Despite solid sales and broad optimism that the market would reignite in May, it instead continued to waffle, with spates of increases across lumber and plywood balanced out by equal reductions. The end result was a market that flat-lined for a stretch that hadn’t been seen since well before the pandemic, lending many traders to recall simpler times when volatility wasn’t the rule. Dealers appeared to be content with what they had on hand and on order, only picking off deals that were needed and being cautious not to over-buy as many anticipated that whatever strength seen in the market was purely for modest replenishment and would soon dissipate, eventually leading to a slide in prices. Mills and traders on the other hand, nervous that prices would quickly erode on their ample supplies, aggressively tried to move stock so that they could better regulate the pricing and volume of upcoming order files. One thing that both sides of the table struggled with was that logistics hadn’t improved much. The trucking shortage and spiking diesel prices made securing drivers and rigs as hard (and as expensive) as ever. The only thing that helped in this department was the smaller volume of loads to deliver. June is usually a key month in terms of buying, in that many mills shut down for a few weeks in the summer for vacations and retooling, which leads dealers to buy a little heavy in order to bolster their inventories in preparation of the closures. However, with concerns of an economic slowdown based upon the rising costs of material, transportation, labor, and borrowing, inventories may be a little leaner going in to summer than in most years. As of print, the lumber market is faltering and optimism that it will hold or strengthen is waning as buyers remain conservative, but for how long is the $100k question as business remains brisk and replenishment will be necessary. For June, we anticipate that prices will continue to fluctuate but likely on a downward trend, moderately eroding by month’s end.
Since the start of the pandemic, we have lived in a world full of food, labor, vehicle, home and building material shortages, amongst many other things. But perhaps the biggest shortage we contend with is time. Few and far between is the employed person who isn’t strung out from their job situation and has enough free personal time to recharge before they return to their workdays. Day in and day out, we become physically exhausted trying to get done what needs to get done and mentally exhausted by constantly thinking of our next strategy towards contending with the issues of the day. In the end, the toll it takes is valuable time wasted (not to mention frustration, anger, and stress) as, in our haste and fatigue, we end up having to do things more than once because we rushed through our initial attempt and missed or misconstrued critical data.
Our time is our most valuable commodity, and it can’t be emphasized enough how important it is to unwind for just a bit in order to shut out the white noise, slow down and focus on dealing with what is in front of us first, to the best of its completion and before moving on to the next thing.
As we can’t create any more time than we already have, we can certainly better manage the time that we do have by being present in the moment and dedicating all of our attention to the task at hand. Given that this is much easier said than done but, with practice, it’s well worth the investment as the less any of us have to revisit and redo take-off’s, quotes, orders, sign-offs and deliveries, the more time we create for ourselves. Our industry is complex: it requires all “T”’s to be crossed and all “I’s” to be dotted if we strive to get the job done right the first time. Despite the best intentions, there will always be an element beyond our control that can derail our plans but nonetheless, for what we can control, we owe it to ourselves to get that part right. Tony Shepley has taught us to approach all jobs with a 360 degree point of view by asking the “Who, What, When, Where, Why and How” questions, a simple yet effective practice that helps us gather all necessary information. We encourage you to try using it, as the less time we all spend in person, on the phone or responding to e-mails or texts to re-review is, quite literally, an investment in a commodity that is always short on supply and only increases in value with age: our time.
With the onset of summer, we hope that you are able to break away for a bit and enjoy everything that living and working on Cape Cod has to offer, as it is truly a beautiful and special place that is best appreciated this time of year. We are grateful for the part we play in in the Cape Cod community, but most especially the role we play in your business and sincerely hope that we are providing to you the value that you expect in a building materials supplier. Thank you for your business.