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Steel groups join to halt wood’s gains

Keywords: Tags  steel framing, coalition, construction, competitive materials, Lawrence Kavanagh, Robert Wills, Steel Stud Manufacturers Association, Steel Framing Industry Association Certified Steel Stud Association

NEW YORK — Four trade associations representing the steel stud sector are teaming up to counter recent inroads by the wood and masonry industries in the mid-rise construction market.

Meeting last week to forge a plan to collaborate on research, code advocacy and promotion of the cold-formed steel framing industry were representatives from the Steel Stud Manufacturers Association, Chicago; the Steel Framing Industry Association, Washington; the Certified Steel Stud Association, New York; and the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI), a business unit of the Washington-based American Iron and Steel Institute.

"The cold-formed steel framing market is an important one for our steel company investors, and we are committed to working with like-minded construction partners to increase demand," SMDI vice president of construction Robert Wills said.

The four groups are planning a follow-up meeting Sept. 17 to further discuss their mission and strategies.

"Cold-formed steel is an important market. ... We have to defend that market. And we defend that market with superior steel framing designs, different emphases on seismic and fire in the code programs and by digging into everything you hear about wood from an environmental point of view," SMDI president Lawrence Kavanagh told AMM.

"The wood guys have been good about marketing the concept of renewability," he acknowledged. "That’s usually, hands-down a good thing. But you have to dig a little deeper to determine what this renewability means. You chop down 40-foot trees and replace them with seedlings. What does that do to the land, the species and the habitat?"

Kavanagh also points to the body blow dealt to the residential construction market as a result of the recent deep economic downturn. "We all remember the beginning of the recession. ... The housing industry collapsed. So what was the wood industry going to do with all that lumber that they are not using to build houses?" he asked.

"Their strategy is to move that into commercial construction," he said. "They are trying to make inroads in six-, seven- and eight-story buildings."

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