Northeast Business Trends

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Across the Northeast region there are mixed opinions, at the time of this writing, on how the market is going with some sources saying that the weather is making it hard for them to get logs and others saying that their sales are doing pretty well.

In Pennsylvania a sawmill representative said, “There is very little log supply right now. It’s the worst I’ve seen in sometime. Everything is too wet. It’s going to further hamper log supply.”

He remarked that it was hard to tell if his company’s sales were doing better than they were six months ago. “The market was in a free fall. I think things have stabilized some, but I don’t think we are going to get back to where we were, at least there is more movement of the lumber,” he continued.

His company handles Ash, Cherry, Red Oak, Hard and Soft Maple, Hickory and Poplar in grades FAS and No. 1 Common in thicknesses of 4/4-8/4. “Nothing is selling better than the other, everything is pretty randomized. If you have the right items when the customer is looking for it, you’ll sell it,” he noted.

He said that his company sells to distributors, millwork and cabinet manufacturers. When he has talked to his customers the cabinet manufacturers say that they have been slow and that they will continue to have some struggles until the interest rates come down.

“Transportation has always been a rather large concern, especially finding containers for export and equipment,” he said. He did mention that there are more trucks and rail freight available right now.

Another sawmill representative in Pennsylvania said that his sales seem to be so-so. “The domestic lumber market is slow. China is looking ok for us though,” he noted, mentioning that sales are doing better than they were six months ago.

His sawmill handles Red and White Oak, Hard and Soft Maple, Cherry and Ash in grades No. 3 Common and Better in thicknesses of 4/4 and some 5/4. He said his best-selling specie is Red Oak.

He sells to distribution yards, cabinet, flooring and moulding manufacturers. “They basically share the same thoughts on the market as we do, it’s slow. It’s ok but not great,” he said.

He said that they are doing ok with labor and transportation as of now, but they have been issues before.
In Maryland a lumber spokesperson said that their sales have been fairly strong. “Sales are slightly worse than they were six months ago, but we were doing really well six months ago,” he remarked, adding that they were still way ahead of where they were pre-covid.

His company handles Oak and Poplar, cutting very little grade lumber as most of which goes to the pallet industry.

When it comes to labor, he said that they have problems keeping new people on for more than six months, saying, “They just can’t seem to get it through their heads that if they stick it out six months, they won’t be on the bottom anymore.”

When a lumberman from Massachusetts was asked how his sales were doing, he said, “I can’t complain about the market right now.”

He noted that his market is doing two and a half times better than it was six months ago, mentioning that this is due to the fact that one of their customers made an acquisition that has doubled their business.

He said his company handles all hardwood species, dealing with them in the top grades for retail. He noted that his best-selling specie would be White Oak if he had enough of it but since he has run out Ash seems to be selling the best.

He sells to mostly wholesale distributors and some industrial lumber companies. At the time of this writing, he hasn’t heard any comments on how his customers sales are going.

He said that he has been having issues with labor lately, not so much with transportation.

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By Miller Wood Trade Publications

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

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