Western Juniper Industry Voluntary Self-Assessment

by Bill Breedlove, Western Juniper Industry Facilitator
from the Western Juniper Newsletter, Vol. 2, No. 2, Winter 1998.

The Western Juniper Project Industry Steering Committee recently approved a voluntary self-assessment program for juniper manufacturers. The Steering Committee concluded that if the industry was ever going to mature and sustain itself, a revenue stream had to be developed to support activities currently subsidized by Oregon lottery dollars.

Examples of activities assisted with lottery dollars include creation and building of marketing and manufacturing networks by the Juniper Industry Facilitator (Bill Breedlove), participation in trade shows, development of grading rules and a grade stamp program, communication (such as the newsletter and Juniper Forums), and projects which address technical and scientific issues involved with a new species (such as recovery, fiber markets for non-sawlogs, drying, finishing, and improved harvest equipment).

According to Mike Connolly, Connolly Wood Products (Bend): "We wanted to demonstrate to the Eastern Oregon economic development boards who have contributed to the western juniper project, and the Governor, that private companies are making a long-term financial commitment to development of a new industry based on this species."

Mike added: "But getting everyone on board isn't going to happen overnight, so we knew we better get started."

The Juniper Voluntary Self-Assessment Program consists of contributing 5% of 1) gross juniper sales at the primary processing level, or 2) gross juniper raw material purchases at the secondary processing level, to a special Juniper Voluntary Self-Assessment Account. The account will be managed by Klamath County Economic Development Association, a non-profit group which has administered previous juniper grant funds.

First year assessments will be used to defray a portion of the costs of maintaining the Industry Facilitator position, now filled by Bill Breedlove. The eventual goal is to generate $150,000 annually to maintain a limited association structure and support the activities already described. The assessment is expected to decrease as more juniper manufacturers sign-up.

Reactions to the announcement of the voluntary self-assessment program have been unanimously positive (which surprised most members of the Industry Steering Committee).

Bart Anderson, Bear Creek Woodworks (Baker City), a manufacturer of juniper furniture, cabinets, doors, and paneling, says: "My contributions to Steering Committee-sponsored activities and the Industry Facilitator will save me the equivalent of a full-time sales person."

Bart adds: "When you introduce a new species into the market place, you need alot of backing and general promotion, so customers know it's a viable alternative."

According to Roy Peterson, who owns a portable sawmill near Monument: "I benefit from the fact that due to Steering Committee activities, alot of people have heard about the good things you can do with juniper, which helps me build a part-time business harvesting and sawing juniper."

Roy continues: "The development of a grading system and grade stamps gives my product more credibility. It also helps that I can always call on someone for help about issues such as drying and finishing."

For Howard McGee, owner of 4-Mac Industries (Dairy), the only medium-size sawmill left in Eastern Oregon: "The benefit I see is that the marketing and manufacturing networks developed by the Industry Facilitator will grow to the point I can count on a steadier stream of orders, which will help lower my costs and boost efficiency."

Bill Breedlove, the person in charge of explaining the self-assessment program to manufacturers and signing people up says: "People will have concerns and questions, so please, tell them to call me....we need to work together to grow this industry, otherwise it flat won't happen."

For More Information: Bill Breedlove, Western Juniper Industry Facilitator (541/850-4317 or Cell Phone 541/891-4506).