Across the board, sawmills in the Lake States region are reporting “strong” markets with high demand that are keeping lumber suppliers “really busy.”
In Michigan, one contact explained, “We’ve got a lot of demand, we’re just trying to keep up.” He reported that demand is not as “crazy” as it was two months ago, “but there is good demand on everything.” His company offers Hard and Soft Maple, Red and White Oak, Hickory, Walnut, Cherry, and Poplar. “I’d say the main demand is in Hard Maple and White Oak,” he stated.
This Michigan supplier sells “50/50” to end users and distribution yards. When asked about what customers are saying about the market for their products, the source explained, “Those guys said they all have a ton of orders,” and “pretty much anyone I talk to is busy.” The lumber supplier said that transportation has been “okay,” with access to flatbeds being easier to obtain than shipping containers. “Containers are a challenge,” he said. “Rates are up, but I think rates are up everywhere in the world.”
A sawmill representative in Wisconsin reported similar market trends. “It doesn’t matter what I saw,” said the contact. “I can sell it.” He explained that turnover is rapid with inventory moving quickly. “In most cases, they’re trying to sell domestically before it even comes out of the kilns,” the source stated.
Compared to several months ago, this sawmill is seeing a better market. “Six months ago, my market was still very strong, but the prices are better now,” he said. His company is heavy to Red Oak and White Oak, Basswood, Cherry, Hickory, and both Hard and Soft Maple, sawn mostly to 4/4 and 5/4.
When asked which species are selling best, the source laughed. “It really doesn’t matter, everything sells,” he replied. The sawmill sells mostly to end users, and some distribution yards. “They say their markets are really strong,” he said. “But I’m not going to lie to you. I get calls every week, and they’re trying to feel me out on what I’m hearing.” Transportation is giving this contact some trouble, but “not a lot.” He noted that getting containers is still a problem, however.
In Indiana, another source reported a strong market for Hardwood sales. “Demand is outpacing production in pretty much anything we produce,” the lumber supplier said. This company is experiencing a better market compared to six months ago, with the contact emphasizing it as “significantly better.”
His company offers mostly White and Red Oak in all grades, with everything selling well. The sawmill sells to both end users and distribution yards, with “a small amount of export.” The source reported his customers as all being very busy. “The end users, especially if they’re making cabinets, they are having a real hard time getting all the other things to make cabinets,” he said.
When asked if transportation was affecting his business, the contact replied, “Absolutely.” He observed an increase in domestic trucking prices as well as shortage of truck drivers. Exports have become increasingly difficult to book. He explained that even if he is able to find a booking, the chances are slim for there to actually be an available truck with a driver to get lumber to the port.
A lumber supplier in Ohio also reported a strong market with high demand in his area. He described the market as “better” than it was in the recent past. His company offers Ash, Cherry, Hard and Soft Maple, Red and White Oak and Poplar in thicknesses ranging from 4/4 to 16/4.
The best-sellers for this sawmill are White Oak and Poplar, which are sold to a mix of end users and distribution yards. “We sell to a retail store, and we sell to wholesalers,” the contact stated. Customers ask, “How quickly can we get it?” according to him. The supplier described transportation costs as “double” what they are normally, with a shortage of trucks to take lumber from the yard.