Two separate movements — both started in 1945 — culminated in the 1947 formation of the Forest Products Society.
The first took place during a meeting of the Michigan Planning Commission's Forest Products Research Committee held in Detroit in July 1945. At that meeting, the Chair of the Forest Products Research Committee, Dr. Grover C. Dillman, President of the Michigan College of Mining and Technology (now Michigan Tech), was charged with contacting the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin, to suggest a national meeting of those interested in forest products research. George M. Hunt, then director of the Forest Products Laboratory, agreed to convene a national conference of representatives from states, universities and the U.S. Forest Service in Madison in March 1946.
Meanwhile, on the West Coast in November 1945, Art Mottet, a research engineer at LongBell Lumber Company, with the help of Al Herman, director of the Western Pine Association, and Bror Grondal of the University of Washington, gathered a group of individuals involved in the field of forest products for a meeting in Seattle to discuss the formation of a regional association. The outcome of that meeting was the formation of the Associated Forest Products Technologists.
In preparation for the national conference in Madison, George Hunt asked Bror Grondal to form a preconference committee to develop a proposal for a national forest products society. At the conference in March 1946, Grondal presented the findings of the preconference committee, noting that while there was growing interest in local organizations such as the Associated Forest Products Technologists in the Pacific Northwest, such local organizations could not function as effectively as a national organization could. He read the proposed purposes and objectives of such a national organization, which were to:
- facilitate exchange of information;
- abstract results of research;
- publish and distribute information;
- encourage cooperation among individuals and organizations;
- promote standard test methods; and
- sponsor meetings.
The proposed articles of incorporation also defined three types of membership: Voting, Associate and Supporting. Grondal, however, felt strongly that such an organization should not be formed without industry involvement. It was decided, therefore, that the organizational committee should be enlarged to include representatives from industry. The final organizational committee included 14 individuals from industry, government, association and educational institutions.
- William J. Baker, U.S. Forest Products Laboratory;
- Kenneth G. Chesley, Crossett Lumber Company;
- Harold S. Crosby, Northern Hemlock and Hardwood Association;
- George A. Garratt, Yale University School of Forestry;
- Fred W. Gottschalk, American Lumber & Treating Co.;
- Bror L. Grondal, University of Washington;
- James F. Hamilton, Perkins Glue Co.;
- R.N. Hammond, Weyerhaeuser Timber Co.;
- Charles B. Hemming, U.S. Plywood Corp.;
- George M. Hunt, U.S. Forest Products Laboratory;
- Gordon O. Marckworth, University of Washington;
- L.J. Markwardt, U.S. Forest Products Laboratory;
- W.H. Swanson, Kimberly-Clark Corp.; and
- Jac H. Tiegelaar, Haskelite Manufacturing Corp.
The organizational committee met on January 3, 1947, to formally approve a constitution and determine the methods of dues collection, election of officers and to select the Society's name: the Forest Products Research Society. Those at the meeting also elected members of the first Executive Board: Fred W. Gottschalk, president; George A. Garratt, vice-president; William J. Baker, secretary-treasurer; and Bror L. Grondal, "past president" -- in honor of his work on the organizational committee. Six Regions were formed and the following individuals were elected to serve on the Executive Board as Regional members: Northeast Region: James F. Hamilton; Southeast Region: Carl A. Rishell; North Central Region: Jac H. Tigelaar; South Central Region: Kenneth G. Chesley; Northwest Region: Edward G. Locke; Southwest Region: Robert A. Cockrell. The Society's business office was established in space donated by the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory with a business address of P.O. Box 2010 University Station, Madison 5, Wisconsin.
On August 8, 1947, the Society became a legal entity through incorporation as a non-profit organization in the State of Illinois. The Society's first Annual Meeting was held in October 1947 in Chicago. The Associated Forest Products Technologists merged with the Forest Products Research Society in May of 1947, thereby becoming the first Section, called the Pacific Northwest Section.
In 1967, the Society's office building at 2801 Marshall Court, Madison, was built and dedicated, where they operated until the recent move to Peachtree Corners, GA. In 1992, Society members ratified a change in the Society's name from the Forest Products Research Society to the Forest Products Society.