michigan State and Auburn are also making contributions there. In the realm of applied research - where we take the basic research and make products with it - there are two schools in the forefront: The University of Maine and Michigan Tech in Houghton. We have contracts with both schools to do prototyping and testing."
A recent example of this is the decay testing done by Michigan Tech on the new LP Elements™ Performance Fencing. LP understood that the market was looking for a fencing material with the look of traditional wood but with the low maintenance and consistent quality that an engineered wood product provides. Line was instrumental in developing the only high performing engineered wood fencing product on the market-marking the latest breakthrough in the fencing industry since the mid-1980s. Through the testing partnership, the LP Elements fencing product has been put through a battery of extreme weather tests from Hawaii to the Florida Keys to see how it stands up against damaging hail and high impact, punishing UV rays and heat, harsh winter conditions, high-velocity hurricane wind zones, extreme rain and humidity and corrosive salt spray.
Similar to LP Elements rigorous testing, LP Legacy® sub-flooring is Tested Extreme® against the elements from Canada to Mexico to show how the strength and stiffness of LP Legacy stands up even in the toughest conditions—including sharks.
"The Consortium works well because there are biannual visits to both the university campuses and the industry-partner sites," adds Line. "Students came to our headquarters in Nashville last fall and we got to know each other better. It makes it easy to follow up when there's a job opening."
Line has a keen eye for talent because he has worked in both aerospace and the building solutions field. "Aerospace projects move very slowly, sometimes stretching 10 years or more," he says. "LP operates at a much faster pace. My first project here was to source, buy, install and commission a new manufacturing line in six months."
As LP grows, it becomes increasingly important to find versatile employees like Line who don't mind multi-tasking to work at LP. "This is a fast-paced environment that requires both people skills and research abilities," he says. "Every week, I interact with Nashville colleagues, customers and many people at the mills. Consortium graduates who come here get to see research turned into successful new products."
There are only two ways to boost your bottom line: increase revenue and cut costs. In this blog, we'll explore innovative ways for builders to cut costs in order to increase homebuilder profit margins - and we'll examine revenue enhancement in a future post.Continue Reading
According to the latest American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau, about 4 million people now work in residential construction (both single-family and multifamily) - down from the 5 million who were employed just before the Great Recession. Although the workforce has shrunk by 20 percent nationwide, some parts of the country are experiencing less pain than others. Similarly, light commercial construction has been reportedly back on the rise post-Recession, with IBISWorld reporting that the recovery started just before 2014 and continuing steadily through 2019 (source).
It's frustrating when factors outside of your control cause you delays or unexpected expenses during a project. Those factors could be weather delays, insufficient staffing, breakdowns in cash flow and unreliable product availability. LP devotes significant resources each year to ensure that its product availability is second to none. Because even the most innovative building solution is useless to customers unless they know that it's available when they really need it.
It's a silly name, but a "butt joint" is an application technique where two pieces of material are "butted" up against each other. It is the simplest joint to make, and a butt joint can be either end to end or end to face. Depending on the width of the wall, butt joints will occur where two pieces of lap siding come together, creating a vertical seam. LP® SmartSide® lap siding products are available in 16' lengths, and can help reduce the amount of seams where a butt joint would normally occur when using shorter pieces.