Southeast Business Trends – September 2022

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Reports of slow sales for Red Oak and increased fuel prices are indicators of slower business in the Southeast.

In Georgia, a sawmill salesman made his prediction of a lumber shortage amid negative effects from fuel prices.

“Fuel is having a negative effect, as I own my own trucks, but I think I’d make a prediction. The way trends are going, the way the economy is going, there’ll be a lumber shortage in six months.”

He sells Red and White Oak and Poplar, with White Oak currently selling the best. He cuts it in 4/4 and 8/4 selling primarily to end-use manufacturers and distribution yards.

A Louisiana Hardwood lumber salesman described a lack of sales for Red Oak.

“We handle Red and White Oak, Ash, Southern Yellow Pine and miscellaneous, which is what we call ‘everything else.’ All of them are moving pretty good except for the Red Oak.”

He sells in thicknesses of 4/4, 5/4, 7/4 and timbers to end users.

He also detailed struggling Red Oak sales due to less buying from China.

“Red Oak in the Common & Better grade lumber is struggling. The ties and timber in Red Oak seem to be moving. We have an order that we’re behind on for ties, switch ties and long ties. Red Oak is the one that’s kind of hit a brick wall here in the last month or so. I sell to probably six or seven different guys on average. I got all but one ‘No.’ This guy was buying it cheap and rolling the dice. If you’re cutting a timber, tie, piece of board road, anything construction related, it seems to move.”

Fuel surcharges are also a challenge for the Louisiana forest products company.

“Everything has a fuel surcharge on it. It’s worse by the week. We have a dedicated company that trucks our lumber out. We just pay them a fuel surcharge.”

One Alabama lumber supplier salesman and president said his quality pallet lumber business can keep up with demand but the market isn’t the same as months prior.

“It’s slightly worse, but still good,” he explained. “We slowed down a little bit from six months ago, but I mean it’s more manageable. Before we were working, killing ourselves. Now, we can take a breather every once and a while, still meeting demand.”

The types of species purchased by the Alabama company has broadened.

“We used to be 100 percent Hardwood. We’re having to use a bunch of green pine now. We still use Hardwoods when we can get it just more green pine now.”

Wood species used in his products are the following: Red and White Oak, Poplar, Hickory, Cherry and Walnut.

He sells to food, chemical, steel, aluminum, automotive businesses among others, but hasn’t heard any negative feedback lately. He remains focused on maintaining his transportation line.

“Transportation, supply chain and parts are getting harder and harder. We’ve had to cancel a few orders for customers due to they couldn’t get their raw materials in. Just soon as they come in, then they order again.”

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

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

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