Steve Anthony of Anthony Timberlands on the Forestry Industry (Exec Q&A)

Steve Anthony has served as president of Anthony Timberlands since 2004.

Background: Anthony, 51, grew up in Fordyce (Dallas County). He began working at family-owned Anthony Timberlands Inc. of Bearden in 1986, first as vice president of legal affairs, then as vice president of pine operations. He was named president in 2004. He serves on the board at Bank of Bearden and is past president of the Arkansas Forestry Association. He is also past chairman of the Southern Forest Products Association and the Arkansas Forestry Commission.

Education: Anthony graduated in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in commerce from Washington & Lee University of Lexington, Va., and in 1986 with a law degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.

Q: What has your company done to help it ride out the continued economic weakness?

A: We certainly instituted a number of belt-tightening measures in order to curtail losses. In addition, we significantly reduced pine lumber production in response to the complete collapse of the housing market. We narrowed our focus to higher-value product niches where we could.

Are there any “green” initiatives before Congress that could help forest product industries in Arkansas?

I’ve long since stopped looking to Washington for anything other than obstacles. Many federal building projects dictate use of LEED architectural standards, which unfairly penalize wood products in favor of products such as steel and concrete. Life cycle analysis reveals forest products to be among the most environmentally friendly options available, yet the LEED standards stigmatize their use.

You said in 2011 that the lumber market was about as bad as had it been in five years. Has 2012 been any better?

The pine lumber market has displayed something of a yo-yo effect over the last three to four years. While there has been a marked, permanent reduction in manufacturing capacity, there is also significant capacity that can be returned to production in the face of better markets. At the slightest indication of potential profitability, this capacity can be triggered, effectively overwhelming market demand. Thus, 2010 was a relatively decent year. In anticipation of good markets in 2011, many mills added production. With little or no demand component, the additional volume crashed prices for 2011. Conversely, in the face of a very poor 2011, supplies have eased, making for a tolerable 2012.

What kind of a lumber market do you foresee for Arkansas in 2013?

I’m hoping the yo-yo trend doesn’t repeat itself in 2013, but it is hard to be optimistic.

Are you noticing an upswing in construction?

I can’t say that we’re seeing a significant, sustained increase in market demand. When you see a headline trumpeting a 20 percent increase in housing starts, you’re going from 500,000 to 600,000, an increase of 20 percent, but still half of pre-crash historical averages. Despite all of this, we’re going ahead with plans to resume multishift operations at our flagship pine mill in Bearden. This is not so much in anticipation of good markets in 2013 as it is an effort to achieve economies of scale at a large, modern mill with access to plentiful, affordable raw material.