Northeast Business Trends

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By Lydian Kennin
Staff Writer

In the Northeast, sawmills are still experiencing high demand for Softwood lumber, with sources throughout the region reporting a “really busy” market. “It’s probably as strong as we’ve ever seen it,” said one lumber supplier in New Hampshire. “There’s just not enough wood in the world, it seems,” he continued. 

His company sells Eastern White Pine, with production described as “steady” and at an increasing demand since a few months ago. This sawmill offers exclusively 4/4 sawn at 1-inch thick in all NELMA grades and patterns. “It’s all going at this point,” he said. 

According to this lumber supplier, 6-inch and 8-inch tongue-and-groove boards are more popular and are the first to become scarce.

This supplier sells through both wholesale distributors and lumber brokers, who have also commented on the busy market. “It’s sort of a wild rollercoaster ride we’re all on together,” the source explained. “Their customers are in the same boat. There just doesn’t seem to be enough lumber to go around at the moment.” In New Hampshire, the availability of trucks is unpredictable. “For us in the Northeast, it’s been a little up and down,” the contact said. “The trucks have been coming great in the last couple of weeks, but then like one week a month we hit a rough patch, and it gets a little tight.” 

A source in Maine described business as “strong,” with new home construction “rampant” due to little unsold inventory on the market. When asked how the market in his region compares to a few months ago, the contact responded that demand for Softwood products is “very high,” but with construction jobs being postponed due to volatility. “None of us have seen situations like this,” he said. 

His company exclusively handles Eastern White Pine in NELMA grades from 4/4, 5/4 and 8/4 thicknesses. According to him, Selects are selling well but are “extremely” hard to come by, and 6-inch and 8-inch Premiums are also selling strongly. “It looks like we’re finally starting to see a little bit of supply on the dimensional lumber,” he said. “But you know, we’re in a board market, and boards are just nonexistent right now.” 

His company sells to retail lumber yards, who have expressed their own frustrations with the market fluctuations. “They’ve seen this continual price escalation, volatility and lack of availability,” he said. “They don’t mind paying more for their product, they just need to get it.”

The contact expressed that he does not anticipate “numbers” to return to what they were five years ago due to an absent influx of board production. In Maine, “trucks have been harder to come by,” he said. “Trucking companies are throwing out all kinds of crazy numbers to try to get people to go to work for them. There’s a problem there. There’s a big problem.”

A source in Vermont described the market as “very strong” with “really high demand.” Unlike the other sources, this supplier is observing similar market trends to a few months ago. 

His business exclusively sells Eastern White Pine, with multiple grades and thicknesses ranging from 1-inch to 4-inch. “I mean, everything is selling right now,” he said. “I’d say particularly Premium grades and Shop grades.” 

This sawmill primarily sells to wholesalers and also sells to retail lumber yards and other sawmills. “They’re all really busy,” said the contact. Like the other sources, he has observed issues in transportation, but described it as “not too bad” in his area.

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

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

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