Southeast Business Trends

Oct Issue

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In the Southeast, the Hardwood lumber markets are strong, but in some cases, a species here or there is slow in selling.

A Virginia lumber provider said, “The market is good. However, Poplar is showing some weakness. Everything’s moving. The problem is getting containers for overseas shipping.”

Asked to compare her market compared to some time ago, she replied, “Anything’s better than it was several months ago. Sales weren’t there, and prices hadn’t come up yet.”

She handles Red and White Oak, which constitute 80 percent of her sales. She also handles some Poplar. Her best seller, she believes, is 4/4 FAS and Better kiln-dried White Oak. She sells her lumber to distribution yards.

“Transportation and labor are problematic,” she stated. “It’s hard to get enough workers. As for transportation, I can’t get a container. But I have no trouble getting trucks. I can get the product to the port I just can’t get a container at the port.”

A sawmill representative in Georgia said his market is good. White Oak and Ash are extremely strong in terms of sales, he noted. Poplar is still strong, he added. But Red Oak has softened “a little bit, only in 4/4 thickness,” he remarked. “Red Oak in 5/4 thickness still seems to be moving along nicely. Also, No. 2 Common is still strong in Red Oak. White Oak is still to the moon, it’s so good.”

Compared to a few months earlier, he said, his market is “about the same.” He said out of all his species of lumber, only Red Oak shows signs of weakness. “But Red Oak is still good. It’s still moving. This week, I sold 20 containers of Red Oak. I think we’re still very fortunate to have the business we have at the prices our lumber is bringing.”

He handles Red and White Oak, Poplar and Ash mainly. This lumber is sold to distribution yards and to other companies that export. He preps the lumber, puts it in containers and takes it to the port for those companies to sell overseas. He also sells to end users.

“Transportation is a problem,” he stated. “Transportation is hard to get. We are good with in-state and local carriers, but out of state, it becomes a problem. Sometimes, when you get a truck lined up with a truck brokerage firm, a driver will change his mind and you don’t get the use of that truck.”

For a flooring manufacturer in Arkansas, the market for his products – which is national – is “superb,” he said. “It’s as good as it’s ever been in the history of the Hardwood flooring market.” His market is even better than it was six months earlier, he stated.

He handles Red and White Oak, Walnut, Maple and Hickory. “White Oak has consistently been stronger than the other species,” he remarked.

He sells his flooring to wholesale distributors. “Their business is robust, also,” he stated.Even with the great market, he faces challenges in his business. The No. 1 problem is finding and keeping employees, he noted. Also, he said, there is a raw material shortage throughout the industry. “Transportation is not overly difficult right now,” he commented. “The trucking business has been good enough that people have made profits, so they have added trucks and drivers. It’s not horrible.” 

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

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

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