June 2016 – Lumber Update

by Paul Rogers,

We saw a reversal of a common trend in May as, typically, when the weather improves so does business. Having enjoyed a rush of business over the previous two months, May sales ebbed for retailers and it was largely attributed to the market digesting the outtake of material. As what has become a constant concern as a restraint for increasing business, the labor pool is still too shallow for our industry: even with jobs lined up and fair weather, many contractors simply cannot tackle the jobs they need to because of a lack of skilled help. As a result, the discussion of current and upcoming business lends a certain fervor to suppliers, as they try to anticipate their needs in the face of market conditions. In our most recent example, a little too much buying occurred. It became evident as May, although a good month for sales, wasn’t quite as good as anticipated: buyers remained on the sidelines for a spell as they worked off of their inventories. Nonetheless, the market didn’t react much as mills had been reducing production amidst the declining market. West Coast production also suffered, as forest fires raged in Fort McMurray, Alberta and an arson-related rail trestle bridge that was a main conduit for a big mill of West Fraser’s was destroyed. These unfortunate incidences helped give East Coast mills some of the sales that they were lacking from East Coast customers. With Memorial Day being the unofficial start of summer and builders across the region working feverishly to meet deadlines and start new projects, June is anticipated to be a strong month for both sales and the market. Being termed a “sneaky market”, pricing is expected to tick upward as replenishing takes forth but to level off by month’s end.

With the pressure of deadlines and lack of skilled labor, who in this industry can afford to have interruptions, especially when they come in the form of bad or defective product? The clear answer is that no one can, especially if you have subcontractors lined up behind you to complete the job, contracts to fulfill and, ultimately, a satisfied client you need to answer to. Anyone who has worked in this industry for any period of time knows all too well that products sometimes do come in wrong, defective or damaged and the interruption to your job can come at a profound cost. We realize this and know that there are situations in which time has run out and you have to make do with what you have, which can ultimately culminate in additional labor expenses and an inferior result, neither of which we ever want you to endure. Quality inspection is a very big part of our Shipping and Receiving departments, and there are countless situations in which we are refusing and quarantining product that we have deemed unsuitable in our yard. Unfortunately, we can’t catch all of them, so we have to rely upon you and your workers to carefully inspect the product prior to installation and/or finishing: it is at this point that, if you notice anything that looks amiss, to contact us immediately so that we can fix the problem. We can assure you that these situations get top priority and will not be ignored. We will literally drop everything in order to address the issue immediately and will act to replace or correct the product. Our ultimate goal is for your job to go as smoothly as possible, without any issues, delivering perfect product on time and in full. But, in the event that something arises, know that we are still here for you, to keep you going with as little interruption as possible and to deliver upon your 100% satisfaction.

The percentage of issues that we come across are seemingly in direct proportion to the level of business we have: the more business we have, the more problems that seem to arise. However, even at our busiest times, we take our matters very seriously and, ultimately, use them as learning experiences for both us and our suppliers. As we swing in to June, we hope that you are enjoying your level of business and are able to have some peace of mind in knowing that we’ve got your back on the products that you buy from us. Should you have any questions or concerns about your products, please contact your Shepley rep and, on behalf of all of us, thank you for your business!


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