Northeast Business Trends

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The market for Hardwood lumber in the Northeast is strong. According to a lumber provider in Pennsylvania, it is “very strong,” even “exceptionally strong.” This lumberman stated, “Our kilns are full. We are producing lumber as quickly as we can. Orders are going out at a very brisk pace, with many customers ordering ahead so they do not run out of inventory. We’re busy.” Asked if there are any “dead items,” he replied, “There’s really not any dead items. We’re moving at a pretty good pace here. It’s great to see.”

Compared to several months earlier, he observed that the market was “of course, much better. We really saw the increase starting to come around last September. Business has been strong since then and has been steadily increasing. I don’t know when a slowdown will happen. We’ve gone through some difficult markets over the years. Each day we have now is certainly a good thing. There doesn’t seem to be any let-up in sight right now with the customers that we talk to.”

He handles Hard and Soft Maple, Cherry, Poplar, Red Oak, Hickory and Ash in 4/4 through 8/4, FAS through Rustic. Sales are to distribution yards, end users and wholesalers. These customers’ businesses are faring “exceptionally well right now,” he stated. “One of the biggest challenges for a lot of our competitors, suppliers and customers is labor,” he noted. “You can’t get the labor. You also can’t find trucks. We have many loads of lumber that are ready; you just can’t put a truck underneath it. We really need to get some people back to work.”

A concentration yard executive in Pennsylvania said demand is high and product is “not as hard to get.” Therefore, he stated, his market was better than it had been several months ago.

He handles mainly 4/4 No. 2 Common and Better Walnut, No. 2 Common and Better Hard and Soft Maple and Cherry. Walnut, he said, is “by far the best seller.”

He sells his lumber to distribution yards, end users and “anyone who needs lumber.” His customers’ fiscal health can be seen in the fact that they keep buying more lumber, he stated. Transportation is starting to get better for his concentration yard, he observed.

In New York, a distribution yard executive – who buys green lumber, kiln dries it and sells it – says his market is “good. We seem to be buying the lumber we need to buy and we’re able to sell the lumber we have for sale.” His market is better, he said, than it was six months earlier.

He sells Red and White Oak, Hard Maple and Cherry in No. 1 Common, No. 2 Common, FAS/1 Face and Better; 4/4 through 8/4. His best seller is White Oak.

He sells his lumber to distribution yards, and he said his customers’ sales are good.

Transportation isn’t a problem for this lumberman. “We have three or four carriers we work really closely with, and we give them business when it’s slow and we give them business when it’s fast. Also, we pay them fast. That pay has something to do with it. When they send us the bill, we send them money. That helps the relationship.”

A sawmiller from Vermont termed his market as “pretty strong.” He added: “Certainly we’ve made significant gains since December of last year. Also, pricing is better.” He sells all northern species, including Hard and Soft Maple, Red and White Oak, Birch and Cherry in No. 2 Common and Better, 4/4 and 5/4 with some 8/4.

His sales are to distribution yards. His customers’ business remains strong, he said. “It doesn’t seem as desperate a situation as it did eight to 10 weeks ago. That seems to have crested. I don’t know that our availability of lumber has changed a whole lot,” he stated. “But you don’t get beat with 15 phone calls every day with people trying to source lumber. They seem to be a little more comfortable. However, there is no lack of need for lumber from customers.”

Transportation is a problem, he noted. “There is a real lag, certainly from a week to three weeks. It’s slow getting wood out of here. All of our customers take care of their own transportation, so we don’t have direct contact with trucking contractors.” 

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

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

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