Northeast Business Trends – May 2023

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Throughout the Northeast region sources have said that their sales are better than they have been.

In Maryland a lumber representative said that his sales are continuing to strengthen. “The grade lumber has gotten stronger and there is more demand,” he said. He believes that the shortage of logs in his area is why the demand has grown, causing his sales to be better than they were six months ago.

His company primarily handles Poplar, as well as Red and White Oak and some mixed Hardwoods. They handle these species in Face and Better, No. 3A Common and Better in Oaks and No. 3B and Better in Poplar. They offer these species in 5/4 thickness. They cut timbers out of the mixed Hardwoods, and the side cuts being 1 1/2 inch truck mat material or 5/4 if it’s not truck mat material. At the time of this writing, all of his predominate species are selling well.

His company mainly sells to distribution yards, and a small percentage to exporters. “They have relayed to me that their sales are steady and consistent but their supply is off. Some of these mills have cut back to running only one or two days a week since they can’t get logs or they are cutting something different than grade lumber since they can only get low grade logs out of the woods,” he said.

He noted that his company isn’t having issues with transportation but they are having trouble keeping experienced skilled workers on staff.

A Pennsylvania sawyer said that his company is doing better than they were six months ago but that their sales seem to be relatively flat. “It’s reasonably steady. We aren’t accumulating a lot of inventory but we also aren’t depleting it either,” he mentioned.

His company handles Cherry, Hard and Soft Maple, Red and White Oak and Poplar in grades Prime FAS to No. 3 Common and in thicknesses of 4/4-12/4. He noted that while no one species is selling better, Red Oak and Cherry seem to have improved.

He said that most of their orders are for full truck loads or containers that will be shipped throughout both the North American and world markets, with their customers varying from companies that stock materials, distribution yards, end-use manufacturers and importers. “Most of my customers are saying that their sales are steady at this point. They don’t seem to really be doing better or worse,” he commented.

He mentioned that transportation isn’t difficult to book but that it continues to be expensive. He also noted that labor isn’t difficult to find but that it is hard to find quality employees that are willing to show up consistently.

“We hope that sales improve as the weather improves,” he said.

In Connecticut, a lumber spokesman said that after a tough end to 2022 this year seems to be going back to normal. “Sales are definitely better than they were six months ago. Everyone’s inventories seemed to have whittled away. Not only are our customers short on product but prices are starting to go up so they are trying to get in while the prices are still low,” he said.

His company handles Red and White Oak, Hard and Soft Maple, Cherry and Poplar in all grades and in thicknesses of 4/4-8/4 with some 10/4 and 12/4. “White Oak and Poplar are selling best right now. We have also been selling a decent amount of Hard Maple and some Cherry,” he mentioned.

His company mainly sells to importers and distributors, but also to some end-use manufacturers and traders. He said that his customers have been pleasantly surprised with how well their sales are, as they thought that with inflation being as high as it is their sales would be a lot slower.

He said that over the past six months their issues with transportation have improved and that they have noticed their freight costs have come down considerably.

“We hope that these trends will continue for the rest of the year. I am worried for the summer. We tend to over produce in the summer so I’m worried about what will happen then,” he said.

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

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

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