Inland West Business Trends

Share this...

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Lumber providers in the Inland West region report good business for their products, with one source summing the market up this way: “It’s pricey.”

“There’s a lot of interest in buying our products,” a lumberman from Montana stated, “but the availability of raw material for our remanufactured products is pretty slim.” Therefore, these raw materials are “pricey.”

He observed, “The dynamics of the market are kind of a double-edged sword. Sales have never been easier. Sourcing has never been harder. I wouldn’t say the market is better or worse than it was a few months ago; it’s kind of adapting to the new atmosphere that is both exciting and challenging at the same time.”

This lumberman provides Ponderosa Pine, Lodge Pole Pine, Engelmann Spruce, Spruce Pine Fir, Douglas Fir and Larch. “Doug Fir and Larch boards are virtually non-existent,” he noted. His best sellers are Ponderosa Pine and Lodge Pole Pine boards. Thicknesses range from 1×4 through 1×12 and 2×4 through 2×12.

His sales are mostly to distributors, wholesalers and some end users. The end users tend to be large barn builders, log home builders and larger construction companies in his locale. How is business for his customers? “Their sales have doubled if not tripled,” he reported. “Their volume is just exploding right now.”

How long does he think such a boom will continue? “As people start to travel,” he ventured, “I think they might not be spending five-grand on a house remodel. I think the home centers are going to determine a lot of what our future looks like as, kind of a middleman. So, if that retail demand begins to go down as people start to travel again, you could start to see the market regress. And, if interest rates go up, people might hold off a little more on those new home builds.”

Not only has lumber become pricey, so, too, has transportation. “Freight, at least from what I’ve seen, went from about $1.75 a mile to anywhere from $2.10 to $2.90 a mile,” he stated. “We have trucks that normally move in three days that have been sitting for weeks, trying to get them moved at a reasonable rate.”

In Idaho, one source described the market there as “very good. Pricing is very good. Sales are good. It’s hard for them not to be good in this market.”

Compared to several months ago, the market, he said, is better. “We’re selling everything we get, and prices are higher.”

He sells Ponderosa Pine No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4; Idaho White Pine (in Sterling, Standard and Utility grades); and Cedar decking.

Is there a best seller? Not really, he replied, stating that, “We sell it all, in terms of what the mill makes. There are no weak items in any of our species. We sell more No. 3 Common Pine boards than No. 2 Common because we make more, but basically, we’re sold to the pavement on everything. When it comes out of the planer, we sell it, and that’s it for the day.”

He sells mostly to distributors. His customers’ businesses are “going very well,” he noted.

As for transportation, he said trucks and rail are hard to get “but still moving.”

Down in Arizona, a source stated that his business is “very, very busy. There’s lots of demand. There’s more demand than we have product. Everybody is struggling to get inventory from the mills. Lumber is hard to get. We stock Spruce, SPF, White Fir, Douglas Fir and studs and Select Struct White Fir. Our customers switch their orders between species, because there are so many challenges getting lumber. People will buy whatever you have – if you have it. Right now,” he continued, “all the species are hot. However, generally speaking, Doug Fir is probably our biggest mover.”

Compared to six months earlier, the market is “about the same,” he observed. “It’s been crazy for the last year, actually.”

His customers include wholesalers and distribution yards. However, they don’t give him feedback on how their businesses are faring.

Transportation is “absolutely” a problem, he stated. “It’s taken up to a month to get truckloads covered out of the Northwest at really high prices. And most rail cars are running somewhere between two and three weeks late. So, it’s a big deal right now.”

A lumberman in Wyoming reported that the market there is “still strong.” In fact, it’s stronger, he said, than it was a half a year ago. “Demand is stronger than it was a few months ago,” he said.

The lumber he handles is Pine in all grades. He sells this lumber to both end users and distribution yards. “Everybody’s got a lot of angst,” he reported. “Everybody’s frustrated because the lumber supply is limited, but they know there’s nothing they can do about it, so they just do what they can. Supply certainly can’t keep up with the pace of demand right now. The distribution yards sell everything they can get in. A lot of it is sold as they get it, and the price is not fixed. Everybody’s selling at the time of delivery.”

Transportation is OK for this lumber provider. “As far as the supply of transportation, that has leveled out,” he said. “It’s still much more costly. To open up the lanes we needed, we had to start paying more. We’ve been paying between 60 and 75 to 80 percent more on certain lanes to keep the material moving. We’ve been doing that for about six months.” 

By Terry Miller

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

Share This
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Related Articles
Business Trends
Miller Wood Trade Publications

Northeast Business Trends

By Lydian KenninStaff Writer In the Northeast, the market for Softwood lumber is “strong” as described by many, though with complications with stock and demand

Read More »
Business Trends
Matthew Fite

Southeast Business Trends

The Softwood lumber markets in the Southeast are in positive territory, according to sources there, and some firms are experiencing unprecedented success. “This is as

Read More »
Business Trends
Richard Lipman

Quebec/Ontario Business Trends

An Ontario producer summed up current trends by saying, “The market is very, very strong right now. There was another rally again last week, which

Read More »
Business Trends
Paul Miller

Midwest Business Trends

Business for Softwood lumber providers in the Midwest is strong. It’s just that, for some of them, negative factors are getting in the way. In

Read More »
Business Trends
Zach Miller

West Coast Business Trends

Spring has sprung and the all-time-high lumber prices continue unabated throughout the U.S. due to an imbalance in supply and demand that will most likely

Read More »