Southeast Business Trends

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Several lumber providers in the Southeast reported the same circumstances in the markets for their products: Demand is high but it’s difficult to produce enough lumber to meet that demand.

A Georgia lumberman, who also has a mill in North Carolina, stated his market is “outstanding.” He added: “We don’t have any logs, we’ve had a lot of rain and we’re sawing about as much yellow pine as we are Hardwood right now. But there’s nothing in the Hardwood business that isn’t moving once you accumulate your loads.”

The market is better for him than it was six months ago.

He manufactures Red and White Oak, Poplar, Ash, Cherry and Soft Maple.

Customers include Hardwood distribution yards and American companies that export. “We don’t export directly ourselves,” he explained. Based on his customers’ orders of lumber, he believes their business is “pretty good.”

“Transportation has been tough for the last several months,” he added. “It’s been hard. We get trucking companies who say they’re coming and then they don’t show up.”

A North Carolina source said his business is “very good,” even though, “supplies are very tight. Everybody’s out of logs for the most part which is helping drive demand because there’s a lack of supply.” 

Asked if his business fared better half of a year ago or now, he replied, “At this moment in time, where we’re at now, is a culmination of everything that’s gone on in the last six months. We’ve kind of got a perfect storm, if you will, right now, as far as lumber pricing and everything.”

He sells mainly to end users. His customers’ businesses are doing well, he said. “They’re projecting that, for the next 90 days, they don’t see any letup.” Products he offers include Red and White Oak and Poplar in all thicknesses and grades.

In the transportation area, he observed that ocean freights and bookings are becoming more problematic.

A leader of a firm in Arkansas said the market is “strong,” and business is better than it was last year. Production consists of Red and White Oak flooring in standard grades. These products are sold to wholesale distributors. “The flooring is in high demand and short supply,” this lumber executive stated. “We’re in as dramatic of a supply and demand differential as we’ve had in 30 years.”

He said the labor force is “the main negative factor. Transportation is not an overtly tough issue.” 

In Virginia, a woman who provides lumber stated, “The market’s fantastic but we can’t get enough production through here to take advantage of it.”

How is the market compared to this time last year? “Better, better, better,” she replied. “But with the labor issue we have, we can’t get everything sawed up and graded. And then we’ve got wet weather, so we can’t get logs in. It’s the perfect storm; that’s what you would call it. That’s why prices are going up because nobody has logs; nobody has help.”

She sells mostly Oak to customers in other countries. “Getting bookings is becoming an issue in exporting the lumber,” she stated. “It’s taking about a month to get a booking.” 

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

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

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By Miller Wood Trade Publications

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

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