Across the Southeast lumber sources said that their sales have slowed. A North Carolinian lumberman said that his market was slow, at the time of this writing. “Our orders are very slow right now and I don’t see it picking up any time soon. We are doing worse than we were six months ago, and I don’t see any indication that we are going to get better any time soon,” he continued.
His company handles Poplar and White Oak in 4/4 thickness and Pine in 5/4 thickness and all of these species in all grades, separating out the FAS stock widths. “We have started to saw more Pine than hardwoods,” he said. “We have had to step away from Red Oak, but Poplar has continued to do alright for us. Poplar is a staple product of ours that we have always sawn. We do a lot of fixed widths in Poplar, it’s our little niche for moulding and millwork places and distribution yards.”
While he hasn’t heard any comments directly from his customers as to how their sales are doing, he noted that they had a run of 700,000 board feet of Poplar, with about 10 loads of 12 and wider, all of which they were able to sell.
“I’d say that’s good and we got a good price,” he went on.
He mentioned that since they have downsized he has noticed that they are not having the transportation issues that they used to, however, when it comes to labor it’s a different story. “We are having a terrible time with labor, every sawmill in this country has labor issues,” he said.
In Virginia, a sawmill spokeswoman said that her sales haven’t been doing very well. “We are doing worse than we were six months ago,” she said. “It’s the summer months and everyone shuts down overseas. Europe has been down for two months, and China is full.”
Her sawmill handles Red and White Oak, Poplar and Walnut in grades FAS, No. 1 and 2 Common in 4/4 thickness for kiln-dried and thicker for their green stock. She mentioned that White Oak is selling the best for them.
“We sell mostly to export. They haven’t said anything to me about their sales other than they are slow,” she noted when asked about her customers comments on their markets.
She added that they haven’t had any issues with transportation or labor, at the time of this writing.
A lumber representative from Tennessee said that he has noticed his market continues to be extremely ragged, fractured and inconsistent. “Reality is setting in. We were concerned that the market was going to get to this place six months ago and here we are,” he said. “Even if there was a huge drop and slowdown in production, there isn’t enough consumption to correct the supply and demand in the lumber industry right now.”
His company handles all species indigenous to the Appalachian Mountain region in grades FAS, No. 1 and 2 Common and No. 3A in thicknesses of 4/4 through 8/4 and some 10/4 and 12/4. “The majority of what we do is high grade for architectural millwork and custom furnishings,” he said. He also noted that while the thicker the product is the more stability there is in the marketplace, he doesn’t have one specie that is selling better than the others.
His company mainly sells to architectural and moulding firms and distributors who cater to high-end custom commercial or residential products. “I’ve noticed that the higher-end custom work that is done, the less the comments are about how bad the markets are, while standard and common items are feeling more pressure to be produced at nonprofitable levels.”
He went on to say that labor continues to be their number one issue while transportation struggles have eased.