West Coast Business Trends

Share this...

Nyle - NHM - August 2023 Banner Ad 1

Lumbermen on the West Coast recently spoke with nervous intrigue regarding the first quarter of 2024.

At the time of this writing, three sources were slogging through a “sporadic” December that saw many lumber suppliers selling “order-to-order.”

“Customers are concerned (with high interest rates) and everyone’s orders have slowed down,” said a Washington source with 35 years of experience in the business.

“We have been in the black for the last 11 months. December could put us in the red.

“The sales volume is off at least 50 percent from 2022 in December,” he added. “So, this really stands out from previous years.”

When asked what it would take to get business back on track, he said “home loans should be more affordable.

“We go as the interest rates go,” he noted.

A California source said despite a slow fourth quarter that lumber species like White Oak and Poplar are “still doing well.”

However, sales for Aspen and Basswood are “almost nonexistent.”

Noting that White Oak has been “popular for a while,” he said that it “is being used for everything right now, even siding.”

However, even wildly popular lumber species like White Oak can be replaced by engineered wood.

“Hardwoods are not as prominent as they used to be,” he expressed. “We are losing some ground to engineered products, which is a shame. That is just the way of the world these days. We have fought that battle for a long time.

Our company is also into (engineered wood) but (real) wood is still the biggest item we sell. We are losing ground though.”

An Oregon source said he believed that December’s slump was due to the “typical holiday” slowdown. He added that buyers are “only going to get something if they absolutely need it.”

The Washington source, who sells primarily White Oak, Hard Maple and Poplar in Numbers 1 and 2 Common, agreed that much of the issue could be attributed to the winter season and added that the industry was in a “traditional recession.”

“We’ve seen the dips and lulls before,” he added. “This stands out though. It is seasonal and compounded by people being a little nervous about paying too much on logs.

“The first two quarters (of 2023) were great,” he added. “Frankly, that is where we made our money. The last two have just been OK.”

As far as shedding the bark of recession goes, most of the sources remained quietly optimistic about the first quarter of 2024.

“There is pent up demand from the last quarter of 2023,” said the Oregon lumber salesman. “So, the first quarter of 2024 will be pretty good.”

The California source, who sells primarily to professional contractors and custom home builders, said he expects the market to be “slightly flat” during the first quarter of 2024.

He also discussed some of the transportation issues that will be dealt with in time throughout the California market.

“There is a battle going on in California,” he said. “(The local government) wants every vehicle in the state to be electric by 2035. Even on trucks.”

The source’s concern stems from a major investment that his company made recently.

“We invested heavily and bought 80 diesel powered Freightliners,” he said in frustration. “I mean, we don’t have enough electricity to run the houses (in California), so how are we going to plug in these electric vehicles.”

Nyle - NHM - August 2023 Banner Ad 2

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

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

Share This
Related Articles
Import/Export Wood Purchasing News
Miller Wood Trade Publications

Allegheny Wood Products Ceasing Operations

According to MetroNews, The Voice of West Virginia, Allegheny Wood Products (AWP), a 50-year-old West Virginia-based internationally known hardwood producer, closed its doors recently and

Read More »
Import/Export Wood Purchasing News
Miller Wood Trade Publications

Lake States Business Trends

While lumbermen in the Lake States continued to steadily “move wood” through the fourth quarter of 2023, they agreed that “something must change” in order

Read More »
Import/Export Wood Purchasing News
Miller Wood Trade Publications

Northeast Business Trends

Overall, lumber sources in the Northeast region said that their sales were better than they were six months ago. A lumberman in Maryland said that

Read More »
Import/Export Wood Purchasing News
Miller Wood Trade Publications

Southeast Business Trends

Throughout the Southeast region lumber sources agreed that their markets are rather quiet, at the time of this writing. One source noted that while his

Read More »