Inland West Business Trends

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In the Inland West region, one lumberman said his sales are slow, but others interviewed had good things to say about their markets at the time of this writing.

In Arizona, a Softwood lumber provider noted that his market was “very slow at the moment.” He observed that there were two, opposite sides to his business. His customers who supplied single family homes were “extremely slow” in buying lumber. Meanwhile, those who provided lumber to the multifamily side were “fairly busy.” With that in mind, he stated, his market was better several months ago.

He handles No. 2 and Better Green Doug Fir, No. 2 and Better White Fir and No. 2 and Better Dry Doug Fir and White Fir Studs. Thicknesses included: Doug Fir 2×4 through 2×12; White Fir 2×4 and 2×6, and studs 2×4 and 2×6. His best seller, he noted, was Doug Fir, because it’s used in multifamily dwellings.

His sales are to distribution yards. “A lot of these companies sell to single family homes, so their business is way off.” His lumber is transported by rail, and, he said, “Railroad issues are not any worse than normal. The problems we face are just market-driven; transportation is not affecting our business.”

An Idaho lumber provider reported that his market is good. “For this time of year, everything’s pretty good, all things considered. This is normally our slowest time of year. But wood’s still moving.

“A lot of our customers are trying to whittle their inventories down for the end of the year,” he said. “It’s positive that our customers are still making inquiries about wood and looking for deliveries of lumber that are prompt – which means they probably don’t have a lot of inventory out in the field. We view that as positive. They’re specific in their tallies which, we take, means they need the wood.”

He sells Doug Fir, Hem Fir, White Fir, Ponderosa Pine, White Pine and Cedar in No. 2 and Better, Select Struct, Utility, and Economy on the dimension lumber; No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 Common on Pine, architectural knotty in the Cedar; 2×4 through 2×12 in dimension, 1×4 through 1×12 in Pine boards; 2×4 through 2×12, 1×4- through 1×12 Cedar.

Mostly, he sells to distribution yards, home centers and remanufacturers. “Home centers are strong relative for the season,” he remarked. “The sales pace is very good for this time of the year. Stocking lumber yards are slower in line with what we would expect this time of year.”

This interview was held before a rail strike was either averted or carried out. “People are worried about the rail strike,” he reported. Otherwise, in transportation, trucks are available but not cheap. Overall, transportation is working; lumber is moving.”

In Montana, the news was very upbeat from a sawmill. The lumber spokesman said work at his mill was “steady. We have a little bit of a seasonal slowdown right now. But orders keep piling in and phone calls for sales are steady.”

Asked if his business was stronger or weaker than a few months earlier, he replied, “A little bit of both. With the seasonal slowdown, orders are not caught up, but we’re not out in our order file nearly as far timewise as we were earlier, which is nice. And the phone calls just don’t stop.”

He sells “local Montana species: Doug Fir, Larch, Lodgepole and Ponderosa Pine, White Pine, white wood and Cedar in No. 3 to D and Better, everything from 4/4 inch boards to 12×12 beams.

“We deal with everyone from homeowners to contractors to a guy building a bookshelf for his wife,” he stated. “Most contractors are one to two years out for building projects at this point. I don’t know if they’ve started slowing down any. I don’t see us slowing down for a couple of years.”

Transportation isn’t a problem for this lumberman as his mill owns trucks and most deliveries are local.

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

The premier online information source for the forest products industry since 1927.

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