2016 has been a year like no other.  It is easy to get dragged down by uncertainty and residual emotion stemming from the long election season we just endured but I think it’s important to focus on opportunities and hope for the year to come.

There are many reasons to be optimistic. The unemployment rate is low and many areas of the country are recovering from the Great Recession. While mortgage rates have climbed, most of our customers are very excited about the prospects for home building in 2017. Hampton is starting up a new sawmill in Banks, OR in February and we’ve been busy making infrastructure upgrades and bringing new employees on board.

Local green building groups and politicians are abuzz about the prospects of cross-laminated timber (CLT) and tall wood buildings.  With the environmental advantages of building with wood instead of steel and concrete and the prospect of increased local, value-added manufacturing, CLT production could be a good fit for the Pacific Northwest and a great opportunity for struggling rural communities.

With a new administration in Washington D.C. we could see a renewed effort to address failing federal forest policies.  While I don’t expect huge changes in how federal forests are managed, I do hope the incoming administration will invest the time and resources needed to fully examine current policies and take steps to improve health and vitality of our national forests and create jobs in areas with few alternatives.

After the defeat of Measure 97 (“gross receipts tax”) in Oregon, there is hope that Democrats and Republicans will work with the business community to develop a budget that balances cost control with revenue to improve education and other critical social services we all value in Oregon.

While there are signs of a lumber trade war between the U.S. and Canada, I believe a reasonable settlement can be negotiated that is fair to both sides and accounts for Canada’s competitive advantage created by their weak currency.

Please join me in focusing on hope rather than despair as we venture into 2017.  The year ahead is full of possibility.  Let’s generate positive news of our own that will override the negativity, sensationalism, and “fake news” we have been living with for the past year.

Steve Zika
CEO, Hampton Lumber