How to Make a Classic Mint Julep:

Thursday, May 2nd, 2019
mint julep Kentucky Bourbon

In celebration of the Kentucky Derby, we’d like to teach you how to make the perfect Mint Julep, which is the traditional drink of the Kentucky Derby.


So, what is the key ingredient to a classic mint julep? Kentucky bourbon!  Did you know that in order for bourbon to be called bourbon (and not whiskey), it must be aged in new, charred, white oak barrels? And, those white oak barrels can only be used ONCE to age bourbon. The used barrels are often sold to whiskey and tequila companies for re-use.


Every bourbon barrel is made from white oak staves (high-quality, large white oak logs). These staves have to be perfect – no knots or other imperfections — and are typically only made from the bottom third of the tree trunk. 


Since there is such a high demand for white oak staves, the American Forest Foundation, the University of Kentucky, and the DendriFund developed the White Oak Initiative, with the goal of ensuring that white oak continues to thrive. To read more about the initiative, click here.


Over 80,000 mint juleps are served over the course of the Kentucky Derby, so here’s how to make your own:




4-5 sprigs of mint leaves


2 sugar cubes


2 ½ ounces of Kentucky bourbon (aged in White Oak barrels)



  1. Place the mint and sugar cubes in a glass (traditionally a julep cup, collins glass, or double old-fashioned glass).
  2. Muddle the sugar and mint leaves until the sugar is dissolved and you can smell the oil from the mint leaves. Be careful to gently muddle.  Your goal is to open up the veins of the mint leaves – not tear them to shreds.  
  3. Add your Kentucky bourbon (aged in White Oak barrels)!
  4. Fill the rest of the glass with crushed ice and stir well until the glass gets nice and frosty.
  5. Garnish with a mint sprig. 
  6. Enjoy!

Policy Update U.S. – China Trade Negotiations

Friday, February 22nd, 2019

The Hardwood Federation has released an update about the current state of tariff trade negotiations between the U.S. and China. This is an ongoing process, so updates will continue.


  • The U.S. and China wrapped up a week of negotiations in China last Friday. 
  • Both sides reported that they made “progress,” including more substantive discussions and reported Chinese concessions on key structural issues that are a priority for the United States. Discussions continue this week in Washington, D.C. 
  • President Trump has indicated a willingness to suspend increases in tariff levels if discussions continue to be positive and a deal is close.  However, we do not anticipate a decision will be made until very close to the March 1 deadline.


On Friday, U.S. and Chinese negotiators wrapped up five days of bilateral trade negotiations in Beijing.  The White House described these discussions as “detailed and intensive” and the Chinese government also indicated progress. 
Coming into these talks, the U.S. delegation was expected to continue pushing for changes that roughly fall into three “buckets” – increased purchases of U.S. commodities, Chinese policy changes to address structural concerns raised by the United States (such as intellectual property theft, cyber-hacking and industrial policy), and specific mechanisms to hold China accountable for meeting specific commitments.  Of those areas, the first area (increased purchases of commodities) was both the easiest issue to resolve and the area in which the Chinese have been most willing to offer concessions.  Verification and monitoring are considered the most difficult.
Following discussions, the White House issued a statement noting that the U.S. delegation focused first on structural issues, including a series of issues where discussions continued from earlier rounds: forced technology transfer, intellectual property rights, cyber theft, agriculture, services, non-tariff barriers, and currency. The statement also makes references to increased purchases of U.S. goods and services; Chinese negotiators had previously offered agricultural products in this bucket but also reportedly offered semiconductors as another potential area. Interestingly, the U.S. statement does not make any explicit reference to verification and monitoring mechanisms.  U.S. officials have purportedly suggested various mechanisms to enforce any commitment made, including “snap-back” tariffs, rotating lists of retaliatory tariffs, trade remedy actions, or even the re-imposition of WTO safeguards against import surges.
The White House statement also hints more explicitly than in the past about the form of any potential deal, noting that any commitments would be included as a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two countries, a form that is more substantial than just a joint statement.  It does not, however, provide any clear indication of a postponement or extension of the negotiating period, stating only that the two sides were working hard to strike a deal in advance of the March 1 deadline set by the two leaders. The two sides will meet again next week in Washington to continue talks – both at the lead negotiator level as well as the working-level.

The Story of a Man, a Kitchen Table, and a Dream

Friday, February 1st, 2019

Member Spotlight | Tropical Forest Products

The kitchen table serves as more than just a place for family meals. It is the hub of the home — a place where important family conversations happen, where visiting friends gravitate to socialize, where projects, budgeting, and homework take place. And for Jordan Dery, the founder of Tropical Forest Products, the kitchen table is where his idea to start a lumber company came to fruition.

The Kitchen Table

A native of Quebec, Canada, Jordan began his career in the hardwood lumber industry when he was just 20 years old. He graduated from the NHLA Inspector Training School in 2013, where he gained life-long friends and developed skills that would one day propel him to starting his own hardwood lumber business. 

The journey to the creation of his business began in 2016 when Jordan took a three-month holiday to explore Asia. While visiting Indonesia, he toured a local sawmill and was inspired. Jordan recalls his moment of clarity, “I’d always loved the hardwood industry and the people in it. This is my passion! I should start my own lumber company.”

He immediately called his twin brother, Justin Dery, who was already in the hardwood lumber industry. As Jordan excitedly told Justin he was going to start his own lumber company, Justin was wary, exclaiming, “you’re crazy!”  Justin knew that starting a lumber company from scratch would be a massive undertaking and wanted to protect Jordan from making a costly mistake, but his skepticism didn’t last long. 

Jordan returned home just before Christmas, and by New Year’s Day 2017, his brand-new business was taking shape. Soon, his brother joined the company as its vice president and their longtime friend, Jassi Jaskaran, signed-on to handle sales & purchasing. The newly-created business was named “Tropical Forest Products,” and the center of operations was the kitchen table at their family home. 

The first order of business was to join NHLA, which was instrumental in building strong relationships within the hardwood lumber industry. When Tropical Forest Products began, they didn’t have any credit, so they turned to their friends in the hardwood industry for help. These friends trusted his vision and allowed him to use their lumber yards and warehouses to build loads. The first loads sold by Tropical Forest Products weren’t backed by contracts. Instead, the deals consisted of a handshake and Jordan’s word.

By June of 2017, Tropical Forest Products moved into its first warehouse, which was previously used to store old car-parts. “The warehouse was completely disgusting,” said Jordan, “the entire building had to be gutted and completely remodeled before it could be used to house lumber. The first load at the new warehouse looked tiny, sitting all alone in the 30,000 square foot goliath. It just looked like a ghost town.”

2017 was challenging, and Tropical Forest Products had many obstacles to overcome, including some of their customers declaring bankruptcy. Jordan laments, “It was devastating, but we all came together with the understanding that it would take a lot of hard work to make up for the money we’d lost. We had to put in long hours, hitting the phones all day every day, trying to get new customers. It was tough, but we managed to double our goals in our first year.”  It didn’t take long for their ghost town of a warehouse to become filled with lumber. In fact, Tropical Forest Products has grown so much that they will be moving into a bigger warehouse in November of 2019.

The Tropical Forest Products Warehouse

Jordan’s approach to managing the business revolves around two things:  happy employees and satisfied customers. Jordan’s mantra is, “work at a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”  He extolls the importance of employees spending time with their families, saying, “I let my team know their health and family should always come first. I really believe that. I want my employees to know their company supports them, that we trust them.”

The growth continues at Tropical Forest Products, as they are proud to announce their recent merger with the Lumber Decking Company out of Miami. Jordan points out, “This merger provides a great opportunity for growth. The CEO of the Lumber Decking Company, Kris Kanagenthran, has been one of my greatest mentors since I began in the hardwood lumber industry. I know we need strong leadership to take us to the next level. I trust his leadership and share his vision.”

From its humble beginning of three men working at a kitchen table, Tropical Forest Products has matured into a business that employees a full staff with clients across the world. Instead of borrowing lumber yards and warehouses from friends, they now have their own. Jordan is proud to be a member of NHLA, acknowledging, “None of our success would have been possible if it weren’t for relationships we built through NHLA, our customers, and our suppliers. The friendships we built became the support we needed to get our feet off the ground. They wanted us to succeed. They set us up to triumph.”

BREAKING NEWS: Rules for Shipments of Ash Lumber to the EU Have Changed

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

ATTENTION Exporters of Ash Lumber to the European Union, NHLA has received an important notice from USDA-APHIS and the European Union.


NHLA was officially notified today (December 18, 2018), that the rules for shipping Ash lumber originating from the United States has changed.


Effective Today…the only approved option for exporting Ash lumber to the EU is the NHLA KD Certificate Program as proof of treatment to obtain a Phyto-Sanitary Certificate.


As announced by USDA-APHIS, “Shipments of Ash lumber certified under the 2.5 cm beneath the bark lumber will be allowed a grace period for the wood already in route.  The last date such a shipment can arrive and gain entry into the EU is February 10, 2019, which should cover any shipments in route, even with delays. The 2.5 cm option for new shipments cannot be used.


All Ash originating from the United States and traveling to the European Union must be in the “systems approach”. The “systems approach” is defined below.


Shipments must have a PHYTO with the accompanying NHLA KD Certificate with clip ID numbers. The Shipments must also meet all of the following requirements:


  • 10% or less in MC
  • Dry bulb temperature must reach 160 degrees F for 20 hours minimum.
  • Lumber must be debarked, small residual pieces less than the size of a credit card are acceptable.
  • Lumber drying time of 14 days, this includes air drying time.
  • Lumber must be stenciled with KD – HT on both ends of the packs. (bottom right corner.)
  • Treatment durations, dry and wet bulb temperatures, and final moisture contents will be recorded for each specific lot, and maintained for a minimum of 3 years.


For Canadian Exporters of Ash:


The Canadian systems approach that was created more than a year ago is still in effect for Canada. The use of the NHLA Kiln Dried Certification Program is only available to the U.S. based companies, but any lumber transferred between the countries to be further exported to the EU for traceability can also utilize either system to verify treatment with some additional measures.


Questions about exporting Ash to the EU or questions about enrollment in the NHLA KD Certification Program?  Contact Dana Spessert, NHLA Chief Inspector at [email protected] or call 901-399-7551.

NHLA Elects New Leadership at the 2018 NHLA Annual Convention

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

Media Contact:

Renee Hornsby, Director of Communications


[email protected]




National Hardwood Lumber Association Elects New President


MEMPHIS, TENN. – Darwin Murray of McClain Forest Products in West Plains, Missouri became the new president of the National Hardwood Lumber Association at the NHLA Annual Convention & Exhibit Showcase on October 4, 2018 in Toronto, Canada.


Over the last two years, Murray served on the Executive Committee as vice president. He has been a member of the Executive Committee since 2014 and the Board of Managers since 2011. Murray accepted the gavel from 2016-2018 President Brent Stief, of Huron Forest Products, Inc.

Pictured left to right: NHLA Vice President Jeff Wirkkala poses with NHLA President Darwin Murray and former NHLA President Brent Stief.


In his acceptance speech, Murray said, “I want you to know that I am honored to serve as your President. I recognize this as a profound responsibility, an opportunity to give back to an industry and association that has helped define me personally and professionally for 36 years.  I do not see becoming your President as a personal achievement or a privilege.  Whether you are an active, partner, associate, sustaining, inspector, or research member, you have my commitment to consider your needs first in any decisions made by me.”


Also at the business meeting, the NHLA membership elected a new vice president and seven new board members. Jeff Wirkkala of Hardwood Industries, Inc. in Sherwood, Oregon will serve as NHLA vice president.

NHLA President Darwin Murray with NHLA Vice President Jeff Wirkkala.


Wirkkala’s vice president nomination was seconded by NHLA past president, Jim Howard. “Jeff has the rare combination of determination, perseverance, smarts and humility and exemplifies servant leadership.” Wirkkala has served on the board since 2014.

The seven new board members-at-large will each serve a three-year term beginning immediately. The new board members include George Bach of East Ohio Hardwood Lumber Co., John Griffin of Frank Paxton Lumber Co., Joey Josey of Josey Lumber Company, Darrell Keeling of Northwest Hardwoods, Dennis Mann of Baillie Lumber Co., Cameron McRae of McRae Lumber Co. Ltd. and George Swaner of Swaner Hardwood Co. Inc.

Newly elected NHLA Board Members (left to right) Darrell Keeling, George Swaner, George Bach, Cameron McRae, and Dennis Mann.


Additionally, four board members were re-elected to serve another three-year term including; Scott Cummings of Cummings Lumber Co., Mario Lussier of Simon Lussier Ltee, Garner Robinson of Robinson Lumber Co., and Ray Wheeland of Wheeland Lumber Company.


NHLA also acknowledged and thanked five outstanding volunteers for their service to the Board of Managers. Retiring from the board are: Mark Cifranick of Baillie Lumber, Charley Fiala of GMC Hardwoods, Inc., Orn Gudmundsson Jr. of Northland Corporation, Steve Jones of Ron Jones Hardwood Sales and Nordeck Thompson of Thompson Appalachian Hardwoods.


The NHLA board of managers determines and holds the Association to its mission and goals; establishes standing policies to guide the board and staff; ensures financial solvency and integrity and helps represent the Association externally.


(Pictures available on request)


The world’s largest and oldest hardwood industry association, NHLA represents companies and individuals that produce, use and sell North American hardwood lumber, or provide equipment, supplies or services to the hardwood industry. It was founded in 1898 to establish a uniform system of grading rules for the measurement and inspection of hardwood lumber. Since 1980, its headquarters have been in Memphis, Tenn. To learn more about NHLA, please visit