For more than three decades, the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) has been the global face of the U.S. timber industry, championing the performance, sustainability and aesthetic potential of American hardwoods worldwide. As the leading international hardwood trade association for North America, AHEC operates a non-profit programme representing thousands of businesses engaged in the production and export of timber – ranging from small family-run sawmills to major flooring manufacturers. Established to unite this wide-ranging spectrum of companies with a single global voice, AHEC has successfully built an internationally recognised brand, marketing more than 20 commercially available hardwood species and increasing demand around the world.
AHEC’s success is rooted in its recognition of the role played by design in shaping and sustaining the hardwood market. By working closely and creatively with designers and architects in more than 35 countries worldwide, sharing detailed practical knowledge of the properties of individual species, AHEC has furthered the appreciation and understanding of American hardwood among the international creative community. AHEC’s varied programme of imaginative, ambitious collaborations, high-profile architectural and design projects and involvement with major events and exhibitions has helped inspire new applications and approaches for hardwoods as sustainable design and construction materials.
AHEC’s activities are grounded in the sustainable nature and environmental credentials of hardwoods. This is embodied in the organisation’s pioneering work on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), which measures the complete, multi-faceted environmental impact of a given hardwood, including: primary energy demand (from renewable and non-renewable resources); global warming potential; acidification potential; eutrophication potential; and photochemical ozone-creation potential.
Thanks to AHEC’s support and resources, designers, architects, developers and specifiers have the information and incentive they need to select and source the perfect woods for their project, while hardwood producers and exporters secure new opportunities to bring their lumber to valuable markets around the world.
The export industry we represent is made up of companies, many still family owned, that are either sawmills, veneer producers, moulding and flooring producers, traders with concentration yards and kilns or combinations thereof. Together this industry exports in baulk (by container) to over 50 countries worldwide more than 20 commercially available hardwood species, although the more important volume species are the oaks, maples, ash, tulipwood, cherry, alder and walnut. Lumber is produced and exported according to the NHLA standard and details of the grades, with illustrations, can be found on this site. Veneer producers, however, tend to set their own grades according to customer requirement, grouped as panel, furniture and backing. AHEC is a voice for the hardwood industry in export markets and represents the committed American hardwood exporters and the major U.S. hardwood product trade associations. Here is a list of all AHEC members who supply hardwood lumber, veneer and other products.
Specialist hardwood importers and manufacturers buy American sawn lumber and veneer in volume direct from the USA. These companies can then administer regional distribution of the raw material, or produce components or finished products that can be specified by architects and designers or consumed by end users. Regional trade associations, federations and technical wood organisations can provide local market access to companies trading and manufacturing in American hardwoods. This site lists some of the most relevant European organisations.
Our programme educates, informs and inspires through a wide range of activities including technical information, networking assistance, creative collaborations, hosted and supported events and global public relations campaigns. Our mission is to develop new opportunities for American hardwoods and to provide specifiers and users around the world the incentive to make an informed choice about the timber they use. This website provides that information in the form of AHEC’s special projects, films, sustainability profiles, species guide, grading standards, case studies and examples of the many hardwood species available. It is also an important source of comment and market news. If you want to keep up to date with our latest projects, you can sign up to our newsletter below. We deliver technical workshops for architecture and design studios, as well as for the timber industry, if you are interested in organising one for your company, get in touch.
From Washington, DC and six overseas offices, strategically located near key hardwood markets, AHEC conducts a worldwide promotion programme with activities in more than 35 countries. All programmes are run though the joint efforts of the U.S. hardwood industry and the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), to broaden the impact on, and outreach into international markets giving members the sharp competitive edge needed to meet the growing worldwide demand for American hardwood products.