Point Clear, AL– The Grand Hotel, located here, recently welcomed approximately 50 members and guests of the Southwestern Hardwood Manufacturers Club (SWHMC) at their annual Christmas meeting.
The highlight of the meeting was Dallin Brooks, executive director of the National Hardwood Lumber Association. According to a SWHMC spokesman, Brooks “spoke to us with a renewed energy and excitement from the NHLA. His vision for the future of the Hardwood industry is not for the faint-hearted. He is all about uniting Hardwood mills to improve product selection, production, market recognition, and efficiency. We are excited and ready for what Dallin Brooks and the NHLA bring to the industry!”
Also at this meeting, the SWHMC formed an Executive Committee made up of all sawmills producing Hardwood lumber. SWHMC was formed in 1917 bringing together Hardwood mills to help organize and sustain the Hardwood industry and that is the reasoning behind forming the Executive Committee. These mills, noted a SWHMC spokesman, will bring about direction for the club in the industry to help sustain the club as well as the industry. A recommendation to increase the annual dues was brought up and by end of last month, SWHMC planned to notify members of the dues for 2023.
The market conditions and current prices are not a secret to anyone in the industry so there were no surprises there in attendees’ comments. A SWHMC representative said everyone had similar comments concerning markets and prices. The strongest segment of the market remains in the cross tie and switch tie sales, and according to tie representatives at the meeting, those needs will remain strong for at least another 12-18 months. For example, a Mississippi tie mill representative said his business has not been as bad as in 2008. They are running four sawmills. The executive director of the Railway Tie Association was in attendance and he echoed the sentiment that the tie business is strong, demand is good and he, too, expects demand to stay solid for the next 12-18 months.
Some reported increased interest and shipments in FAS Red Oak over the past few weeks with prices seeming to find a bottom in the market. A Mississippi attendee said selling Red Oak is “tough sledding” and due to their location, 82 percent of what they cut is Red Oak. On the positive side, his Cypress business is good.
An Alabama sawmill representative said his inventory of logs is in good shape and that he recently shut down his kilns because he had nowhere to put his dry lumber.
A Texas attendee said his facility is operating 40 hours weekly and they had cut Hardwood for years, but now are running about 75 percent pine products (appearance grade) going into the industrial market.
A recent bankruptcy filed in the furniture industry brought on discussion surrounding tie siding generated in mixed wood cross tie production and how that would affect mills.
A Tennessee equipment manufacturer who attended noted that their business has been good and at the time of this meeting, he had a good order file.
Transportation issues seem to have eased a little with a slowdown in the marketplace, making trucks more available, but costs are still relatively high. Labor issues are still a common problem for all companies and remain to be a major concern for everyone.
As in the past, SWHMC hosted the SEC Championship football game following the Roundtable Meeting. David Lammons commented, “I know many attendees were very sad without the Crimson Tide appearing in the championship game! But the Tailgate Party was a lot of fun and many of us enjoyed the fellowship time together. We were joined by some of the kids attending with their parents and they were a lot of fun for all of us.
“Thank you to all who participated in the Christmas meeting and Happy New Year!”
Learn more about this organization at www.swhmc.com.