Across the Northeast region lumber sources indicated that their marketplaces varied at the time of this writing. One source in Massachusetts said that his sales are better than they ever have been, while a source in Pennsylvania noted that their sales depend heavily on the lumber species being sold.
In Maine, a lumber salesman said that his market is soft. “While the Chinese have started to buy again, the domestic markets are still slow,” he noted.
He mentioned that they are doing better than they were six months ago. “The supply has come down and inventories are not what they used to be so customers are having to call around to find what they need,” he continued.
He said that his company offers Red Oak, Hard and Soft Maple, Yellow Birch and Ash in grades Select and Better, Nos. 1, 2 and 3 Common in thicknesses of 4/4 and 5/4. He noted that they also handle cants. “Red Oak is moving the best for us right now, even though we aren’t able to make much money off it,” he said.
His company primarily sells to end use manufacturers and distribution yards. He said that while his customers haven’t directly said how their business is doing, they seem to be doing well based on his lumber sales.
“I think that we still have some headwinds in front of us,” he said. “I think that we are going to see impacts from the rising energy prices over the last quarter of this year and into the first quarter of next.”
A lumber representative in Massachusetts said that their market couldn’t be any better. “We are doing just as well as we were six months ago,” he commented. “We aren’t having any problems what so ever.”
His company handles all New England Hardwoods in all grades and mostly in 4/4 thickness. “We cut our own timber and sell the grade lumber piece by piece to retail lumber yards,” he added. “We take the lower grades and turn them into pallets, selling them to different factories.”
In Pennsylvania, a lumber saleswoman said that while their main species are still moving fairly well, they all differ. “White Oak is our best seller right now and it is hot. Red Oak has really started to improve and Poplar is moving, however the prices for it are stagnant,” she remarked.
She noted that pricing has gone up as volume has decreased. “Volume is down. We’ve had issues with labor and with the heat this summer we weren’t pushing hard to get more volume. So, our air-dried inventory is low and while we have logs coming in we are choosing to keep a low inventory out of necessity,” she said.
She continued to say that they are having issues moving their lower grades which has posed a problem as they aren’t able to produce higher grades without moving the lower.
She said that her company sells to end users such as stair and flooring manufacturers, as well as distribution yards and some exporters. “Sixty percent of our sales used to be exports but that has flipped and we now do more domestic sales than anything,” she added.
When asked how her customers were doing she said that while they seem to be very busy at times, they will suddenly find themselves extremely slow on occasion.