Northeast Business Trends – February 2024

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Overall, lumber sources in the Northeast region said that their sales were better than they were six months ago.

A lumberman in Maryland said that aside from White Oak remaining strong and with prices rising, he has noticed that Poplar and Red Oak have gotten harder to move. “Some species are easier to move and some are harder to move than they were six months ago, but all in all, I would say that we are doing better than we were six months ago,” he stated.

He offers Red and White Oak and Poplar, as well as some Gum, Maple, Hickory and Beech in a variety of grades and in 5/4 thickness.

He sells his upper grade lumber to distribution yards, while he sells his lower grade lumber to pallet, mat and crosstie manufacturers. “The distribution yards that I sell to have said that they are having trouble selling Poplar and Red Oak,” he said, noting that there seems to be downward pressure on these species while there is upward pressure on White Oak.

He mentioned that he has noticed a lot of people having issues with maintaining enough log supply throughout the winter months. “You never know how the weather is going to be and what pressures that will put on the supply,” he said.

In Maine a lumber spokesperson said that his sales are doing OK. “We have over a million feet on order, and while it feels horrible it’s not as bad as it seems,” he said, adding that he is doing better than he was six months ago due to his prices going up.

His company offers Red Oak, Hard and Soft Maple, Yellow Birch and Ash in grades Select and Better, Nos. 1, 2 and 3 Common and in thicknesses of 4/4 and 5/4. “Red Oak is selling well; we aren’t making any money with it but it is selling,” he said. “Hard Maple has started to pick up due to lack of supply.”

He sells to flooring, cabinet, moulding and furniture manufacturers, noting that they aren’t doing well and have mentioned to him a continuous decrease in their sales. “Their order files are shrinking, the first quarter of this year is not looking good for them,” he said.

In Pennsylvania a lumber saleswoman said, “We are cutting White Oak and that is selling well and Red Oak has started to pick up a bit, but Poplar and Soft Maple are slow.”

She noted that their business is the same month over month and that they are doing the same as they were six months ago.

Her company offers Red and White Oak, Hard and Soft Maple, Poplar and some Ash. “We are a 5/4 mill and will cut some 4/4. We can cut thicker stock but we don’t dry it,” she said, adding that they handle all grades and dry No. 3 and Better.

She noted that while the stave mills have been buying the White Oak, her company has developed a niche customer base that looks to her company to buy White Oak.

Her company is currently selling to end users and distributors. “We haven’t been able to find the pricing that we are able to get for White Oak in the export market, so we are selling it domestically,” she said. “The niche markets that we serve are booming but it’s not steady.”

She added that she is looking forward to 2024 being a stronger year, noting that it is typical to slow down this time of year but that she should serve the same markets in ‘24 and there should be more volume.

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

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

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