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Where’s Fred? He’s Everywhere

Where’s Fred? He’s Everywhere

One of the most frequently asked questions around our office is, “Where’s Fred?” We’re talking about Dr. Frederick T. Kurpiel, who is as well known on an international scale in the wood products industry as anybody. That’s saying something, but it’s true.

On page 12 of this issue we have an article on the Panel & Engineered Lumber International Conference & Expo, which will be held April 7-8 at the Omni Hotel at CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. This will be the fifth PELICE since its inception in 2008. Panel World magazine along with Fred’s business, Georgia Research Institute, are the primary hosts of the event.

I would like to take credit for the idea of PELICE, but that honor goes to Fred. I believe it was during the IWF event in Atlanta in 2005 when Fred first approached me about collaborating on such an event. He believed, and I agreed, that the panel industry was lacking a conference that focused on mill operations. Existing conferences had become a little too academic, a little too abstract.

I had known Fred for some time, though I can’t quite recall when I met him. During his nearly 40-year career in the forest products industry, he has held positions with Masonite, American Plywood Assn., Coastal Lumber, Siempelkamp and Imeas, meanwhile receiving a Ph.D. from the Dept. of Forestry/Forest Products at the University of Idaho. He formed Georgia Research Institute as his consulting  and collaboration business.

Starting PELICE in 2008 was extremely difficult, given the economy, and 2010 and 2012 were pretty tough as well, before we found some breathing room in 2014. As for 2016, we shall see. But through them all, we’ve managed to fill the Omni Hotel ballroom each time with 75 exhibitors and attract 50 speakers while drawing several hundred international attendees.

A lot of credit goes to a lot of people for pulling PELICE together, but Fred is at the top of the list.

You may also be aware that Fred collaborates with us on the Timber Processing & Energy Expo, which will be held again next September 28-30 at the Portland Exposition Center in Portland, Ore. This will be our third TP&EE and it’s grown every year, with approximately 170 machinery exhibitors and several thousand in attendance.

Fred stays pretty busy for us as he bounces between PELICE and TP&EE. But he has a lot of teaching and consulting projects going on, too, which frequently take him overseas. That’s why when the email lines between us suddenly grow silent, the question persists: “Where’s Fred? Thailand? Malaysia? Italy?”

And then we’ll receive a photo from Fred like the one that appears here. “Oh look, Fred’s in China.” We discover that Fred has been in China doing consulting research on the panel industry, but fortunately for us has found some time to pull together a story on the Hubei BaoYuan OSB plant, which graces the cover of this issue.

So here’s to Fred, wherever he is.

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