Wood & Panel

Roderick Wiles

 Wednesday, January 12, 2022

On the outset of Delhiwood – the fair held to promote the North Indian woodworking industry, Roderick Wiles, AHEC (American Hardwood Export Council) Director for Africa, Middle East, India and Oceania, talked to us regarding the Indian market and AHEC’s strategy for expansion. Here we replicate:

Since few years Indian sub-continent has become a major place of interest for AHEC, why? What are the major changes in attitude in the country you have witnessed?

Roderick Wiles: In particular, we have noticed a change in attitude towards imported goods, fashions and ideas, including hardwood species. There is now a clear interest in learning about new and alternative products, where once there had been some resistance to introduced ideas. Indian architects and interior designers, in particular, are keen to learn about American hardwood species, products and end use applications and AHEC is working hard to give them the information they need.

How do you think AHEC’s guidance can prove to be beneficial for an industry which works in an orthodox and rudimentary environment/process?

Roderick Wiles: Much of India’s woodworking industry is cottage-based and there are few large and well-organized joinery and furniture factories. However, the organized sector is developing in line with India’s construction boom and the rising need for high quality interior joinery and furniture. AHEC feels that the introduction of quality-consistent, kiln-dried hardwoods from the United States will be highly beneficial to this developing industry. The higher quality raw material used, the higher quality product manufactured and the American hardwood industry can offer a material that is ready to be processed in India as soon as it is landed, with minimum wastage and minimum labor. AHEC also feels that if Indian furniture, flooring and joinery manufacturers are to be successful in exporting their products to overseas markets, then they will need to use hardwood species that are recognized and demanded in those markets. American hardwoods are widely known across the globe and they come with strong environmental credentials.

How important is Delhiwood for you, or, how important do you think Delhiwood is for the Indian woodworking industry?

Roderick Wiles: Delhiwood is a very important show for both AHEC and India’s woodworking sector, especially in the northern part of the country. It is an ideal opportunity for American hardwood exporters to showcase their products and to establish new relationships with prospective buyers, while reaffirming existing ones. It is also an important venue for AHEC itself to distribute its free technical publications on species and grading and to demonstrate hardwood lumber grading, which is key to every successful transaction in American hardwoods. This year, AHEC will also be the main sponsor of the Delhiwood seminar series and AHEC staff and consultants will be covering a number of important topics, including the environmental credentials of U.S. hardwoods, the hardwood resource and species and the practical selection, specification and grading of hardwood lumber for end use.

Which are the other countries/regions that AHEC would like to expand its wings now?

Roderick Wiles: For many years (22 in the case of the European office) AHEC has maintained offices in London (covering Europe), Osaka, Mexico City and Hong Kong (covering China & SE Asia). In recent years and in addition to India, AHEC has expanded its promotional programs to cover South America and Australia/New Zealand. There are few regions where AHEC is not present and extensive programs are now run in China, SE Asia, Europe, Latin America, Middle East/North Africa, India and Oceania. It is likely, in the coming years, that we shall witness increased demand for hardwoods in parts of Russia and Central Asia and also in the wider Middle East region and sub-Saharan Africa.

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