West Coast Business Trends – March 2023

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When West Coast lumbermen were asked to assess their business activity, they gave a mix of answers at the time of the interviews.

In Oregon, a lumber provider said the market was “the same as it has been recently, still strong.” So, his business activity was “about the same” as it was a few months earlier.

He offers Walnut, White Oak and Maple in 4/4 through 12/4 in higher end grades. Walnut was his best seller.

End users, people building high-end furniture or building out restaurant or hotel interiors, constitute most of his customers. Their business is “still good,” he remarked.

He said he has “no transportation issues currently. The high cost of freight was a shock for our customers initially but now they know to expect expensive, slow and unreliable freight.”

In Washington, a lumber provider remarked, “It’s the same as it has been the last two months. We’re seeing some bright spots here and there but it’s still a little slow. Business is not as good as it was six months ago; that’s for sure.”

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.” Poplar and Soft Maple are his top sellers.

His customers include both end users and distribution yards. Asked how his customers are doing business-wise, he replied, “We’re getting a mixed bag, all over the board, but it’s better news than we had four to six weeks ago. Some companies are singing the blues and others are still plugging along.

“Transportation hasn’t been a factor in the last few months,” he commented. “It would be good if transportation costs went down, but those costs are far from the highs we have seen and transportation is stable right now.”

A California lumberman said his business activity was “still steady. The market is not as busy, but there’s still business there.”

He sells Walnut, Hickory and White Oak in FAS, No. 1 Common and No. 2 Common all in 4/4. “Walnut is moving very well,” he stated.

He sells his lumber to both distribution yards and end users. His customers’ sales dynamics are the same as his are. “It’s order-to-order,” he remarked.

Transportation isn’t a problem for him, he said. It’s been that way for quite some time.

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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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