West Coast Business Trends – July 2024

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Lumber providers across the West Coast region all had similar sentiments as to the health of their sales at the time of this writing.

One source in California said, “While our business isn’t necessarily slow, it seems that our customers aren’t wanting to commit to orders unless they have an order on hand.” He noted that his sales have continued this trend over the past six months and while he said he doesn’t have any complaints, his sales aren’t as great as they have been.

He noted that his company offers White Oak, Walnut and Hickory in all grades and in 4/4 thickness.

He mentioned that he sells to retail lumber yards, architectural and flooring companies. “They’ll have jobs in the process, but it’s a matter of when they close the contract before they commit to an order from us.” He also said that interest rates have continued to hurt his sales, especially when it comes to homes and housing starts.

Another source in California agreed that while his market is slower, it isn’t all that bad. “We are doing just as well as we were six months ago,” he remarked.

His company offers Cherry, Poplar, Hard and Soft Maple, Walnut, Red and White Oak, Hickory, Ash and Basswood, in a variety of thicknesses. “We serve an uppers market, so we don’t bring in much No. 1 Common anymore,” he added.

He noted that White Oak and Walnut are selling well, but he would like to see the trends start to shift away from White Oak as it has become a difficult species to stock.

“We sell mostly to lumber yards and end-use manufacturers,” he added. “I’m always asking my customers how they are doing and from what I have heard the lumber yards continue to be a bit off.”

He mentioned that while he isn’t currently hiring, he has noticed that he struggles to hire for entry level positions.

In Washington a lumber provider said, “We are a little slow frankly. The housing starts are anemic right now, and that is what our business is missing. It also doesn’t seem like a lot of Hardwood is going into the houses that are being built.”

When asked if his sales are better or worse than they were six months ago, he stated that they are about the same. “We are probably just a little short of where we were six months ago.”

His company offers White Oak, Soft Maple and Poplar in upper grades and in thicknesses of 4/4 and 5/4. “We are chasing White Oak, like everyone else. Poplar has been slow and you would think the market would like it to satisfy the cheaper products going into homes because of how cheap it is right now,” he remarked.

He said that while he hasn’t heard any comments as to how his customers sales are doing, at the time of this writing, he can tell that their sales have slowed down due to his company’s overall orders being at about 60 percent of what they normally are.

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

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

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By Miller Wood Trade Publications

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

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