Northeast Business Trends

Oct/Nov Issue

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Lumber sources in the Northeast region are reporting a steady market after months of price increases and low supply.

One salesman from a sawmill located in Maine stated that domestic Hardwood sales are strong, but the labor shortage has made the otherwise standard market difficult to navigate. 

“The biggest issue is the labor market,” he said. “We don’t have the personnel to run efficiently or take advantage of a strong market, especially in certain items.”

The source added that the labor shortage has slowed this mill’s production of high-grade Hardwood lumber, including Yellow Birch, Hard and Soft Maple, Ash and Red Oak, available in 4/4, 5/4, 6/4 and 8/4. The company also produces unfinished and prefinished Hardwood flooring and has a division for softwood.

“The demand for most items supersedes the supply by far,” he said. 

“I sell to yards and truckload-quantity end users, who are frustrated by price increases, but are overall doing well. 

“Business is good for most everyone,” he said. “I think it’s been difficult with price increases because they were so drastic there for a while, but with that being said, I think they’re able to pass a lot of those added costs onto their customers.”

The contact added, “It’s still frustrating, A: because of the supply. Finding the material they need is very frustrating, and B: every time they talk to one of our suppliers like myself, we’ll be asking for a higher price.”

According to him, the market has also slowed due to typical summer doldrums such as employees taking off for vacation, companies preparing for the fall season, and machine maintenance. 

Trucking prices have continued to increase during the past several months, as has the cost of lumber. However, this source from Maine believes it has stabilized. 

“I think it’s starting to reach a plateau at this stage,” he said.

In Pennsylvania, the vice president of one distribution/concentration yard also reported that the market is settling from the chaos of earlier months. 

“It’s pretty stable, holding up pretty steady for us on our end,” he said. He added that there is still quite a bit of demand for kiln-dried products, but prices have stopped climbing. “It’s about the same, price-wise.”

This source’s company purchases Red and White Oak, Hard and Soft Maple, Hickory, Walnut, Cherry and Poplar in No. 2 Common and Better, 4/4, 5/4, and 8/4. This yard offers retail and wholesale of kiln-dried rough lumber to customers including the wholesale market, cabinetmakers, and retail.

“They’re staying caught up with their work as well,” he said. 

This contact outsources transportation for his business, but he said “from my understanding, there’s definitely a hold-up on the back-end.” 

A co-owner of a New York wholesale distribution/concentration yard is also reporting a good market that has experienced some slack on demand. 

“I’d say it’s slowed down from a few months ago, the demand,” he said. “It’s manageable. We manage no matter what.”

His company purchases Red and White Oak, Cherry and Hard Maple in 1 Face and Better, No. 1 Common and No. 2 Common, from 4/4 to 8/4. This business sells kiln-dried, rough or S2S product as truckloads or mix truckloads throughout North America to distribution yards and end users. 

“They think the market has peaked,” he said. “I think it’ll slow down just a little bit.” This New York company also sells container loads for export throughout the world. The source said that transportation is “not a problem” at the moment. 

He concluded by saying, “I think the supply and demand are a little more even than what it was.”

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

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

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