Educational needs of the forest products industry in Minnesota and Virginia in 2012

Omar Espinoza, Robert Smith, Scott Lyon, Henry Quesada-Pineda, Brian H. Bond

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The forest products industry has been greatly impacted by the Great Recession, with many firms reducing output or closing operations to remain competitive. Educational training has also been a casualty of cost reduction efforts by firms. Yet, we know that a well-trained workforce is better prepared to compete, is more innovative, and is a long-term competitive advantage fOr companies. This research looked at current educational needs in Minnesota and Virginia by conducting an electronic survey and personal interviews with management personnel in the forest products industry. A key finding was that the factors that have impacted firms since the start of the recession (2008) were similar between states and included the housing market, transportation costs, energy costs, and changing customer demand. Results by size of firm and type of firm varied significantly, and training needs differed by state and size and type of firm. The identified training needs included quality/process control, process improvement, marketing, sales, motivating personnel, and total quality management. Finns rated personal visits and short courses as the primary methods of providing training. During the in-person interviews, managers were asked about the reasons fOr their companies' success during the recession. In Virginia, they felt that being customer focused, flexible, and diversified and having good financial management were the key issues. In Minnesota, they believed having high-quality products and good customer relationships, being "lean," controlling costs, and being flexible were their success factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number12-00106
Pages (from-to)613-622
Number of pages10
JournalForest Products Journal
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - 2012


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