Lumber Market Update- May | Shepley Wood Products
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Lumber Market Update- May

As they say, April showers bring May flowers, but the amount of rain we received in April is best suited for water lilies. The wet weather gave April a slow start and it lacked momentum as May neared, but it ended up finishing stronger than most dealers had anticipated. Framing prices either softened or remained in a holding pattern for most of the month, as demand never superseded supply and supplies remained ample enough to allow some flexibility in the occasional counteroffer. OSB, on the other hand, ramped up hard as there was a sudden influx of sales at the beginning of the month that squeezed supplies and then catapulted pricing. Although there was real demand for OSB that caught mills flat-footed, it was exacerbated by dealers and distributors who poured more orders into the system in order to get out in front of future price increases. As with most rallies, the emotional buying created a crescendo that abruptly ended, but prices never truly reflect the moment so although they are firm and softening, they still have a way to go to come back down to normal levels. Thankfully, our market mostly relies upon CDX panels, but there are a lot of Huber OSB products (Zip and Advantech, primarily) sold on Cape Cod and both were affected. In the meantime, OSB mills are catching up on backlogs and, with the warmer weather approaching, activity is building all around for the rest of the industry. The outlook for May is that it will be a stronger month for sales and optimism is high that it will carry on well into June. As of print (and except for OSB), prices are in a state of flux as trading levels remain to be discovered, but they are expected to at least stabilize and likely rebound as we progress through May.

Acquired skills are talents and expertise that are obtained through education and experience. One of the most esoterically acquired skills that tradespeople can develop is the ability to quickly glance at something and pick out the minutest details that either enhance or detract from the appearance, fit or finish. Most people with the untrained eye often see right through it or not even give it a second thought but, as we have learned from the finest sculptors, the devil is in the details and the details matter, despite how little they appear to be. When it comes to construction, the devil in those details is often brought to life when an anomaly is overlooked or disregarded. As a whole is the sum of its parts, experienced and talented tradespeople know that, when added up during installation, 1/32” here or a chip there can profoundly ruin the outcome of the project. These “sculptors” of homes know the limitations of the media they work with, so oftentimes it can be worked with or around, but other times it cannot. The value of possessing a critical eye is that oftentimes one can just glance at something and know it is not right: it is a developed skill that usually comes from experience, and one that is extremely crucial and valuable to pay attention to, especially before commencing with the work at hand. As the best practice is to inspect the product carefully before proceeding and adjust as necessary to ensure a proper fit and finish, oftentimes the pace and distraction of construction makes that a difficult thing to do. Even more so, workers in development, who haven’t yet acquired the skills to pick up on these anomalies, are often enlisted to start the task and subsequently miss potential issues. Nonetheless, we often hear that a manufacturing flaw or defect was noticed by the installer or one of the crew prior to or during installation, as it “just didn’t look right.” We certainly understand that, with pressure to complete the job in a timely manner, oftentimes contractors go through with the installation anyway. We also understand that the smaller the subtlety, the harder it is to react to it but the lost opportunity in being able to correct it from the onset, setting up for a “one and done” installation, is a true shame: once installed, the issue now becomes one of rectifying the situation, which often involves labor to remove, labor to replace, labor to finish and expense to dispose. As most of us are well-aware of, manufacturers like to boast about their warranties but very, very few offer any compensation for labor or disposal. When the remedy is written for a correction or replacement by a contractor, it most often supersedes the value of the materials, and the gap is always a matter of consternation for everyone involved. In the end, no one walks away feeling good about the situation, as it also interrupts or stops the progression of the current job or the next one. Oftentimes, it all could have been avoided if we just listened to that inner voice, paid attention to the little thing that caught our attention and shared it before going ahead with the installation. Our industry is full of issues like the one described above, and we will never stop seeing situations that arise from manufacturing issues, handling processes or products’ reactions to the environment. However, we ask our employees (and especially anyone who is handling your product) that if they see something that looks askew, to say something: better to nip it at the bud then to bushwhack it back later. We would like to ask the same from you: if you see anything, even the smallest thing that appears to be not quite right, please make a quick call, or send an e-mail or text with a picture to your Shepley salesperson and talk about it. We have many, many years of experience and we can usually quickly determine if there is an issue or not. At the very least, we can get it on record so that if, God forbid, something does run off the rails down the road, we can go back to our suppliers with the notice that it was addressed at the time of installation. After all, no one (not even the greatest sculptors) wants to destroy and redo the work that was born from the blood, sweat and tears of your talent and effort.

Thankfully, this business isn’t all about complaints: most of the time, we have smooth successes and very satisfied customers. Nonetheless, we want to put all our efforts toward avoiding issues rather than addressing and correcting them and we think that we can successfully do it with your help. In our 46 years in business, we have had plenty of experience being advocates for our customers and are grateful to each one who has helped us improve our game. Thank you for your business!