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Robert L. Berg

B.S. Forest Science, 1976

Robert L. “Bob” Berg, earned a B.S. in Forest Science at Penn State in 1976 and completed course work towards a master's degree in Forest Resources (focusing on forest economics and finance), also at Penn State. He has worked as a professional economist in the forest products industry for more than 35 years.

Bob is a founding partner (1985) of RISI, the country’s premier economic forecasting company for forest products industries. He specialized in the wood products and timber segments with a special emphasis on price forecasts. Bob built the solid wood, engineered lumber, structural panel, and sawtimber models that RISI continues to use in generating market forecasts. Bob has also co-authored major studies on the softwood lumber, panel, and timber end-use markets and industries, with a focus on price forecasting. His economic forecasts are known for being unbiased, even in the face of outside pressures from various constituents. At RISI he advanced professionally from senior economist to controller to chief operating officer and chief financial officer.

After leaving RISI in 2007, Bob took a position as operating partner at Atlas Holdings, a private equity company specializing in forest- and paper-based industries. He focused on the building materials sector and assisted Atlas in determining valuations of industry investments and providing capital to wood manufacturers. Bob returned to RISI in 2009 as economic advisor to the Wood Products Group and is currently mentoring a new generation of forecast economists.

Bob also worked for our School of Forest Resources for two years after leaving RISI in 2007, supported by a small USDA Forest Service grant to study the hardwood industry. Bob was willing to work at a very low hourly rate because he wanted to give back to the University. Bob created a database and models to help generate economic forecasting for the hardwood industry and to identify market opportunities. He also co-authored a quarterly newsletter for industry participants, and he helped write several white papers. Other outcomes of his work in the School included presentations for commonwealth agencies such as the Hardwood Development Council, for trade associations such as the PA Forest Products Association, and for various wood products courses at Penn State. Even after the grant ended, Bob continued to be invited to give presentations throughout Pennsylvania.

Bob has also been involved in various community activities ranging from chairman of the town finance committee to sitting on the local board of directors for Habitat for Humanity. And he looks forward to getting back to these activities as he moves toward retirement from RISI (for the last time he hopes).

Bob and his wife Libby live in Julian, PA. When not working, Bob can be found in his woodshop when the weather is bad, and riding the highways and byways on his motorcycle with Libby when the weather permits. Two cross-country trips on his motorcycle have provided Bob with the opportunity to cruise timber in all regions of the United States and Western Canada. Rest assured, the IRS did not allow Bob to expense his motorcycle trip when he claimed he needed to survey the damage done by the mountain pine beetle in British Columbia firsthand.