Materials like plywood and gypsum haven’t changed much in decades, but engineered wood is continuously evolving. While LP is more easily able to connect with university students studying design, finding tomorrow’s innovators can be challenging because there’s a limited number of college graduates with experience in wood-based composite research.
“In a good economy like we currently have, it’s hard to find highly skilled people in any field, not just the engineered wood industry,” says Kevin Line, LP’s Innovation Manager for New Product Development. “Fortunately, LP is a member and sponsor of the Wood-Based Composites Center, an NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center. There are two universities – Oregon State and Virginia Tech – that are taking the lead in basic research. North Carolina State, Michigan State and Auburn are also making contributions there. In the realm of applied research – where we take the basic research and make products with it – there are two schools in the forefront: The University of Maine and Michigan Tech in Houghton. We have contracts with both schools to do prototyping and testing.”
A recent example of this is the decay testing done by Michigan Tech on the new LP Elements™ Performance Fencing. LP understood that the market was looking for a fencing material with the look of traditional wood but with the low maintenance and consistent quality that an engineered wood product provides. Line was instrumental in developing the only high performing engineered wood fencing product on the market—marking the latest breakthrough in the fencing industry since the mid-1980s. Through the testing partnership, the LP Elements fencing product has been put through a battery of extreme weather tests from Hawaii to the Florida Keys to see how it stands up against damaging hail and high impact, punishing UV rays and heat, harsh winter conditions, high-velocity hurricane wind zones, extreme rain and humidity and corrosive salt spray.
Similar to LP Elements rigorous testing, LP Legacy® sub-flooring is Tested Extreme® against the elements from Canada to Mexico to show how the strength and stiffness of LP Legacy stands up even in the toughest conditions—including sharks.
“The Consortium works well because there are biannual visits to both the university campuses and the industry-partner sites,” adds Line. “Students came to our headquarters in Nashville last fall and we got to know each other better. It makes it easy to follow up when there’s a job opening.”
Line has a keen eye for talent because he has worked in both aerospace and the building solutions field. “Aerospace projects move very slowly, sometimes stretching 10 years or more,” he says. “LP operates at a much faster pace. My first project here was to source, buy, install and commission a new manufacturing line in six months.”
As LP grows, it becomes increasingly important to find versatile employees like Line who don’t mind multi-tasking to work at LP. “This is a fast-paced environment that requires both people skills and research abilities,” he says. “Every week, I interact with Nashville colleagues, customers and many people at the mills. Consortium graduates who come here get to see research turned into successful new products.”
Overall, improvements in building envelopes have helped homeowners benefit from greater protection against moisture. Builders are able to create more energy-efficient homes overall due to these developments. However, when the exterior envelope doesn’t allow a structure to breathe, any moisture that gets trapped inside simply rots—causing more problems than intended. What is the solution to needing a tight building envelope that allows for proper airflow? Symbiotic materials, such as the LP Structural Solutions portfolio of products, provide an answer.Continue Reading
We’re joining Oscar Trejo, LP Technical Sales Manager, for a typical day on the job sharing his knowledge about one of the most durable siding solutions available—LP® SmartSide® Trim & Siding. Trejo dedicates his time to providing construction training for building professionals, assisting on the jobsite, and leading his team at LP.
As a leader in building solutions, LP Structural Solutions is consistently moving in the direction of greater resiliency. Each innovative building solution is viewed through that lens, as well as how it can help achieve LP’s overall goal of Building a Better World™. But why this direction? What led LP to focus on resilience in construction? Craig Miles, Director of OSB Sales & Marketing, explores how past trends inform LP’s work on modern building techniques today.
Coming off an unprecedented year, the busiest season for selling siding is almost underway! COVID-19 is still a significant consideration as you attempt to move forward with your siding business while taking learnings and challenges from the pandemic into consideration. We talked with Erik Perkins of Perkins Builder Brothers to get insight straight from the jobsite about COVID-19’s impact, tips for prepping for a new season, and more. Read on to see how LP can support you with one of the most durable siding options out there as your business ramps up!