We had a great start to the year in our area and didn’t lose much momentum as January came to an end, despite a series of storms. We can thank Mother Nature for being so kind to us for that! In other areas, successive snow and ice storms have squashed a lot of business that would have been otherwise realized if the weather was as kind to them as it has been to us.
Nonetheless, there is a consistent, optimistic, and aggressive tone towards upcoming business as most suppliers continue to report great news from the field in which building and remodeling are coming in strong. Although some lumber pundits are surmising that current business may be eating into spring sales, potentially softening mortgage rates and a renewed attitude from consumers toward home-buying and remodeling seems to be gearing up to make spring 2024 a good season as well. On the whole, lumber prices have held firm in recent weeks although weather-related delays have put a strain on some readily available stock. As of print, there has been some upward movement caused by outages created by these transportation issues, but not to any extent that has alarmed lumber buyers…yet. Because sales have been good, most dealers bought with a heavy hand last month and are better situated with inventory than they normally would be this time of year, putting them in a more favorable position to “ride out the storms.” Nonetheless, whatever moderate increases that are currently being realized are not driven by demand so much as supply as rough weather has made it difficult for railcars and flatbeds to make it out of reloads and mills. A symptom of the season, it will likely continue to affect lumber prices until we clear off the pattern but, for February, we anticipate that prices will continue to be firm with the potential to moderately ratchet upwards as we progress through the month.
Spring is just a little more than six weeks away and, unless you are one of the lucky few that can break out of New England for warmer climes to rejuvenate for a spell, the winters here can be long and boring, especially by the time that February rolls around. Weather interruptions can be a real headache, and if you are sitting out a current storm or waiting for job site conditions to improve, it is a great time to take advantage of the cold and short days to catch up on some often-needed product education. Although it is popular to take in local presentations that are hosted by organizations in our trade, on-line webinars, or training videos (shouting out to YouTube, in particular) are great ways to make use of your valuable time, too. For in-person opportunities, our trade likes to call this time of year “Show Season”, as it’s ideal to pull in contractors, architects and designers for product-based educational shows or presentations that are designed to help educate, inform, remind and inspire those in the trades who handle these products, day in and day out. As most spotlight product advancements (or offer refreshers to products that you may already be familiar with), it is important to take the time to keep up to speed with changes and general trends as they can have a profound impact on your project. Inevitably, there is always a “take-away” from something you see or hear that makes your time away from the jobsite worthwhile. As mentioned, we host our own educational seminars, and we are starting this year off with our Shepley and Andersen Training Dinners (February 8th in Falmouth, February 13th in Eastham and February 15th in Hyannis). As an added bonus to attending these particular Shepley-sponsored events, you can earn, free of charge, (2) CSL (Construction Supervisor License) credits, which is a huge incentive! We also encourage you to attend the regional shows as well, such as the Journal of Light Construction Show (JLC Live, Rhode Island Convention Center, Providence, RI (occurring in March)), which is always a big hit. These are great opportunities to learn more about the industry, its products and suppliers in addition to being able to network with other building material professionals. If you are interested in attending either of these educational opportunities, click this link to register.
In lieu of attending in person, our industry has also done a spectacular job in making readily available training on YouTube or on their websites to get up to speed on the latest for installation, finishing, care, and maintenance. As sometimes the travel to venues and fighting the crowds can eat up more time than you wish, watching videos on-line or signing up for webinars can really be a great solution for personal tutorials. In particular, Huber Engineered Woods (for Advantech and Zip at www.huberwood.com), Azek Exterior Trim (at www.Azekexteriors.com), Certainteed Roofing and Velux Skylights all have great videos available on their websites and/or on YouTube. Incidentally, we have some exceptional videos of our own! Titled the “Shepley Minute,” you can enjoy a sixty-second tutorial by Shepley salespeople and local manufacturer representatives on the product du jour. Concise, informative, and often entertaining, these are well worth a minute of your time. Simply search “Shepley Wood Products” on our website or on YouTube and you will be able to quickly access the library we have built. In addition to these, take the time to search other popular manufacturing brands and you may be surprised to see how deep these tutorials and/or comprehensive manuals and literature go. There is a tremendous amount of very important information that we must know in order to do our jobs correctly and efficiently, and the constant changes in our industry can make it a tough challenge. However, an old Chinese proverb states that “learning is like rowing upstream: not to advance is to drop back,” and it is certainly true. Please consider spending some time to “take in” these educational opportunities as the “take-away’s” are often surprisingly good.
As mentioned, this year is off to a great start, despite the occasional weather interruption. The good news is that we are close to the end of the season and are now focusing on our upcoming business for spring, which looks very promising. Please remember to use our deep bench of resources for your upcoming needs: from Estimating to Interior Trim, we are ready to serve! Thank you for your business.
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