Lumber Forecasts For 2024

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2023 Proved To Be Successful – The Coming Year Holds Uncertainty
By Cadance Hanson

Across the board while many respondents said that 2023 was a successful year for them and their company, they feel that heading in to 2024 will provide just as much uncertainty as the last. They noted that while the market was slower than it has been in previous years, they were still able to exceed their sales goals and continue to build and maintain strong relationships with their clients.

One respondent said, “We made a point of identifying and worked to plug the holes in our systems that became evident in the previous two years of COVID insanity.” This has allowed their company to maintain strong margins and volumes.

“With the current economic environment, I suspect demand will stay on the softer side next year putting emphasis on quality products, reliability and great customer service,” another respondent commented.

Lumber Forecasts For 2024 1
Chris Bouchard

Chris Bouchard
Penticton, BC

2023 was a successful year, albeit the metrics were different than the previous few years. While overall dollars were down, margins and volumes remained strong. Old relationships were strengthened, and new ones born. We made a point of identifying and worked to plug the holes in our systems that became evident in the previous two years of COVID insanity. This year we’ve added several new members to our team on both our sales and administration side that will surely lead to growth, stability and better customer support in the coming years.

Our customers are mainly larger-scale distribution and remanufacturing partners globally, with approximately 65 percent in North America.

This year we launched ThermoWood® products. We see this product group as having a strong and mandatory future in our markets.

We have had a reputation of attracting industry talent for many years but finding new and aspiring lumber professionals continues to be a challenge. Remote working through COVID has made it easy to be anywhere and do our job, but to really learn this business we feel its best done through osmosis and lots of time in our office in Penticton, BC. Luckily, we live in a beautiful town which is attractive to young active families.

We are not having issues with transportation as we are getting 15 plus calls from new freight brokers daily, this is a sign of the market!

I feel the settlement of the current SLA will see the retirement of many near retired traders and be another catalyst in the everchanging North American wood supply base. I see this as a threat to less nimble companies – and an opportunity for ours.

Lumber Forecasts For 2024 2
Chris Brown

Chris Brown
Culpeper Wood Preservers
Culpeper, VA

2023 was a very successful year for our company. The challenges from previous years decreased and became more sustainable for our business. We projected a decline of 10-15 percent but saw an increase in volume from the previous year.

We only sell pressure treated wood to retail lumber yards.

We did not introduce any new products or services in 2023.

We did not install any new equipment.

Labor shortages were not an issue for us in 2023.

Trucking/shipping was much easier in 2023. We had no challenges and we actually saw the rates drop.

Lumber Forecasts For 2024 3
Dean Garofano

Dean Garofano
Delta Cedar Specialties
Pitt Meadows, BC

Overall 2023 was successful for Delta Cedar Specialties. Despite a slower market, we managed to exceed our sales targets and grow business with some key partners. With the current economic environment, I suspect demand will stay on the softer side next year putting emphasis on quality products, reliability and great customer service.

We sell our products to distributors across the US, Canada, Europe and Asia. Our best sellers this past year were our Delta Supreme and Superior fascia and decking as well as our Delta Premier timbers.

We have just completed the installation of an automated trim line with an 80 bin sorter at our Halo Sawmill.

Lumber Forecasts For 2024 4
Kelsey Kennedy

Kelsey Kennedy
Gates Milling
Gatesville, NC

2023 had its interesting challenges; however, we are lucky to say that Gates Milling has had a successful year.

Challenges we face for 2024 are on par with our usual concerns: log supply, market pricing and employee turnover.
Our customers are predominantly wholesale distribution. American Cypress™ finished products maintain their spot as our top selling items.

Gates Milling, Inc. introduced a new line of knotty poplar finished profiles this year. Customers have been extremely pleased with the price, appearance and workability of the items.

This year, we installed two 50,000 BF SII Package Dry Kilns. The addition of these two kilns has increased our total drying capacity to 240,000 BF which has had a very positive impact on order lead times and lumber availability.

Keeping a full staff has proved to be an ongoing challenge. We have raised wages and continue to add benefits to attract and maintain employees.

We have had good luck with shipping and logistics management this year. Hunter, our Logistics Manager, does a phenomenal job of keeping trucks under loads and ensuring timely delivery.

Olivia Goodfellow
Goodfellow Inc.
Delson, QC

In 2023, we at Goodfellow proudly celebrated our 125th anniversary. This important milestone was celebrated with our employees, customers and suppliers who all share our passion for wood products and the industry. While market conditions in certain sectors were challenging, these circumstances were nothing new for our team. We navigated them by working with our suppliers and supporting customers – an approach that has served us for many decades and continues to deliver positive results for the company.

We have customers from coast to coast in Canada and the U.S. and fall under residential, commercial, retail, industrial and government sectors. Because our product offering and customers are so diverse, there were no clear product winners this year. However, certain product categories were strong such as structural timbers and engineered wood products.

We had no significant new products or services added to our offering.

In 2022, we saw the implementation of our new finger-jointer and Hundegger, but not in 2023.

Like many in our industry, we are facing an aging workforce with more and more employees retiring each year. We are challenged with transferring their knowledge and expertise to the next generation while also attracting new talent. Some of the initiatives we have implemented include employee referral, social media and job fairs.

Logistical issues with domestic and international transport, freight and shipping were more dramatic during the height of the pandemic, but in 2022 and 2023 the astronomical costs and back-logs returned to normal levels. While there are still challenges within the system, they are more predictable and allow us to offer more reliable service levels.

Lumber Forecasts For 2024 5
Aiden Coyles

Aidan Coyles
Gilbert Smith Forest Products
Barriere, BC

When you take into account all the headwinds in the market this year, I would define what we were able to achieve by taking zero days out of production a success. Employee acquisition, training and retention will be one of the biggest challenges of 2024.

Our customers are secondary remanufacturers. The products that remained strongest for us year-round were Western Red Cedar 8-inch and wider products.

In 2023 we introduced kiln-dried products out of our mill for the first time ever.

We installed a new Nyle Dehumidification Kiln and integrated sticker stacker for kiln sticks.

Having enough employees has proven to be a problem for us. We are continuing to provide more opportunities for growth within the company and offering more training opportunities and cross training in order to hopefully retain more employees.

Transportation seems to have leveled out in terms of price. Reliability can be a challenge.

Having any additional tariff on lumber manufactured in British Columbia is a challenge as the province is consistently becoming more expensive to operate in.

Lumber Forecasts For 2024 6
Dave Halsey

Dave Halsey
Patrick Lumber Company
Philomath, OR

2023 has exceeded our expectations, 2024 has a similar uncertainty to last year’s planning due to geopolitical and economic conditions. Interest rates and the election cycle figure to be most relevant in forward planning. Patrick Lumber plans to further invest in our people, processing and remain focused on our core businesses.

The upper grades of Softwoods, especially Vertical Grain clears were the best movers in 2023 for our distribution customer base. Contemporary design elements in high-end home construction across the USA were in favor. Timber frame construction, which we highlighted in our headquarters building in Philomath, also has a strong showing in 2023.

In 2023, we expanded our low grade customer base in several Softwood categories including Southern Yellow Pine.

We continued expanding the hardwood lumber business, especially West Coast hardwoods like oak, maple and alder.

We purchased 10 acres next to our Philomath kiln and re-saw facility late in 2022 and began production in early 2023 of West Coast hardwoods. We continued to add to the mill installing more equipment. In 2024 we plan to complete installation of a Salem headrig which should increase production 10x. Our customers are showing high levels of interest in the West Coast hardwoods that have been historically slash burned in the forest or sent to the pulp markets.

Lumber Forecasts For 2024 7
Steven Rogers

Steven Rogers
Richardson Timbers
Dallas, TX

We at Richardson Timbers had a good year over the course of 2023. It was basically flat compared to 2022 but that was expected. We expect 2024 also to be flat depending on world events and the economy in our market area.

We sell to retail lumber yards. Douglas Fir was our strongest product this year and is most years.

We have opened a new facility in Bertram, TX. This will allow us to up our production and provide better lead times.

With our new facility comes new equipment. We now have four resaws and have a new Cantex double blade resaw, new to the market, that was installed at the end of 2023.

Retaining and hiring employees have not been an issue in 2023 for us, and neither has transportation.

We continue to look for quality employees in all of our main business units. The strong support for wood products in Benton County home of Oregon State University, a land grant school, has helped in recruiting.

Losing ocean service to Europe from Portland and then Tacoma has increased the shipping costs for European customers. Along with the strong USD$ this has been the biggest impact.

Right now, we don’t have any concerns with tariffs, we are dealing with them just like everyone else. Therefore, it’s a level playing field and has no impact.

Lumber Forecasts For 2024 8
Alden Robbins

Alden Robbins
Robbins Lumber Company
Searsmont, ME

2023 is turning out to be an adjustment year. The market was not as strong as the past couple of years, but we were still able to move lumber. 2023 has been a big year for our company as we had a large acquisition and a couple of large capital projects. For 2024 I would like to see the capital projects start to pay off and would like to see less volatility in the markets, and like to start getting our costs under control. Inflationary pressures have squeezed margins very tight this year.

Our end market is primarily the independent retail yard serving pro builders. Outside the state of Maine, we service these accounts through wholesale distribution companies.

We offered our customers more capacity with the additional mills we acquired. Many of our customers have grown and we felt we had to grow with them in order to continue servicing them.

In our sawmill we have installed a new precision chipper, a new Lico high speed edger, a Comact edge expert scanner and a new unscrambler and infeed from Lico. This should get us better grade recovery and eliminate the bottleneck at the edger.

Employees are difficult to find right now at all of our facilities. We are paying more than we used to, and trying to get creative, but it’s not easy.

Domestically, shipping has eased up and trucks are easier to find. Internationally, we have a strong low-grade market in South Asia, and with political turmoil, the market can be very sporadic.

Currently we are not affected by Tariffs with the market we service.

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

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

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