Lumber Update – November 2018

By Paul Rogers

Despite a steady stream of business, October sales didn’t meet lumber mills’ expectations, resulting in pricing slides that continued to bring numbers back down to more reasonable and realistic levels. With plenty of wood in the market and a respite on the trucking shortage, retailers enjoyed the ability to shop and offer counters, with little urgency or concern over shipping matters (an extreme contrast to a short six months ago). Conversely, there was plenty of urgency to sell off older inventory in order to replenish at market pricing. The ones that were most successful cut their losses early on, generating more business and greater opportunity to replenish but, for the ones who chose to hold fast on their numbers (hoping for a bottom and a rebound), business was a little harder to come by as spreads quickly grew between competitors. As of print, there appears to be a supply and demand equilibrium reached as pricing has stabilized. Business remains steady with little supply interruption, so no significant changes are anticipated for November.

As manufacturers climb over each other to get their products an audience, it can be nothing short of overwhelming in trying to comprehend why one product is better than another. Taking price out of the equation (and going on the premise that all manufacturers need to be competitive in order to sell their product), understanding the differences that seemingly similar products can have can require a much deeper understanding of building materials than one may think. Our conversations regarding country of origin (as a wood fiber source), chemical composition, thermal expansion/contraction and moisture permeability are just a few of the topics we discuss with our suppliers to help us better understand the differences in their products. Many will cock their heads at us, wondering why we even care, but the truth is that these factors (and so many more) truly make a huge difference in the performance of the product. Not to say that there has to be any deep understanding: for instance, you don’t technically need to know how to build a car to sell one. However, knowing what’s under the hood and how it matters to its performance and your satisfaction certainly does matter. To that point, this is what makes us different: we won’t push the product without a full understanding of how it performs and ensuring your satisfaction with “ownership”. So, although many of our products (such as our Madison Wood pressure treated lumber, Bodyguard trim boards and Pau Lope Ipe decking) may appear to be similar in appearance to what you could find in other lumberyards, know that there are differences: subtle, but big differences that make these items the “race cars” of their category.

As we take the approach on all of our products the same way, the items mentioned above are just a handful of ones that we have that are of distinction. It’d be our pleasure to explain to you why we have chosen these products to be our own, so please reach out to your Shepley sales professional and, hopefully, you can take them out for a test drive on your next project. Thank you for your business!

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