Final Report

Western Juniper Furniture Market Research
and Design Project

June 30, 1998

Technical Coordinator and Report Author
Larry Swan, U.S. Forest Service

Background Reports and Publications
Western Juniper Furniture Market Research and Prototype Design Project
Mark C. Hanson, Hanson Studio

Western Juniper Proprietary Grade Rules (First Edition, 1998)
Bill Breedlove, Western Juniper Industry Facilitator,
and the Western Juniper Commercialization Steering Committee

Background Report - Lumber Grading Rules for Western Juniper
Don Prielipp, Wood Products Industry Private Consultant

Project Administration
Klamath County Economic Development Association

This project was funded in part with a grant from the Oregon State Lottery through the Regional Strategies Fund, administered by the State of Oregon Economic Development Department.

Regional Strategy Board Project Sponsors
South Central Region (Lead)
Baker-Malheur Region
North-Central Region

Financial Assistance and Other Contributions Are Gratefully Acknowledged From the Following Companies and Organizations:
Connolly Wood Products, Bend, OR.
Hanson Studio, Portland, OR.
Pendleton Woolen Mills, Portland, OR.
The Wood Shed, Mitchell, OR.
4-Mac Industries, Dairy, OR.
Northwest Forest Industries, Paisley, OR.
Artistry in Wood, Paisley, OR.
Al DeGormo, Bend, OR.
Walters Personalization, Bend, OR.
Bear Creek Woodworks, Baker City, OR.
U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, OR.
Ed Burke, University of Montana, Missoula, MT.
Oregon State University, Wood Products Extension, Klamath Falls, OR.



TABLE OF CONTENTS




June 30, 1997

The purpose of this project was to identify a promising market niche for western juniper furniture, and develop a product line targeted at this niche with at least three manufacturers working together in a flexible manufacturing network. Over 30 different manufacturers were visited or consulted during the course of this project, as well as at least 20 retail stores or buyers for catalog or retail operations.

"Gifts and accessories" was identified as the most promising market niche for juniper products, based on an assessment of the capabilities of interested manufacturers and preliminary market research. Prototypes were fabricated, market feedback obtained, and sales leads developed.

It became evident early in the "gifts and accessories" market feedback and sales lead development process that the best business prospects for the prototypes fabricated were larger retailers and catalog operations. Unfortunately, product development and supplier requirements were far beyond what previously identified small manufacturers could provide. For example, very few of the manufacturers interested in producing juniper products can afford the time and resources necessary to develop a full "gifts and accessories" product line, respond to high volume orders in a timely manner, and carry inventory and production costs for three months or more. The project then refocused efforts on smaller "gifts and accessories" buyers, such as stand-alone retail outlets.

The most productive value-added niche market identified and confirmed during this project began as a "gifts and accessories" sales call, but ended-up as an order for "store displays". There is now a full juniper store display product line (21 total items) in 37 Pendleton Woolen Mill retail stores across the U.S. Additional display products are under development. There are six companies involved in the flexible manufacturing network formed to service this account. It is expected other companies will be added to the flexible network as the display product line expands.

A draft set of log sort evaluation criteria and lumber grading rules were developed as part of this project. These draft criteria and rules were later modified and published as "Proprietary Log Sort and Grade" standards by the Western Juniper Commercialization Steering Committee (available from Bill Breedlove, 541/850-4317; $10 for color pocket-size and regular formats or on-line at www.westernjuniper.org/graderules.pdf).

Recommendations were made about how to help develop a juniper value-added industry segment:

Thank you to all those who assisted and participated in this project. None of this could have happened without so many willing and knowledgeable cooperators.

Sincerely,

LARRY SWAN
U.S. Forest Service
Co-Chair, Western Juniper Commercialization Steering Committee

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Abstract

Project Purpose and Need

The purpose of this project was to identify a promising market niche for western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis) furniture, and develop a product line targeted at this niche in cooperation with at least three manufacturers working together in a flexible manufacturing network. (For this project, a "flexible network" consists of three or more companies cooperating to achieve a mutual goal. The emphasis here is on manufacturing, but flexible networks could just as well involve marketing, distribution, workers compensation, or any other area of mutual interest and benefit.)

Western juniper is the most under-utilized wood fiber resource in Oregon. Factors contributing to this situation include harvest costs, taper, numerous and large limbs, lack of industry infrastructure specific to juniper, and market acceptance. Markets and product lines are needed which add sufficient value to make harvest, manufacturing, and distribution economically feasible, and take advantage of the unique characteristics of juniper lumber.

Project Work Plan

This project consisted of six overlapping and interactive phases: 1) Preliminary market research; 2) Identifying interested manufacturers and evaluating capabilities; 3) Design and fabrication of prototypes, based on preliminary market research and manufacturer capabilities; 4) Prototype test marketing; 5) Niche market confirmation and sales leads follow-up; and 6) Drafting basic log evaluation criteria and lumber grade rules to expedite raw material procurement and processing.

Results Summary

Preliminary market research performed for this project indicated that efforts should focus on specialty value-added markets which take advantage of the unique characteristics of juniper, rather than try to compete with traditional Pacific Northwest commercial species in large markets. Among the unique and special characteristics identified were appearance, fragrance, and "finishability". Drawbacks to using juniper were also identified. These included inconsistent supply, the need to use shorter lengths, and weak longitudinal grain structure. Potential specialty markets identified included "gifts and accessories" and "store displays".

Over 30 different manufacturers were visited or consulted during the course of this project about their interest in developing value-added juniper product lines, as well as their capabilities (such as manufacturing equipment and experience, financial resources, and business experience). Although interest was high, capabilities and experience varied widely.

The "gifts and accessories" specialty market was chosen as the primary focus of the prototypes designed and produced for this project, based on a rough assessment of interested manufacturers and preliminary market research. Prototypes were purposefully designed so they could be manufactured with basic woodworking equipment.

Ten large and small "gifts and accessories" retailers were visited and shown the prototypes. Retailers were asked questions concerning current and future product lines and needs, and their reactions to the prototypes developed for this project. Feedback was excellent and several leads were developed. However, there was a large discrepancy between the best business prospects, who happened to be large retailers and catalog companies, and the small manufacturers who were most interested in this type of market. At this point, very few juniper manufacturers can afford the time and resources necessary to develop a full "gifts and accessories" product line, respond to high volume orders in a timely manner, and carry inventory and production costs for three months or more.

Efforts were then made to find smaller markets. Based on market research performed for this project, several leads were followed-up and orders obtained from buyers ranging from remanufacturers, such as Burnich Frame and Moulding (Missoula, MT.), to small, independent retailers, such as the Capital Gift Shop (Salem). Total value of orders placed to-date (June, 1998) is about $6,000. The manufacturing flexible network for the various markets involved is coordinated by Bill Breedlove, Western Juniper Industry Facilitator. It currently consists of six companies, only one of which has more than two employees.

The most productive niche market identified and confirmed was for "store displays". There is now a full line of juniper store display products (21 total items) in 37 Pendleton Woolen Mill retail stores across the U.S. Additional products are under development. Over $19,000 in sales has been generated from eight separate orders.

The Western Juniper Facilitator (Bill Breedlove) performs a key role in coordinating the manufacturing flexible network which supplies store display products for Pendleton. There are five companies currently involved; more are expected to be added as the Pendleton display product line expands.

A draft set of log sort evaluation criteria and lumber grading rules were developed as part of this project. The draft criteria and rules were later modified and published as "Proprietary Log Sort and Grade" standards by the Western Juniper Commercialization Steering Committee (available from Bill Breedlove, 541/850-4317; $10 for color pocket-size and regular formats, or on-line at www.westernjuniper.org/graderules.pdf).

Recommendations

Recommendations are offered about how to help develop a juniper value-added industry:

Compensate for Lack of Industry Infrastructure - A process or person(s) is needed to expedite and facilitate marketing and filling orders due to lack of juniper industry infrastructure. For example, before an order can be filled, landowners have to be connected to harvesters, harvesters to primary processors, primary processors to dry kiln facilities, kiln-dried lumber delivered to secondary processors, and final products shipped to end-users. The Western Juniper Industry Facilitator (Bill Breedlove), funded by the State of Oregon through its Regional Strategies Program, currently manages this process.

Continue Support for Facilitated Flexible Networks - A major issue facing most small, rural manufacturers is marketing, which includes everything from product line development to distribution and sales. One way to deal with this issue is to form informal cooperative networks. An Industry Facilitator can assist independent and isolated small manufacturers without getting into the political and administrative costs necessary for a more formal network, such as a cooperative or association.

Appoint a Single Administrator for Juniper Revolving Loan Fund Applications - Another major issue facing most small, rural manufacturers, especially those interested in juniper, is access to working capital. Currently, the lender of last resort for juniper manufacturers in Eastern Oregon are various regional revolving loan funds administered by local service providers. These service providers have a wide-range of wood products business expertise and exposure to the juniper industry. A single lead service provider and advisory group, similar to what was done for the special Oregon Regional Strategies-funded forest products marketing program, will increase expertise, encourage consistency, and provide oversight for the various economic development boards who want to contribute.

Identify and Cooperatively Participate in Key Trade Shows - Another way to assist small and medium manufacturers is to help them target specific trade shows, and cooperatively fund participation and trade show booth development. For example, 10 western juniper manufacturers recently participated in well-attended log and timber frame home shows in Portland and Tacoma. Coordination was provided by the Industry Facilitator and costs were shared through a special Oregon Regional Strategies-funded forest products marketing program.

Maintain Lumber Inventory - Manufacturers currently hesitate to solicit or accept orders which require large quantities (more than 5,000 board feet) of high quality raw material, due in part to working capital needs and inventory costs. It is estimated that about 250,000 board feet of inventory is needed on a state-wide basis to give manufacturers the flexibility and confidence to solicit and accept larger orders, and increase buyer confidence in the ability of the industry to fill larger orders.

Pursue Untapped Sales Leads - Mark Hanson's report (included in its entirety as an appendix) provides sales leads for the "gifts and accessories" market as well as a list of key trade shows. It is important to note that there has been a two-year time lag between when Hanson initially made contact with the people listed and this report.

Highlight Unique and Special Characteristics - Hanson makes recommendations about how to incorporate some of the unique and special characteristics of juniper into attractive design elements. For example, he suggests that a small woven accent could become a well-recognized "trademark" of western juniper products. Retailer response to his woven accent design on one of the prototypes was universally positive.

Continue Publication of the Western Juniper Newsletter - Continuation of the Western Juniper Newsletter is considered critical to expedite communication between the diverse individuals and groups who are interested in the management and commercialization of western juniper. Circulation has increased over 300% since the first issue (the mailing list is now over 800) and many people report loaning their copies to other interested individuals and groups. The first four issues of the newsletter were partially subsidized through the Oregon Regional Strategies Program. Other funding sources must be developed.

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Project Purpose

The purpose of this project was to identify a promising market niche for western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis) furniture, and develop a product line targeted at this niche in cooperation with at least three manufacturers working together in a flexible manufacturing network.(1)

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Project Work Plan

The project consisted of the following overlapping and interactive phases:

Mark Hanson, Hanson Studio (Portland), was the primary subcontractor for the market research, prototype product line design and fabrication, and test marketing phases. Hanson's activities, results, and recommendations are documented in Appendix A, Western Juniper Furniture Market Research and Prototype Design Report.

Bill Breedlove, Western Juniper Industry Facilitator, Don Prielipp, a wood products industry private consultant, and members of the ad hoc Western Juniper Commercialization Industry Steering Committee compiled the juniper lumber grading rules. Larry Swan, U.S. Forest Service, compiled the juniper log sort evaluation criteria based on discussions with saw mill operators and personal observations (McGee personal communication; Peterson personal communication) (see Appendix B[1], Western Juniper Proprietary Grade [First Edition, 1998], and Appendix B[2], Background Report - Lumber Grading Rules for Western Juniper).

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Project Background

Western juniper is the most under-utilized wood fiber resource in Oregon. Factors contributing to this situation include harvest costs, taper, numerous and large limbs, lack of industry infrastructure specific to juniper, and market acceptance. Markets and product lines are needed which add sufficient value to make harvest, manufacturing, and distribution economically feasible, and take advantage of the unique characteristics of juniper lumber.

This project was formulated and guided by members of the ad hoc Western Juniper Commercialization Steering Committee, a loosely-organized cooperative venture of the U.S. Forest Service, Northwest Wood Products Association (formerly the Wood Products Competitiveness Corporation), and Oregon State University Extension. Steering Committee membership is composed of wood products industry representatives (small, medium, and large companies), government agencies, private landowners, and non-profit economic development and environmental organizations.

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Environmental and Social Setting

There are approximately 3.8 million acres of western juniper woodlands (defined as having at least 10% juniper canopy cover) within the primary range of the species in Eastern Oregon, Northeastern California, and Southwestern Idaho. About 58% of this acreage is on public lands and about 42% is privately owned. These figures do not include literally millions more acres of scattered juniper and areas in which young juniper are just now becoming apparent on standard resolution aerial photography (Bolsinger 1989; Gedney personal communication; Chojnacky 1991; Woudenberg personal communication in Swan 1997).

Western juniper is the least-utilized wood fiber resource in this region. Total woodland volume is estimated to be at least 691 million cubic feet, of which about 39% is on private lands and 61% is on public lands. These totals include estimates for western juniper volume on commercial forest lands or other forested lands (Bolsinger 1989; Gedney personal communication; Chojnacky 1991; Woudenberg personal communication in Swan 1997).

The area dominated by western juniper represents a three- to ten-fold increase since the late 1800s. Reasons for this expansion are complex, but generally involve absence of fire, domestic livestock grazing, and short-term changes in climatic patterns. Richard Miller, Oregon State University, states that western juniper stands appear denser today than at any time during the past 5,000 years (personal communication). Expansion appears to have slowed in California and much of Oregon, but field investigations indicate a continuation of the trend in some areas (Eddleman personal communication).

The expansion and increasing density of western juniper woodlands greatly concern private landowners, government land managers, and scientists. Many juniper-dominated sites show clear evidence of watershed degradation, loss of site productivity, decrease in forage production, loss of wildlife habitat, and over-all reduction in biodiversity (Eddleman 1995; Bedell et al. 1993).

Numerous private landowners undertake juniper clearing operations every year in Eastern Oregon and Northeastern California. In total, clearing operations probably average 5,000 to 10,000 acres per year, which amounts to an estimated 1.1 to 2.2 million cubic feet of juniper fiber(2) (Okholm personal communication; Gedney in Haugen 1993). Eddleman offers an estimate of around 40,000 acres of western juniper woodlands treated over the last 10 years (Eddleman et al. 1995 in Miller et al. 1995:9). Due to lack of demand and markets, as well as economics, the juniper removed is often piled and burnt, or simply left to decompose after being knocked-down or cut. Government agencies are currently less active in clearing juniper than private landowners, due to concerns about legal challenges and lack of funding for such projects.

Clearing operations are expected to continue despite a decrease in government subsidies. According to Tom Birch, a Forest Service scientist who summarized data from a national study of forested land owners and their harvest plans, there are probably at least 3,000 ranchers in Oregon and California who plan to thin their juniper woodlands within the next 10 years, at a minimum cost of more than 13 million dollars (personal communication about unpublished research data).(3) As one rancher puts it: "I feel like I'm buying my land a second time due to costs of beating back the juniper." (Otley personal communication).

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Historic and Current Western Juniper Wood Product Markets

The majority of western juniper harvested over the years has been used for fence posts and firewood. There are reports going back at least 50 years though, of mills processing and test marketing the species (Loveness personal communication). The earliest wood products research known to involve western juniper began in 1949, as part of an Oregon State University study of the service life of treated and untreated posts (Miller 1986).(4) The research literature also indicates temporary interest in the 1950s for use of juniper in composites and extractive oil, and a surge of interest in the late 1970s due to concerns about an energy crisis.

The most successful commercial western juniper operation of any size was a mill owned and operated by Gary Gumpert in Prineville in the mid- to late-1970s (five to 10 employees). Primary product emphasis was interior paneling, but other products were made in the course of refining the panel product (such as furniture and mantel pieces). At the time the mill was sold, about one-third of the production was juniper and the remainder incense cedar (Gumpert personal communication in Swan 1996).

Probably the greatest use of juniper over the last 10 years has been as a source of fuel for power generation. In the early- to mid-1990s, at least a thousand acres of juniper woodlands in Northeastern California were harvested for power generation biomass (Ward personal communication). Power generation markets for juniper have virtually disappeared over the last several years though, due to changes in state law and tax structure governing alternative power purchases.

In early 1995, when Oregon lottery funding for the Western Juniper Furniture Market Research and Design Project was approved by Governor Kitzhaber, there were probably between five to 10 mostly small, "cottage industry" size manufacturers who used juniper on an inconsistent basis, mainly for high-end, rustic roundwood furniture. Monthly lumber production, mostly by portable mills, probably averaged less than 5,000 board feet per month. The rough, green lumber produced was used mainly for exterior, low-value applications such as corrals, barns, and other outbuildings (Breedlove personal communication). There was also a short-term increase in production of juniper chips from mid-1994 through late-1995 (probably no more than 20,000 bone dry tons [Vanderpol personal communication]) because of a temporary peak in chip prices.

Substantial progress has been made over the last year or two, due in large part to the efforts of the ad hoc Western Juniper Commercialization Steering Committee and State of Oregon funding support for activities of the Western Juniper Industry Facilitator (currently Bill Breedlove, Klamath Falls). For example, there are now at least 35 manufacturers in Eastern Oregon who process juniper for various primary and secondary markets (probably only five to 10 consistently). Products include rough green lumber for farm and ranch use, shaped logs and beams for log homes, heartwood posts, landscape timbers, decking, fencing, flooring, interior paneling, architectural doors, cabinetry, furniture, store displays, and novelties. It is estimated total juniper lumber production now averages 10,000 to 15,000 board feet per month.

Fiber product production has lagged due to a combination of low chip prices and high juniper harvest costs. However, a juniper shavings mill in Klamath Falls, with a projected annual processing capacity of 12,000 green tons, is scheduled to start production before the end of 1998 (which will permit the thinning of 600 to 800 juniper woodland acres per year).

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Preliminary Market Research

Considerable information was available from several years of informal market research and manufacturing trials by the time the Western Juniper Furniture Marketing Research and Prototype Design Project was begun in late 1995. The basic message from over 30 primary and secondary manufacturers was that specialty rather than commodity markets needed to be pursued. The main reasons were: 1) Lack of a consistent flow of higher-quality juniper in the supply pipeline; 2) High raw material costs (averaging $550-$600 per thousand board feet for kiln-dried mill run lumber); and 3) Lower recovery ratios than traditional commercial Pacific Northwest species.

At the same time, critical manufacturing and processing information was just becoming available from pioneering studies conducted by Ed Burke (University of Montana, Missoula) concerning juniper physical and mechanical characteristics, and Mike Milota (Forest Research Laboratory, Oregon State University, Corvallis) concerning juniper drying schedules (Burke 1994a, 1994b, 1994c, 1994d, 1994e, 1994f, 1994g; Milota 1995a, 1995b, 1996; Milota and Swan 1995; Leavengood and Swan 1997).

The first step taken to determine which specialty markets to explore consisted of defining the unique and special characteristics of western juniper. A partial list follows:

The unique characteristics of juniper also constrain fabrication techniques and potential product line development. These include:

A number of potential specialty markets were suggested by looking at products manufactured and distributed in Oregon out of eastern redcedar (Leavengood and Swan 1994), analysis of the unique and special characteristics of western juniper, and results of interviews conducted with manufacturers:

Product lines for all six of these potential specialty markets could be fabricated with shorter pieces, benefit from the rustic appearance of the wood contrasted with its fine finishing qualities, and highlight its fragrance (especially for indoor applications).

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Potential Manufacturer Interest and Capabilities

More than 30 manufacturers, mostly located in Eastern Oregon, were visited or consulted from late 1995 through 1996 concerning their interest in developing juniper furniture or other value-added product lines (see Appendix C, Partial List of Manufacturer Contacts). Capabilities were also informally assessed (such as manufacturing equipment and experience, financial resources, and business experience). Hanson's report summarizes a portion of those contacts (see Appendix A, Western Juniper Furniture Market Research and Prototype Design Report).

Although interest was high, manufacturing capabilities and experience differed widely, as did business experience and personal financing.

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Prototype Product Line Design and Fabrication

The primary market focus of the first series of product prototypes was "gifts and accessories". This decision was based on observations of manufacturing experience and capabilities of Eastern Oregon wood products manufacturers interested in juniper, as well as initial feedback from at least 10 different retailers (see Appendix F, Partial List of Market Research Contacts, 1995-96). A total of eight prototypes were developed for review with potential retailers and distributors (see Appendix D, Project Prototype Photos). Designs covered a variety of skill levels and equipment capabilities:

Prototype designs and retailer contacts are included in Hanson's report, Western Juniper Furniture Market Research and Prototype Design Report (see Appendix A).

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Prototype Product Line Retailer Feedback

Prototypes were shown to 10 large and small retailers who specialize in "gifts and accessories" (see Appendix F, Partial List of Market Research Contacts, 1995-96). Copies of the interview questions used to obtain retailer feedback as well as a Retailer Fact Sheet are included in Appendix E (Retailer Interview Questions and Retailer Western Juniper Fact Sheet).

Retailer feedback was excellent and it was evident that follow-up could generate orders. However, a large discrepancy existed between the needs of larger retailers and catalog companies who appeared most interested, and capabilities of the small juniper manufacturers who had indicated an interest in pursuing the "gifts and accessories" market. For example, larger retailers require suppliers to respond in a timely manner (30 days or less) to high volume orders (hundreds of units at a time), and carry production and inventory costs for 90 days or more before being paid.

Hanson provides a list of buyers for larger retail chain stores or catalogs, as well as a list of shops and galleries which may be interested in single items or small quantities (see Appendix A, Western Juniper Furniture Market Research and Prototype Design Report).(5)

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Niche Market Confirmation and Followup

- Pendleton Woolen Mills -

Based on feedback from several retailers and marketing insight gained through the last couple of years, an appointment was obtained with the National Retail Manager for Pendleton Woolen Mills (Portland). Retailer feedback had been very positive about the Pendleton Blanket Stool and sweater/blanket display/gift box prototypes, and the appearance and fragrance of juniper seemed to fit the style and wool goods highlighted at the Pendleton Stores visited.

The Pendleton National Retail Manager was very positive about the presentation made to him and provided sketches and dimensions of displays in which he was interested. A series of prototypes were made by Connolly Wood Products (Bend) with material provided by High Desert Wood Products (now 4-Mac Industries, Dairy). Between March, 1997 and June, 1998, Pendleton Woolen Mills, Retail Division, has placed eight separate orders totaling over $19,000. The Pendleton display product line now consists of 21 different items and is in 37 Pendleton retail store locations throughout the U.S. (see Appendix G, Pendleton Woolen Mill Retail Store Display Photos, Fact Sheet, and Prototype Poster).

Companies participating in the manufacturing flex network which services the Pendleton account are coordinated by Bill Breedlove, Western Juniper Industry Facilitator. Participants include Connolly Wood Products, 4-Mac Industries, Northwest Forest Industries (Paisley), The Wood Shed (Mitchell), Al DeGormo (Bend), and Walters Personalization (Bend). In addition, Juniper House Logs (Mitchell) contributed house logs and Bear Creek Wood Works (Baker City) contributed a bed frame for a prototype display at the Pendleton retail store in Reno. The bedroom display will be replicated in the Pendleton retail store in Washougal, WA., in 1998.

Bill Breedlove continues to work with Pendleton Woolen Mills, Retail Store Division, to expand the current juniper retail display and product line. A "Point of Purchase" display box is being prepared to hold juniper postcards (taken by Larry Turner, a professional photographer from Malin, CA.) and scented juniper sprays. A large juniper poster frame and additional wood display items are also being developed. Photos of some of the Pendleton store display items are included in Appendix G, Pendleton Woolen Mill Retail Store Display Photos, Fact Sheet, and Prototype Poster.

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- "Gifts and Accessories" and "Gifts and Awards" -

"Gifts and accessories" sales leads were followed-up with a number of small independent retailers, and a few corporate and government accounts. Potential order size appeared within the capabilities of interested western juniper manufacturers. "Gifts and accessories" and "gifts and awards" orders were obtained from the Capital Gift Shop (Salem), Oregon Economic Development Department (Salem), City of Prineville, and other small accounts for 10 different products. Orders were also obtained from several remanufacturers, such as Burnich Frame and Moulding (Missoula, MT.), who used juniper for rustic picture frame moulding. Orders to date total about $6,000.

The manufacturing flex net for the "gifts and accessories", "gifts and awards", and remanufacturer markets is coordinated by Bill Breedlove, Juniper Industry Facilitator. The flex net currently includes Northwest Forest Industries (Paisley), 4-Mac Industries (Dairy), Artistry in Wood (Paisley), Walter's Personalization Services (Bend), Al DeGormo (Bend), and Connolly Wood Products (Bend). A photo of an award produced for the Oregon Economic Development Department is included in Appendix D (Project Prototype Photos).

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Grading Rules and Standards

Grading rules and standards for western juniper have been a topic of conversation since at least 1992, when juniper commercialization activity increased in earnest. The ad hoc Western Juniper Commercialization Industry Steering Committee decided to hold off proposing rules and guidelines until a better idea of end-use products was known. By late 1997, the Steering Committee felt product lines were starting to emerge and contracted with Don Prielipp, formerly with P&M Cedar (Anderson, CA.) to assist. Prielipp has extensive experience with eastern redcedar, a species closely related to western juniper.

Prielipp's background discussion and summary is included in Appendix B(2) (Background Report - Lumber Grading Rules for Western Juniper). Appendix B(1) (Western Juniper Proprietary Grade, First Edition, 1998) contains the actual grade rules published as a result of extensive discussions involving multiple members of the Western Juniper Commercialization Steering Committee.

The emphasis of Western Juniper Proprietary Grade rules is on appearance rather than strength characteristics. Evaluation criteria for sorting logs and evaluating commercial quality of standing timber are also included. Use and certification of log and lumber rules by existing Grading Bureaus was not considered cost-effective or reasonable given the small size of the current market. The Steering Committee indicates it will reconsider the decision not to pursue special western juniper grade rules certification and a tie-in to a professional grading bureau at a later date.

Summary and Recommendations

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-Summary -

Preliminary market research performed for the Western Juniper Furniture and Market Research and Design Project indicated that efforts should focus on specialty value-added markets, which take advantage of the unique characteristics of juniper, rather than try to compete with traditional Pacific Northwest commercial species in large markets. Among the unique and special characteristics identified were appearance, fragrance, and "finishability". Drawbacks to using juniper were also identified. These included inconsistent supply, the need to use shorter lengths, and weak longitudinal grain structure. Several potential specialty markets were tentatively identified, including "gifts and accessories" and "store displays".

Over 30 different manufacturers were visited or consulted during the course of this project about their interest in developing value-added juniper product lines, as well as their capabilities (such as manufacturing equipment and experience, financial resources, and business experience). Although interest was high, capabilities and experience varied widely.

The "gifts and accessories" specialty market was chosen as the primary focus of the prototypes designed and produced for this project, based on a rough assessment of interested manufacturers and preliminary market research. Designs covered a full range of skill levels and equipment capabilities.

Ten large and small "gifts and accessories" retailers were visited and shown the prototypes produced for this project. Retailers were asked questions concerning current and future product lines and needs, and their reactions to the prototypes. Retailer feedback was excellent and several sales leads identified. However, a large discrepancy existed between the better business prospects, who were large retailers and catalog companies, and the small manufacturers who were most interested in this type of market. Very few of the juniper manufacturers can afford the time and resources necessary to develop a full "gifts and accessories" product line, respond to high volume orders in a timely manner, and carry inventory and production costs for three months or more.

Efforts were then made to find smaller markets. Based on market research performed for this project by Hanson (see Appendix A), several leads were followed-up and orders obtained by Bill Breedlove, Western Juniper Industry Facilitator. Total value of orders placed to date by small retailers, corporate and government accounts, and remanufacturers is about $6,000. The manufacturing flexible network coordinated by Mr. Breedlove for these markets consists of six companies, only one of which has more than two employees.

The most productive niche market identified and confirmed was for "store displays". There is now a full line of juniper store display products in 37 Pendleton Woolen Mill retail stores throughout the U.S. Additional products are under development. More than $19,000 sales has been generated from eight separate orders.

The Western Juniper Industry Facilitator performs a key role in coordinating the manufacturing flexible network which supplies the store display products for the Pendleton orders. There are six companies currently involved and it is expected more will be added as the Pendleton Retail store display product line expands.

Log sort evaluation criteria and lumber grading rules were developed as part of the Western Juniper Furniture and Market Research and Design Project. The effort was coordinated by Bill Breedlove, with assistance from Don Prielipp, a wood products private industry consultant, and members of the ad hoc Western Juniper Commercialization Industry Steering Committee. Larry Swan, U.S. Forest Service, compiled the "log sort evaluation criteria" based on discussions with juniper sawmill operators and personal observations.

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- Recommendations -

The following recommendations outline ways to help develop a juniper value-added industry, and are based on key problems and opportunities identified during the course of this project:

Compensate for Lack of Industry Infrastructure - A process or person(s) is needed to expedite and facilitate marketing and filling orders due to lack of juniper industry infrastructure. For example, before an order can be filled, landowners have to be connected to harvesters, harvesters to primary processors, primary processors to dry kiln facilities, kiln-dried lumber delivered to secondary processors, and final products shipped to end-users. The Western Juniper Industry Facilitator (Bill Breedlove), funded by the State of Oregon through its Regional Strategies Program, currently manages this process.

Continue Support for Facilitated Flexible Networks - A major issue facing most small, rural manufacturers is marketing, which includes everything from product line development to distribution and sales. One way to deal with this issue is to form informal cooperative networks. An Industry Facilitator can assist independent and isolated small manufacturers without getting into the political and administrative costs necessary for a more formal network, such as a cooperative or association.

Appoint a Single Administrator for Juniper Revolving Loan Fund Applications - Another major issue facing most small, rural manufacturers, especially those interested in juniper, is access to working capital. Currently, the lender of last resort for juniper manufacturers in Eastern Oregon are various regional revolving loan funds administered by local service providers. These service providers have a wide-range of wood products business expertise and exposure to the juniper industry. A single lead service provider and advisory group, similar to what was done for the special Oregon Regional Strategies-funded forest products marketing program, will increase expertise, encourage consistency, and provide oversight for the various economic development boards who want to contribute.

Identify and Cooperatively Participate in Key Trade Shows - Another way to assist small and medium manufacturers is to help them target specific trade shows, and cooperatively fund participation and trade show booth development. For example, 10 western juniper manufacturers recently participated in well-attended log and timber frame home shows in Portland and Tacoma. Coordination was provided by the Industry Facilitator and costs were shared through a special Oregon Regional Strategies-funded forest products marketing program.

Maintain Lumber Inventory - Manufacturers currently hesitate to solicit or accept orders which require large quantities (more than 5,000 board feet) of high quality raw material, due in part to working capital needs and inventory costs. It is estimated that about 250,000 board feet of inventory is needed on a state-wide basis to give manufacturers the flexibility and confidence to solicit and accept larger orders, and increase buyer confidence in the ability of the industry to fill larger orders.

Pursue Untapped Sales Leads - Mark Hanson's report (included in its entirety as an appendix) provides sales leads for the "gifts and accessories" market as well as a list of key trade shows. It is important to note that there has been a two-year time lag between when Hanson initially made contact with the people listed and this report.

Highlight Unique and Special Characteristics - Hanson makes recommendations about how to incorporate some of the unique and special characteristics of juniper into attractive design elements. For example, he suggests that a small woven accent could become a well-recognized "trademark" of western juniper products. Retailer response to his woven accent design on one of the prototypes was universally positive.

Continue Publication of the Western Juniper Newsletter - Continuation of the Western Juniper Newsletter is considered critical to expedite communication between the diverse individuals and groups who are interested in the management and commercialization of western juniper. Circulation has increased over 300% since the first issue (the mailing list is now over 800) and many people report loaning their copies to other interested individuals and groups. The first four issues of the newsletter were partially subsidized through the Oregon Regional Strategies Program. Other funding sources must be developed.

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References

Bedell, T.E., L.E. Eddleman, T. Deboodt, and C. Jacks 1993. Western juniper - Its impact and management in Oregon rangelands. Oregon State University Extension Service. EC1417 (February, 1993).

Birch, Thomas 1995. Personal communication regarding unpublished results of National Forested Lands Survey conducted by U.S. Forest Service, Research Branch. Northeast Forest Research and Experiment Station.

Bolsinger, Charles L. 1989. California's western juniper and pinyon-juniper woodlands: Area, stand characteristics, wood volumes, and fence posts. Resource Bulletin PNW-RB-166. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, OR.

Breedlove, Bill 1995, 1996, 1997. Personal communications with Western Juniper Industry Facilitator. Klamath Falls, OR.

Burke, Edwin J. 1994a. Mechanical properties of western juniper (April 7, 1994). School of Forestry, University of Montana. Unpublished report prepared for USDA Forest Service. On file Winema National Forest, Klamath Falls, OR.

Burke, Edwin J. 1994b. Standard consumer interior stain and finishes applied to western juniper (August 20, 1994). School of Forestry, University of Montana. Unpublished letter submitted to USDA Forest Service. On file Winema National Forest, Klamath Falls, OR.

Burke, Edwin J. 1994c. Fastener performance in western juniper (September 4, 1994). School of Forestry, University of Montana. Unpublished report prepared for USDA Forest Service. On file Winema National Forest, Klamath Falls, OR.

Burke, Edwin J. 1994d. Demonstration of the higher heating value and manufacture of fuel pellets from the wood of western juniper (September 19, 1994). School of Forestry, University of Montana. Unpublished report prepared for USDA Forest Service. On file Winema National Forest, Klamath Falls, OR.

Burke, Edwin J. 1994e. In-service swelling and shrinking evaluations of western juniper solid panel products (September 23, 1994). School of Forestry, University of Montana. Unpublished report prepared for USDA Forest Service. On file Winema National Forest, Klamath Falls, OR.

Burke, Edwin J. 1994f. Demonstration of the bending properties of the wood of western juniper (September 24, 1994). School of Forestry, University of Montana. Unpublished report prepared for USDA Forest Service. On file Winema National Forest, Klamath Falls, OR.

Burke, Edwin J. 1994g. Properties of some common woodworking species compared to western juniper (November 7, 1994). School of Forestry, University of Montana. Unpublished chart prepared for USDA Forest Service. On file Winema National Forest, Klamath Falls, OR. Also in Western Juniper Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 1 (January 1996). On file Oregon State University Extension, Klamath Falls, OR.

Chojnacky, David C. 1991. Southern Idaho's forest land outside national forests. Resource Bulletin INT-RB-82. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Ogden, UT.

Connolly, Mike 1995, 1996, 1997. Personal communications with owner of Connolly Wood Products, Bend, OR.

Eddleman, Lee. 1996 and 1997. Personal communications. Oregon State University, Department of Range Science, Corvallis, OR.

Eddleman, L.E., R.F. Miller, P.M. Miller, and P.L. Dysart 1995. Western juniper woodlands of the Pacific Northwest: Scientific assessment. Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Assessment Project. Report on file USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Regional Headquarters, Portland, OR.

Gedney, Donald R. 1996. Personal communications about unpublished western juniper inventory data. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, OR.

Gumpert, Gary 1995. Personal communication. Prineville, OR. in Western Juniper Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Summer 1996), "There Was This Guy in Prineville", by Larry Swan, U.S. Forest Service. Western Juniper Newsletter on file Oregon State University Extension, Klamath Falls.

Hanson, Mark 1996. Personal communications with owner of Hanson Studio, Portland, OR.

Haugen, Jerry 1993. Proceedings: Western juniper forum. Unpublished manuscript for Western Juniper Forum, Bend, OR. (September 1, 1993). On file USDA Forest Service, Winema National Forest, Klamath Falls, OR.

Leavengood, Scott and Larry Swan 1994. Summary of Missouri eastern redcedar industry study (September 26-29, 1994). Unpublished report. On file Oregon State University Extension, Klamath Falls or USDA Forest Service, Winema National Forest, Klamath Falls, OR

Leavengood, Scott and Larry Swan 1997. Final report - Western juniper drying project summary, 1993-96. Unpublished report on file Oregon State University Extension, Klamath Falls, OR.

Loveness, Ron 1995. Personal communication. Modoc Lumber, Klamath Falls, OR.

McGee, Walter. 1995, 1996, 1997. Personal communications with Walt McGee, operator of probably the only medium-size mill left in Eastern Oregon, and who is probably the most experienced juniper sawyer in the Western U.S. 4 Mac Industries, Dairy, Oregon.

Miller, Donald J. 1986. Service life of treated and untreated fence posts: 1985 post-farm report. Research Paper 48. Oregon State University, College of Forestry, Forest Research Laboratory, Corvallis.

Miller, Richard 1996. Personal communication. Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center, Burns, OR.

Miller, R.F., T. Svejcar, M. Willis, and L. Eddleman 1995. History, ecology, and management of western juniper woodlands and associated shrub lands - An annual report of preliminary results and progress for 1995. Unpublished report. On file Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center, Burns, OR.

Milota, Michael 1995a. Report on steaming of juniper. Unpublished report. 2 pp. On file Oregon State University Extension Service, Klamath Falls or Oregon State University, Forest Research Laboratory, Corvallis.

Milota, Michael 1995b. Report on pre-steaming of Juniper. Unpublished report. 7 pp. On file Oregon State University Extension Service, Klamath Falls or Oregon State University, Forest Research Laboratory, Corvallis.

Milota, Michael 1996. Saw-dry-rip for juniper. Unpublished report. 5 pp. On file Oregon State University Extension Service, Klamath Falls or Oregon State University, Forest Research Laboratory, Corvallis.

Milota, Michael and L. Swan. 1995. Drying western juniper. Unpublished report. 25 pp. On file Oregon State University Extension Service, Klamath Falls or Oregon State University, Forest Research Laboratory, Corvallis.

Okholm, Deborah 1995. Personal communication concerning results of telephone poll of Natural Resource Conservation Services offices in Eastern Oregon regarding juniper clearing. U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Regional Headquarters, Portland, OR.

Otley, Fred 1996. Personal communication (former President of Oregon Cattleman's Association). Diamond, OR.

Peterson, Roy 1996, 1997. Personal communication with owner/operator of circular saw. Has cut well over 100,000 B.F. of juniper. Monument, Oregon.

Swan, Larry. 1993. Interim report: Western juniper utilization and marketing project. Unpublished report. On file USDA Forest Service, Winema National Forest, and Oregon State University Extension, Klamath Falls, OR.

Swan, Larry 1996. Western Juniper Newsletter article: "There Was This Guy in Prineville", Vol. 1, No. 2 (Summer 1996). On file Oregon State University Extension, Klamath Falls.

Swan, Larry 1997. Final report - Western juniper harvest systems comparisons project. Unpublished report. On file USDA Forest Service, Winema National Forest, and Oregon State University Extension, Klamath Falls, OR.

Vanderpol, Bill 1995. Personal communication with retired log buyer for Weyerhaeuser Hardboard Plant, now owned by Collins Pine. Klamath Falls, OR.

Ward, Barney 1994. Personal communication. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Alturas, CA.

Western Juniper Newsletter 1995 and 1996. Various articles on management, harvest, primary processing, secondary processing, marketing, and interviews with individual manufacturers. Four issues. On file Oregon State University Extension, Klamath Falls, OR.

Woudenberg, Sharon 1997. Personal communication. U.S. Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Ogden, UT.

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1. For this project, a "flexible network" consists of three or more companies cooperating to achieve a mutual goal. The emphasis here is on manufacturing, but flexible networks could just as well involve marketing, distribution, workers compensation, or any other area of mutual interest and benefit. Return to text

2. Assuming an average of 225 cu. ft./ac. Return to text

3. Key assumption is that ranchers who intend to thin their woodlands over the next 10 years will treat 25% of the average 350 woodland acres/landowner, at a minimum cost of $50 per acre. Return to text

4. According to Miller (1986), western juniper is the most durable heartwood species in the Pacific Northwest, with an average service life in western Oregon exceeding 30 years. Other species included in the study were Pacific yew, redwood, various cedar species, and Oregon white oak. Return to text

5. Small manufacturers and artisans may also wish to contact Northwest Best Limited, Inc., a small catalog company based in Medford, OR. (541/734-5466). The company recently accepted several western juniper products for its 1998-99 catalog series. Return to text