Inland West Business Trends – November/December 2022

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Sources said, at the time of this writing, that the market in the Inland West region is continuing to stay steady. One source did remark that the lower grade markets are tougher than the higher grade markets.

A lumber representative in Idaho said that his market has been decent, “Our customers are buying what we are making,” he said. He did note that his sales were better three months ago, with dimension lumber not selling as well. He also remarked that the economy isn’t inspiring to buy at the time of this writing.

He deals with Ponderosa Pine and Cedar in a variety of grades. He has Ponderosa Pine in measurements of 1×4 through 1×12, as well as 5/4 shop. He has Cedar in 1×4 through 1×12 and 2×4 through 2×12 measurements as well as 5/4 decking. Ponderosa Pine upper grade 2C is his best seller, followed by Cedar boards.

This lumber representative sells mainly to distribution yards, and he stated their business is still doing well. “What’s responsible for the softness in the market is the distribution yards trying to trim their inventory. It’s a normal, seasonal pattern,” he noted. He added that they are still moving wood, but they are trying to lower their perceived risk.

When it comes to transportation, he said that trucks have gotten a little bit better and that rail has gone from horrible to mediocre. “We’re doing alright. The wood’s getting moved. It’s working,” he said.

In Wyoming, a sawmill representative said that sales to customers who deal in shop work hasn’t changed much over the past few months. “Upper and shop grades are trading very well. The lower grades are struggling. It seems that there is an awful lot of it available on the market right now,” he said.

He said that the market seems worse than it was six months ago. “Activity and trading levels are both lower now than they were six months ago,” he commented.

This sawmill representative deals with, Ponderosa Pine, Lodgepole Pine boards, Ponderosa Pine shop, and ESLP studs, all in one inch. “The higher grades in all these species are selling better. Lower grades aren’t selling as well because they seem to have a higher production rate right now,” he said. He also noted that it seemed that there was salvaging going on in the West, at the time of this writing, as fire damaged trees are being harvested. “They just aren’t getting the type of recovery that they typically do,” he added.

He primarily sells to distribution yards and, based on his conversations with these customers they have continued to have a steady market.

Transportation hasn’t affected his company in a negative way as they have a dispatch desk that will ship out all the material out of their sawmills.

A lumber salesman in Utah said that his market has been solid, but that there have been signs of the market slowing down as the orders have started to come in slower.

He said that demand is down, and the market is worse than it was six months ago. Despite the market being worse, he said, “Prices being down has helped as far as functioning as a business.”

He deals almost completely in economy, mostly ESLP and some Douglas Fir and Hem Fir. He has all of these in No. 2 Common and 2×4.

When asked about how transportation was for his company he said, “It’s pretty tough. It’s gotten and continues to be expensive, and it is not reliable.”

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

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

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