Deep in the heart of Louisiana’s Cajun Country, a major manufacturer of building products is making a difference for the environment, and setting the standard for responsible management of forests and their renewable resource—wood.

Founded in 1923 and based in Alexandria, La., the Roy O. Martin Co. has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council for its responsible management of just under 600,000 acres of timberland spanning 30 parishes in some of the state’s most environmentally sensitive and culturally important areas. This includes the Atchafalaya River basin’s bottomland and swampland. These managed forests are generally of two types: hardwoods and pines. Though red oak and cypress are used for the majority of hardwood production, white oak, cottonwood, hackberry, pecan, sap gum, sycamore and ash are also utilized. In fact, ROM is a major supplier of Ash to the North American market.

The first and the best

Aside from being Louisiana’s first wood products manufacturer to be FSC certified, ROM’s Tuff Strand Oriented Strand Board was named as one of the “Top 10” environmentally responsible building products for 2002 by the respected GreenSpec Directory. It is also the first FSC-certified OSB in the United States. This is not a trivial honor. The FSC is an international non-profit organization dedicated to environmentally, socially and economically beneficial management of the world’s forestlands. Based in Washington, the FSC has certified more than 27 million hectacres of forestland in over forty countries worldwide ( The FSC works in conjunction with the SmartWood program of the Rainforest Alliance to provide FSC certification. Since 1989 (making it the oldest ongoing and extensive certification program in the world), the Richmond, Vt.,-based Rainforest Alliance is an international organization dedicated to protecting endangered ecosystems (

ROM had to earn this recognition. It did so by its approach to forest management. This includes setting aside land with “High Conservation” attributes, relatively long rotations for higher value wood products and an emphasis on training for both field and managerial personnel. As well, ROM joined forces and works in unison with environmental groups such as The Nature Conservancy and the Louisiana Natural Heritage Program.

Tuff Strand OSB and hardwood lumber are manufactured in a state-of-the-art mill facility at LeMoyen, La. This new production facility at LeMoyen is strategically located within a 60-mile radius of 150,000 acres of ROM’s 600,000 acres of forestland; a significant advantage. The sawmill features computer controlled dry kilns, optimized headrigs and edgers and NHLA trained lumber graders. The process of manufacturing OSB begins with the pre-conditioning of whole, intact logs of small diameter in hot water vats. Pre-conditioning the logs produces wood strands and wafers of uniform size and thickness. The wood wafers and strands are then dried and blended with liquid phenolic resin and directionally oriented into three alternating layers (at right angles to one another—much like three-layer plywood panel construction) on 8-foot-by-16-foot mats. Using heat and pressure, the wafers and strands are permanently bonded together using a temperature of 385 degrees F and 16 million pounds of pressure. The result is a consistently strong and durable OSB panel with a smooth surface finish on one face and a textured, non-skid surface finish on the other face of the panel. Strict criteria and testing is used to maintain quality control.

Tough stuff

Used for roof and wall sheathing, subflooring and utility (non-code compliant) construction, Tuff Strand OSB provides excellent dimensional stability and surface uniformity. Since it contains no knotholes, core gaps, splits and/or pitch pockets, it is ideal for use as a sheathing product. When used as sheathing for roof and walls, it requires a weatherproof covering such as asphalt-impregnated felt building paper. It can be applied directly to the framing members with fasteners. When used as wall sheathing, it does not require corner bracing to resist racking loads. For use as subflooring, Tuff Strand must be installed perpendicular to the floor joists and covered with minimum 1/4-inch underlayment and various floor coverings. For lightweight concrete and similar poured floor slab applications, the edges of the OSB panels must be supported by rough wood blocking.

ROM has been manufacturing OSB since 1983 and is a major player in the worldwide OSB market producing 420 million feet per year. For its forest management and quality manufacturing process, Tuff Strand enjoys an excellent reputation among wholesalers, distributors and end-users. Being less expensive than traditional plywood and like plywood, solid and puncture resistant, it is an alternative to more costly softwood plywood panels. Tuff Strand complies with the requirements of most model and local building codes and is certified by TECO for compliance with its TECO Sheathing Span Performance Rated Requirements (a TECO certification stamp appears on each panel). Tuff Strand OSB comes in three thicknesses for standard 48-inch-by-96-inch panels; 7/16 inch, 15/32 inch and 19/32 inch. Panels 3/8-inch thick or greater are generically recognized to have a Class C (III) flame spread rating. It is not intended for use as residential siding and/or applications whereby surface primers/paint is required. It should be stored in a manner to avoid excessive moisture pick-up (like all wood products), indoors preferably on a dry surface such as concrete. For outdoor storage, cover loosely (for proper air circulation) with plastic or a tarp and keep it off the ground. Tuff Strand OSB is designated Exposure 1 durability: “For protected construction applications whereby ability to resist moisture during long construction delays or where conditions of similar severity are required.” Cut-outs for mechanical/electrical/plumbing should be a minimum 1/4-inch oversize to avoid a force-fit and standard woodworking tools are applicable.

With four manufacturing plants in Louisiana and a variety of wood products, including:

• Plywood panels

• OSB rated sheathing and the GRID panel system

• Hardwood lumber

• Utility poles

ROM and its 1,100 employees are one of the largest privately owned wood products company in the southern U.S. Managing nearly 600,000 acres of timberland and planting 10,000 to 12,000 acres (4 to 6 million trees) annually is not for the timid. The company has succeeded by adhering to its six corporate values:

• Respect • Integrity

• Commitment • Honesty

• Excellence • Stewardship

If, as they say, “fortune favors the bold,” then ROM no doubt will thrive where others fail. The company’s bold approach to environmentally conscious forest management bodes well for the future of the wood products industry in the United States. Learn more at