Lake States Business Trends

Nov Issue

Share this...

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

The state of the Hardwood lumber industry in the Lake States could be summed up in two words: “pretty good.” That’s the message from lumbermen in three different states.

In Wisconsin, a lumber provider judged his market as “overall, pretty good. I would say that it has slowed down from the early part of the year. I think some of the customers are getting caught up on their buying, not the low grades but the upper end. They’re still buying, but it’s not to the degree that I’ve got people calling me daily to buy lumber.” 

He handles Red and White Oak, Cherry, Hickory, Hard and Soft Maple, Basswood, Aspen and Ash. The best seller, he noted, is either Hard or Soft Maple. He sells this lumber to distribution yards but more to end users. His customers are end users who manufacture flooring, moulding, cabinets and doors. “Overall, their sales are going pretty well,” he said. “The biggest issue they have is labor. If they could get more workers, they could buy more lumber and get more orders.

“Transportation has not been a problem for us,” he noted. “We’ve got an ongoing good relationship with trucking companies.”

A Michigan sawmill representative said his company’s business is good. “It’s no longer crazy-good, but it’s good,” he added.

Compared to six months earlier, he said his markets are worse “because six months ago, we were breaking records, and we’re not breaking records now.”

He sells Hard and Soft Maple, Red and White Oak, Hickory, Cherry and Walnut mostly. His best sellers, he pointed out, are Hard and Soft Maple, White Oak and Walnut. “Nothing is selling really slow,” he observed. This lumber is sold to end users and distribution yards. Their business is doing well, he observed.

As for impediments to their business, “Transportation is a little tough,” he said. “But getting logs is OK.”

An Indiana lumberman said the markets are “pretty strong” for his company. “Lumber is flying out the door. Log supplies are a little down, so inventories are kind of low. But we are making lumber as fast as we can and shipping out as fast as we can. We’re able to keep up for the most part. Our customers don’t have to wait that long for our products.”

On the downside, he said it’s hard “to find the help we need. Just like everyone else, we’re hurting for good workers and that’s put a damper on our production.”

Compared to a few months earlier, business has “kind of plateaued,” he observed. “It’s still pretty hot. Several months ago, it was probably moving a lot quicker. But it’s still positive.”

Most of the lumber he sells is Walnut, Red and White Oak, Poplar, Cherry, Hard and Soft Maple and Hickory. Thicknesses range from 4/4 to 8/4 on all species and, on certain species, 10/4 to 12/4 to 16/4. He sells No. 2 Common and Better, some No. 3 Common and Rustic. The best seller is between White Oak and Walnut. Rift and Quartered White Oak is hot as well, he said. This lumber is sold to end users and, a little more, to distribution yards. “We mainly aim for truckload quantities,” he noted, “but some customers closer to us can get partial truckloads.” For companies with which his company does business, “Everything seems to be going pretty steady still.”

Transportation is a problem for him as it pertains to “the container side, ocean liners. Those guys are slowing us down. Random charges are being added, and you never know when your product is going to actually ship out. For domestic deliveries, we seem to be doing alright. We have three trucks of our own. We take care of our customers in our sales area. We try to work very closely with the trucking companies, too.” 

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

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

Share This
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Related Articles
Feature Stories
Miller Wood Trade Publications

The American Chestnut’s Last Stand

The mighty and majestic American Chestnut tree (Castanea dentata), once the dominant tree across the Appalachian Mountain Range of the Eastern United States, has all

Read More »
Feature Stories
Miller Wood Trade Publications

Inside America’s Broken Supply Chain

By David J. Lynch(c) 2021, The Washington Post  The commercial pipeline that each year brings $1 trillion worth of toys, clothing, electronics and furniture from

Read More »