Inland West Business Trends

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Inland West Business Trends 1
By Terry Miller

Inland West Softwood lumber suppliers reported, at the time of this writing, spotty market activity with some sources citing a slight increase in business while others accounted for down trending market activity.

In Idaho, one source said market conditions for Softwood are better than the previous six months. “We’ve seen a little bit of uptick in market demand. Also, we are seeing a reduction in production.”

Handling White Fir, Fir and Larch, Ponderosa Pine and Engelmann Spruce in 1×2 through 1×12, the contact said Ponderosa Pine boards and White Fir dimension are his best moving items. Slower products included are Cedar boards.

As for his customers’ markets he accounted for spotty conditions. “To be honest some markets are busy and other markets are still very weather dependent because we’re just coming out of winter.”

He noted that transportation availability and pricing are good. “Conditions are generally a little bit better during an election year but I don’t personally think interest rates are going to change anytime soon,” he commented. “When you’re talking about $400,000 homes at seven percent interest, it’s quite a different story from the three percent we had a few years ago. I’m certainly optimistic for what’s ahead but I think we’re going to wait a bit before we see changes in rates.”

A Utah Softwood lumber supplier mentioned a slightly downward trend. “We usually have a spring rebound but that’s not happened yet. It feels a little late but we’re hoping it still happens.”

Stating that conditions are still slightly better than the first of the year he said all of the species he carries (mostly Douglas Fir and Engelmann Spruce Pine Fir) are moving about the same. He is able to offer his lumber surfaced in thicknesses of 1×4-4×8 and in lengths 8-feet through 16-feet.

The source said his industrial customer markets are slow. “I haven’t had any conversations but the proof is in the inventory. They’re not buying at the rate that they were this time last year,” he said.

As for other factors involved, the contact said, “I think people are trying to be positive. But with interest rates combined with inflation, conditions are difficult. Inflation is down but it’s not gone away. Prices are still going up, maybe not at the rate of a year ago but prices still are inching up. Overall people want to be positive but nothing has come to fruition yet.”

He did say transportation conditions are good. “Transportation isn’t a headache right now,” he said. “Fuel is starting to jump up again so that might get a little bumpy. I think business will increase a little bit with the summer months but I don’t think it will be as good as it was last year.”

In Wyoming a source said activity for Softwoods is slow. “My understanding is that building is slower due to the interest rates and the availability of money,” he commented.

As for what remains for the year the contact said, “I think we’ll see some increase over the winter activity certainly, but it isn’t going to be brisk.”

His company offers Douglas Fir in 1×4-2×12 thickness and in lengths 8-feet through 16-feet, as well as 4/4 Common, 4/4 Select, 5/4 and thicker Common and Select boards.

By Terry Miller

Editor, Marketing Consultant, and Third generation publisher. With Miller Wood Trade Publications since 1983.

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By Terry Miller

Editor, Marketing Consultant, and Third generation publisher. With Miller Wood Trade Publications since 1983.

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