Innovative industry combines maturity with entrepreneurial spirit
Ontario Construction Report staff writer
The Ontario Wood Truss Fabricators Association (OWFTA) is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a combination of maturity and entrepreneurial creativity and initiative.
Historically, the industry is new – manufactured wood trusses only came into use in the 1960s, and the association started in 1982 – but OWTFA executive director Mike Phillips says it has matured to become the norm, especially in the single family residential marketplace.
“There has been an evolution in what we do with changes in fine tuning, new lumbers and different kinds of plates and the computer based ability to design is more robust so the imagination is the only limit,” he said. “Design specifications now allow for a better understanding of optimum design and best use of materials without over-designing. We watch what is happening in Europe and British Columbia and the creative uses of wood and hope for that same kind of evolution here.”
Phillips is excited by the potential for multiple material use where designers are open to the concept. “We see mid-rise five and six storey wooden structure where the basement or first floor is concrete,” he said. “We had one member work as part of a team building a concrete dome in which trusses were used to create the smooth form for the dome. That kind of thinking is exciting and extends the potential uses of both materials.”
Phillips says says the industry believes it can offer value beyond conventional residential single family homes. “We strongly support the development of mid-rise construction because it will certainly be good for the industry and always hope to broaden our scope more into the commercial market,” he says. “Many members sell other engineered wood products such as panels to increase their market share.”
The industry is entrepreneurial and innovative, with many small-to-medium-sized independent companies, Phillips said. “All reputable companies have quality control programs in place.” OWFTA members can adapt to local conditions and respond to market needs with incredible speed. The industry could still benefit from some uniform standards, he says.
Another issue is the push for things like solar panels as income-generating options for building owners. “The solar industry tends to over-simplify things,” he said. “Roofs are designed for uniform loads but these panels create point loads and without engineer approval there is the potential for real problems.”
The association will celebrate its anniversary at its annual general meeting in 2013. See www.owtfa.com.
Taiga Building Products
Taiga Building Products has been a OWFTA member since 1999 and is the exclusive dealer for LP Engineered Wood Products in Canada.
Alex Wimbush, Taiga’s regional sales manager of engineered wood products, says Taiga & LP offer OWTFA members a full line of engineered wood products to work in conjunction with truss systems. “Engineered wood is often required to carry long spanning trusses or girders. LP products can be utilized as headers, studs or columns to transfer roof loads down to the foundation. To aid in design, LP’s wood-e design software has recently been upgraded and gives users the ability to size columns, studs, beams or joist using one program.”
Taiga provides comprehensive technical and engineering support to facilitate customers’ design requirements.
Wimbush says his company and LP are both active members of the OWTFA. LP’s national sales manager Rick Brouckxon, contributes as a OWFTA director. “The association provides a great opportunity for networking and works hard in promoting the wood truss industry,” Wimbush said. “The OWTFA ensures members are educated about new developments in design methodology such as those required for solar panels or code changes. We are very proud of what the association has become and congratulate them on 30 years.”