Sweet Sixteen

Article by Rich Donnell, Editor-in-Chief, Panel World May 2019

No, the headline doesn’t refer to the NCAA basketball tournament and the prestige of reaching the tournament’s Sweet Sixteen finalists. Rather it tells the number of Ligna shows in Hannover, Germany I will have attended, if indeed I make the upcoming one at the end of May as planned.

There are certain things in life that serve to remind us of our advancing years—birthdays obviously, marriage anniversaries, the news of a forthcoming grandchild, the age of an old truck still in the driveway. Another indicator for me is the Ligna show.

The number 16 doesn’t sound that many, except that Ligna is held every two years, and so it’s 16 x 2, and that equals 32 years, which is half of my age. In other words, I’ve been attending Ligna shows the vast majority of my adulthood.

1989 was the first one I attended. My post-show report on it spent a lot of words on Bison, the Springe, Germany manufacturer that was selling a good number of presses, including continuous, into North America then. The continuous press was overall a hot topic at Ligna. LP was cranking up several Siempelkamp versions in the U.S. Speaking of Siempelkamp, the 1989 Ligna was where it introduced the company logo it continues to adorn today. A Küsters continuous press was going in at John Godfrey’s new gypsum fiberboard plant in East Providence, Rhode Island.

Our issues of Panel World around that time were also heavy with articles on OSB. In fact 1989 was in the middle of the OSB boom in North America. We visited Huber’s new OSB mill in Commerce, Ga., and Peter Grant’s new OSB line with Dieffenbacher multiple-opening press in Englehart, Ontario, headquarters of Grant Forest Products.

We were also writing a lot about plywood in 1989, which was only beginning to feel the market pinch from OSB. Champion International renovated its plywood mill in Libby, Montana, giving the mill “new life” as our story said. Indeed the plant would run into the early 2000s under Stimson Lumber before giving out.

Information on new technologies for air emissions control began appearing with regularity, and so did advertisements from such companies as Geoenergy with its E-Tube wet ESP.

In the same issue as my post Ligna article, a barely noticeable news release reported that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wanted to list the northern spotted owl of the Northwest U.S. as a threatened species. Industry interests said if that happened it would mean the loss of billions of board feet of timber harvest from federal lands per year and that the industry would tragically and permanently shrink. It happened.

One thing that hasn’t shrunk is the Ligna show. In a way, it’s like going back in time.



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