Lake States Business Trends

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Lumber providers in the Lake States region report lots of business, higher prices and strong sales. Some of their customers are finding more wood, but, according to one source, “It’s not easy.”

A Michigan sawmill source said, “It’s still pretty crazy-busy.” The market, he stated, is better than it was several months ago. “It started to get hot about four to five months ago,” he noted. “It’s been crazy.”

He provides Hard and Soft Maple, Hickory, Red and White Oak and Walnut, mainly in 4/4 through 8/4 thicknesses, with some 10/4 and 12/4. His best seller, he said, is Hard Maple. His customers are both end users and distribution yards. “They’re pretty busy,” he reported. “They’re starting to find wood – but it’s not easy.” During one recent month, his firm had about 140 percent more in sales than in an average month.

Transportation, he pointed out, has been a struggle, “not terrible but a little bit of a struggle. Not having enough wood is the biggest problem right now, though.”

“Up, up, up,” is how an Indiana lumberman described his market as being in positive territory. “Lumber prices are going through the roof.” He added, “We’re getting enough lumber to keep us running OK. Also, demand is extremely strong.”

His market is better, he stated, “but last year was good, too.” He is capitalizing on “tons of new opportunities, mainly because of supply and demand issues. We’ve had very little pushback as far as price increases go.”

Species he handles include White Hard Maple and Soft Maple, Red Oak and Cherry, mainly in 4/4. Soft Maple is his best seller.

He sells mainly to end users, including the biggest kitchen cabinet companies in the nation. His customers also include RV firms. “Most people we talk to in the kitchen cabinet business claim they could be doing 25 to 30 percent more business, but not having enough employees is holding them back,” he remarked. Transportation is a problem, he added. Freight prices are up at least 50 percent.

In Minnesota, a Hardwood lumber flooring manufacturer said, “We’re very busy right now. Our sales are good. Our lead time now is six to 10 weeks out. We’re that busy.” She said the market for her firm’s products is better than it was in recent memory.

She handles Red and White Oak, Hickory, Walnut, Cherry and Maple, all Select and Better in No. 1 Common and character. Thicknesses range from 5/8 to 3/4. Her best seller is White Oak.

She sells to distributors. “Some customers in New York say their market is really bad, and others say it’s really good. It’s all over the board right now.”

She noted, “The price of transportation is outrageous. My customers pay their own freight, so there’s a lot of complaining with the freight charges. But they still pay it because they have no choice.”

In Wisconsin, a lumber provider stated that the market for her products is “actually pretty good. It’s doing well.” In fact, her market is better than it was six months earlier. “The prices have increased,” she said, “and demand is higher. The demand is commanding higher prices, which helps any sawmill.”

She sells Hard and Soft Maple, Yellow and White Birch, Cherry, White Ash, Brown Ash, Basswood and Aspen in 4/4, 5/4 and some 9/4. Her best seller, she noted, is 4/4 Hard Maple.

She sells her lumber to end use manufacturers. “Our biggest customer makes door stiles and railings for doors,” she stated. “Our No. 1 customer can’t get enough Hard Maple, so he’s obviously doing well when he gets the product he needs. Overall, our customers are doing well.”

Transportation, she said, is “a huge factor in a negative way. It’s very, very difficult to get trucks to haul our product. We’ve noticed that more so probably in the last two to three months than we ever have in the industry.”

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

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

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