West Coast Business Trends

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West Coast manufacturers and retailers ended 2020 overall on a suprisingly high note given all of the production issues related to COVID-19, ever-present labor issues, and one of the worst fire seasons in memory. At the time of this writing, industry personnel we spoke with are approaching the new year with cautious optimism, the following is what a few West Coast producers had to say:

Dean Garofano of Delta Cedar Specialties, Delta, BC said, “Cedar proved to be a real winner in 2020 across the board from manufacturers all the way through to retailers. If you had it you could sell it, and this phrase will become even more relevant as we make our way in to 2021. The amount of Cedar harvested in British Columbia continues to decline while demand remains high.”  Garofano continued, “Mills have been running hand to mouth on logs driving Cedar log prices to continued all-time highs with recent duty reductions being thrown at log supply. The key for sawmills to repeat their 2020 success this year will be a strong log supply chain and distributors will need to be well aligned with the right manufacturers. Here at Delta Cedar Specialties, demand has been overwhelming with our DC Premium, DC Supreme and DC Superior products selling out quickly. Trying to keep up to sales with log supply has proven difficult with so many manufactures chasing so few logs creating a wild, wild, west environment leading to desperate and extreme forward pricing to secure fiber.” Garofano finished, “With the pandemic still going strong and Cedar log supply fighting to catch up, we will likely see this supply demand imbalance last at least through this spring. Once again, if you have it you can sell it will hold true, but having it will be the difficult part!”

Phil Schumock of Stella-Jones, Tacoma, WA, said, “In the Northwest we are heavily seasonal for our products, so right now demand is off as expected and we are producing to supply for what we expect to be a very strong 2021. The lumber market has stayed firmer than some expected, and we expect little downside going forward. We anticipate more of the same in-regard-to customer mood in 2021. The trend of people staying at home and investing in their yards and not on vacations should continue to drive a robust market for our products.”  Schumock continued, “Weather is always a huge factor with our products, but the pandemic has superseded that as the main driver of demand. Labor was a significant issue in 2020 but our planning for 2021 includes significant investment in people and we expect a much smoother year in that regard. Moving into 2021 with the recent reduction in tariffs we don’t see a significant immediate change but are hopeful that eventually it will enable some of our suppliers to develop more offerings into our market area. 

Eric Ford of Western Lumber Company, Medford, OR remarked, “The balance in most items is ok. Pine items seem to be still be in tight supply, and some of the upper grade specialties are still tight. The customer mood is good. Most people see 2021 as a good opportunity to succeed. Interest rates are low, building seems be strong, and re-model is strong. Log issues are all around burnt timber right now. It has to come out of the woods asap and will lead to lower yields.”  Ford continued, “Labor and transportation are major issues for everyone. I do not see any relief in sight. No real issue, one way or the other with the Canadian duties. 2021 has the potential to be a really solid year. Low interest rates, strong building, and consumer confidence should all create the opportunity for a good year. It will not come with-out it’s challenges, but with hard work, and strong decision making, we are optimistic.” 

By Zach Miller

Editor and fourth generation of the Miller family to work at Miller Wood Trade Publications.

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By Zach Miller

Editor and fourth generation of the Miller family to work at Miller Wood Trade Publications.

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