Lake States Business Trends

Oct Issue

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The Hardwood lumber markets in the Lake States continue to be strong.

A Michigan lumber provider said his market is “great, the best it’s ever been as far as sales go. However, obtaining materials is harder, prices we pay are up and materials are harder to come by.”

A few months ago, business was about the same, he stated. As it was then, “Everything is great as of now,” he said.

He handles Ash, Red and White Oak, Cherry, Cedar, Walnut and other species, along with softwood and imports. White Oak is his best seller. “As fast as we’re bringing White Oak in, it’s going out.” He sells to distribution yards, end users and a wide variety of other customers, who buy “from a single stick or sample up to a full truckload,” he noted. His customers’ businesses are “going well,” he observed. “Everyone’s really busy.

“Transportation always plays a factor in our business,” he remarked. “There are delays but they’re minor overall.”

In Wisconsin, a sawmill representative assessed his market as “pretty good. Maple is my best seller. Red Oak is my slowest selling specie right now. I won’t say it’s bad by any means, but it’s backed off. I’ll put it that way.” He said some of this slowing of sales is seasonal. As for the time of year, he said that lately, he has been able to air-dry his lumber before putting it in the kilns, and this yields more lumber to sell at a given time. Asked if this additional lumber has been moving, he replied, “For the most part, yes.”

His market is better, he stated, than it was several months ago “because I’ve been sawing a lot of Maple, and Maple is very strong.” In fact, Maple and White Oak are his best sellers. Other species he sells include Red Oak, Cherry, Hickory and Basswood. He sells his lumber mostly to end users but also to distribution yards. “All my customers that I talk to are doing very well,” he stated. “If they had more help, they’d be buying more lumber.

“Lately, we’ve been very fortunate with transportation,” he remarked. “It’s been good, and we haven’t had a lot of problems. However, for two or three weeks, we had a devil of a time getting trucks. Right now, domestic transportation is great. But containers are up in the air.” Asked why transportation seems to have improved, he said he didn’t know.

An Illinois sawmill spokesman said his market is good. “Everything seems to be moving really well except FAS Red Oak,” he commented. 

However, if you compare his market to a few months earlier, he stated, “I’d say things are tightening up a little bit, and it’s a little bit worse.”

He sells No. 3 and Better Red and White Oak, Hickory, Walnut, Cherry, Poplar, Ash and Cottonwood. His best sellers, he noted, are Ash, Hickory, Poplar and White Oak.

Primarily, he sells to distribution yards. He talked with a distribution yard customer recently, and that person said his business had “slowed down a little bit, and it was not as exciting as it had been. But product is still moving steadily. Their biggest problem is trucks, not being able to get them. Also, it is difficult to get containers to move lumber, so they almost cannot sell any export products.” 

However, transportation is good for this sawmill representative. “We have our own driver,” he explained. “He hauls our lumber.”

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

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

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