Northeast Business Trends

Nov Issue

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Lumber sources in the Northeast region are still reporting a steady domestic market as the cooler season arrives.

One salesman in Maine reported the domestic Hardwood market as “strong,” but the labor shortage continues to slow production rates. “You don’t know who is going to show up each week,” the source said. “There’s zero chance of bumping production up to take advantage of the hot Soft Maple or Yellow Birch markets because we just don’t have the people,” he added.

“The need for lumber is greater than the supply of lumber right now,” the source continued. When asked about the status of upper-grade material, he responded, “I wouldn’t say demand is through the roof, but it’s strong enough and production is off enough to where it’s keeping prices high.”

This supplier produces 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.

This source sells to yards and truckload-quantity end users who reportedly do not have the capacity to take on any new business but are doing well otherwise.

“Trucking will always be a challenge,” he said. “It kind of ebbs and flows depending on what’s going on.”

In Connecticut, the president of one distribution yard also reported a “strong” market with high demand and low supply of domestic Hardwood.

 “It’s pretty steady,” he said. “I mean, supply has been hard to get for the past year.” He described current prices as high, but stabilizing. 

This source handles all domestic Hardwoods, including American Cherry, Ash, Birch, Hickory, Maple, Red Oak, and more. Grades include FAS, Select, Face and Better, No. 1 Common, No. 2 and Better character, KD furniture grade material, 4/4 through 16/4, all stored rough. “Everything is moving right now. Poplar is doing very well,” he explained.

This supplier sells primarily to contractors in the region. Besides having qualms with current prices, this source’s customers are reportedly having more issues with retail lumber yards like Home Depot than with Hardwood suppliers.

“Transportation is very bad,” he reported. “It takes us at least a week or two to get a truck under the trailer.”

A green lumber buyer in New York also reported stabilizing lumber prices. “It seems like they’re starting to level off, but you have to take it a day at a time. It could change that quickly,” he said. Compared to a few months ago, he thinks business is “just as good.”

His company purchases Red and White Oak, Cherry and Hard Maple in 1 Face and Better, No. 1 Common and 2 Common, from 4/4 to 8/4. “White Oak is king,” the source said. “It seems like Cherry and Red Oak are a little down, but they’ve been trending that way for a while.”

This supplier sells kiln-dried, rough or S2S product as truckloads or mix truckloads throughout North America to both distribution yards and end users. 

“We have a pretty loyal set of truckers that work for us, so transportation has been pretty good,” he said. “As you talk to people, you’ll find that the worst part is exporting.”

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

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

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