West Coast Business Trends – June 2023

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On the West Coast, sales of Hardwood lumber are not bad, based on recent interviews with lumbermen there.

An Oregon supplier said business is still strong. “We have stayed pretty busy,” he noted. “Businesses in the area here are busy, too.”

Compared to several months ago, the market for his company is better, he stated.

He offers Walnut, White Oak and Maple in 4/4 through 12/4 in higher end grades. Walnut is his best seller, but Elm is popular, too.

He sells his lumber to professional wood workers and end users, including people building high-end furniture or building restaurant or hotel interiors. “Their business is strong as well,” he commented.

Transportation isn’t a problem for him. “We ship our lumber less than truckload,” he said.

In Washington, a lumberman remarked, “Business has been quieting down for about two weeks. It’s been odd all year long. During COVID, the supply of lumber was constrained, so people kept a high lumber inventory in their shops. Now people are holding off buying lumber until they need it. It’s not hard to get lumber now. Higher end lumber is moving better. High-end Walnut and Ripped White Oak are in greater demand. For Walnut, I’m getting more inquiries, and the mill manufacturing our Walnut is doing well. Lumber is moving. Things are not dire.”

However, he said that his business activity is worse than it was a few months earlier.

He sells lumber in all thicknesses, mostly 4/4, in Select and Better, No. 1 Common and No. 2 Common. Species include Hard and Soft Maple, Poplar, Red and White Oak, Beech, Alder, Hickory and “any eastern Hardwoods.” His best sellers, he stated, are Poplar and paint-grade Soft Maple.

His customers include both end users and distribution yards. Cabinet door manufacturers are doing well, he noted, but people making the cabinets are seeing their businesses slow down a lot. He observed that one furniture manufacturer, a big company, went out of business.

On a brighter note, “Transportation is very good right now,” he remarked.

Meanwhile, a California lumber provider stated, “The market is still order-to-order. That’s not a bad thing. Customers expect me to have the inventory here. Customers don’t want to wait. I’m not piling up orders, but I continue to get orders. Orders are not made far out into the future. It’s part of the process. You don’t take it personally.”

He stated that his business activity is “still the same as several months ago. I’m optimistic. Business is still steady.”

He sells Walnut, Hickory and White Oak in FAS, No. 1 Common and No. 2 Common all in 4/4. Walnut is his best seller.

He sells his lumber to both distribution yards and end users. “Their business is spotty, which is order-to-order,” he observed.

“Transportation is not an issue for us,” he said. “Containers are arriving pretty steadily. We get them in seven to 10 days,” he added.

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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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