Wood is Good: Freres at the International Mass Timber Conference 2024

Last week marked another amazing week of networking and eye-opening experiences in the mass timber world at the 8th annual International Mass Timber Conference (MTC). We were blown away by the number of attendees, both returning and new. This was the second year we hosted the MTC Lounge located in the center of the conference floor. The ability to showcase our Mass Ply Panels (MPP) in this beautiful, two story display is unmatched – and it stopped attendees in their tracks.

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Conference week began on Tuesday for most attendees; specifically the tour goers, and we had the absolute honor to include our facilities as part of the Western Oregon Tour this year. The tour included a guided drive through the Santiam Canyon, reflecting on the mass loss and some revitalization of the forests impacted by the Beachie Creek wildfires.

The first stop was the Detroit Ranger Station where the group of 120 people hiked among the standing trees and listened to a panel of speakers representing diverse perspectives in the Santiam Canyon. Michelle King, the Detroit District Ranger, talked about the Forest Service progress in forest rehabilitation. Kyle Sullivan-Astor, Lead for the Federal Forest Restoration program for the Oregon Derpartment of Forestry, talked about the Good Neighbor Authority and Oregon’s part in assisting Federal forest management. Professor Stephen Fitzgerald, from Oregon State University, talked about fire impacted ecosystems. Finally, Tyler Freres provided industry practices regarding forest fire mitigation and post fire recovery.  

Second stop was our Mass Ply facility in Lyons, Oregon to show the manufacturing side of mass timber wood products. It was a joy to see the excited faces of the groups weaving through the plant. We were very proud to show off our new SCM CNC machine. The Freres portion of the tour ended with lunch from a local company provided by USNR. The last stop of the tour was the Salem Public Works building that was constructed by Howard S. Wright Construction, with T. Gerding Structural as primary mass timber erectors. Salem Public Works is a Mass Timber Building utilizing glu-lams from DR Johnson for beams and columns and Mass Ply panels for roof and deck elements. The building was designed by Hacker Architects and engineered by KPFF. 

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The next two days feel like a blur. More than 2,700 conference goers made their presence known Wednesday and Thursday with endless mass timber conversations, panels, events and speakers.

We brought a couple new products to the show this year: two very different visual-graded MPP examples. One showcased the edge grain and the other had clear-faced MPP boards carefully placed in a desired pattern. To our surprise, the interest in these panels really took off. One person even said, “I’ve been waiting for these to show up!”

Another project that was showcased on the floor was TallWood Design Institute’s Waste Utilization Panels. Students worked alongside their instructor to build this display in less than a month! They used only our remnant material, which would otherwise be chipped into fuel, and turned it into a very unique and  impressive display of MPP. 

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But wait! The week wasn’t over yet. On Friday, three Freres employees were able to attend the Port of Portland tour, including the new terminal at PDX and envisioning the new T2 Mass Timber Hub project. There was a 10-person panel discussion at PDX, including Tyler Freres, where they could each share inspiring words on the role they shared in the PDX project. It was an indescribable experience to walk under a sky of Douglas Fir. It’s hard to believe you’re in an active construction zone, and not a warm, natural forest. That was ZGF’s goal, and they nailed it. We share the immense anticipation of its opening in August of 2024.

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This year has so much in store for Freres and the mass timber industry as a whole. Many wonderful connections were made during the week and we cannot wait to grow both current and future relationships. We are all in this together; to build, to innovate, to nurture and to revolutionize what we are capable of accomplishing with the world’s greatest natural resource. Wood is good!


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