While hardwood lumber suppliers on the West Coast report similar activity to the previous month, logistics have notably improved for many. In Oregon, a hardwood lumber supplier said, “We’re involved in many different product lines and activity varies from product line to line. Overall our business is steady. Our customers are spotty.
It runs the gamut. A lot of people are discouraged but there are some signs of good stuff as well.”
When asked which products are moving better than the others he said, “Everything is about the same right now, just steady.”
Looking ahead the contact said he predicts further softening of the market. “The cost of imports has dropped massively over the last six months. But people did not sell off their inventory positions fast enough. That resulted in everyone selling through expensive inventory. Importers, whether it’s lumber or other products, are reluctant to drop prices because they’re still working through older, higher-priced inventory. I think what’s going to happen is at a macro level they are going to bump the rates up despite inflation. In my opinion, we’ll probably push the economy into some sort of recession by our specific industry measurements.”
A California hardwood wholesaler offered, “Our markets are really about the same as the first quarter. Everyone seems to be waiting for the other shoe to drop and it hasn’t yet. Demand has maintained decently all year. Logistics were difficult early on and demand was high and we couldn’t get things but that’s a good thing.” He said his customers that historically have long order files are seeing slow but steady activity. “The architectural millwork companies and lumber yards are not as busy. They don’t have as big of an order file as they used to. They do still have things coming in, but they’re not ordering in advance.”
As for transportation he said, “We ship hardwood products overseas and container rates have come down. The containers that we receive haven’t been waiting to unload for two or three weeks like last year.”
Looking ahead the wholesaler said, “We are really careful about keeping cash on board, careful how we buy and schedule trucks too. We try to make sure we’re not taking on any debt. I don’t know what’s going to happen. We could be headed for a recession is the standby rumor. We’ve been in business for 43 years and we predicted a recession a year ago, but we haven’t seen it yet and we’re hoping we don’t.”
In Idaho a contact said trucking availability has improved greatly. “We have our own trucks and we hire out some as well. Those rates have come down and trucks are more available, which is good.” He said White Oak and Walnut are normally the best moving items for his operation. “White Oak and Rift White Oak have been in demand for a long time. Red Oak is coming back as a dominant species a little bit. Overall Walnut and White Oak are still the best though.” When asked about a six month forecast, he said, “We all ask those questions and the fact is, nobody knows for sure. It depends on what happens in the global economy.”