SWHMC Meeting Attendees Share Insights About Market Conditions

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The Southwestern Hardwood Manufacturers Club (SWHMC) Christmas meeting at The Grand Hotel, Point Clear, AL, was reported as a great meeting despite seasonal rainfall. Attendance was good. The roundtable discussion was informative as well. Generally, attendees reported that sales are down overall and log supplies are really good for the most part. Cross tie and switch tie production is still the primary focus right now with a hope that there will be greater demand for grade lumber soon.

As a reminder, SWHMC annual dues renew in January and will remain at $1,000 per year. If you need an invoice for your dues, please let SWHMC know. SWHMC’s website was due to be updated by the time this issue of National Hardwood Magazine was published, so attendees could make dues payments via credit card on the website.

SWHMC leadership is also working on a meeting possibly at Mississippi State University in Starkville and announced that they will get info out on that meeting as soon as the plans can be completed.

To follow are comments from the Christmas meeting discussion:

Mill and Lumber Market Information:

Robinson Lumber Co.:

Asian sales are down and Europe is in a recession. Domestic sales are comparatively good with high end, wide flooring moving well. Low end narrow flooring is very slow. Anticipating an erratic lumber market ahead during the election year, Wesley Robinson is in the process of implementing a “Wood Is Good” promotion featuring pictures and videos of Hardwood lumber and projects as well as interviews with lumber industry leaders. This is in the developmental stage and you will probably begin to see some of Wesley’s work in future months.

Buchanan Hardwoods:

Due to the weather, we have too many logs. Due to the market, too much lumber inventory and too much flooring inventory. Residuals are fast becoming a problem. We need relief!

Netterville Lumber:

Sawing a lot of ties! Also have about 4 million feet of Cypress and Ash logs because it has been so dry. Swamps are dry, making logging them too easy! All the lowland species are plentiful!! Sawing a lot of 8/4 Ash.

All-Star Forest Products:

Diversification is helping us. Millwork business is slowing but margins are really good. Lumber and plywood seem to have slowed down, but still there’s some activity. The election is going to have an impact for sure.

Board road into Canada has picked up some, but domestic has slowed down. It’s still moving some, but not at the volumes we have seen earlier in the year. Frame stock has slowed down considerably and still not much demand for Oak frame. There is still demand for specialty products. The Cypress market is really good right now with upward pushes on prices.

Rutland Lumber:

Sawmill has plenty of logs and the mill is running good. Export sales and domestic sales have slowed down. Labor is still a problem. Mats have slowed down.

Deepwell Energy and Forestry:

Mats are slow. We’re struggling to move Gum and Poplar. The markets are just not taking much at the moment.

Marietta Wood Supply:

We have been running four mills with 10-12 weeks of logs on hand. Three mills are on ties and two are on Poplar. We are still building on the new mill and hope to get it finished soon.

Kitchens Lumber Co.:

Plenty of logs! Still dealing with labor problems and no one wants to work.

Barefoot Lumber Co.:

Pallet and crating production is down. Business is down overall but is okay. The industry is going through changes.

Koppers Co.:

Demand for ties and switch ties for 2024 will remain the same since the demand is for regular maintenance that goes on each year. Prices have been stable for 2023, with prices being flat right now. The holiday schedule will slow inbound ties to treating plants which will have a negative effect on mills. Regular production is expected after January 1.

Somerville Tie:

2023 was good for Somerville and expectations for the same in 2024.

Other Information:

Mississippi State University:

MSU is working on Crane Mat Standards based on NELMA Rules. This will be a process to establish and to implement since there are so many differing ideas and opinions in the matting industry. Presently there are not many guidelines and practically no means of enforcement of any traditional standards.

USNR:

This company has new innovations coming to optimize production and increase efficiency in the sawmill and remanufacture industries. Auto-graders have made a lot of headway and are beginning to make a difference for some of the first mills who have installed them. Also saw management and optimization technology is lengthening the life of both band and circle saws. We are trying to arrange a presentation of some of the technology for the Crawfish Boil in April. Watch for more info on this to come.

Pierce Construction:

It seems that mills producing industrial products are doing better than grade mills right now in Appalachia and the South. Sawmill construction and remodeling is still good and Pierce is still booked out 24-36 months. There are a lot more mills looking at diversification of their production capabilities.

Corley Mfg.:

Still busy and booked out 24 months on steel. Controls are out 6 months or so. Still a lot of interest in making mills more efficient.

Learn more at www.swhmc.com.

By Terry Miller

Terry Miller President Miller Wood Trade Publications

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