November 2016 – Lumber Update

By Paul Rogers,

October proved to be a solid month, but sales didn’t take the robust stride that was anticipated. Because of the initial soft draw, many buyers opted to remain on the sidelines, only working to cover their immediate needs as inventories were pretty flush across the board. Looming over the market had been the final expiration on October 12th of the Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA), which was in a moratorium since its initial expiration a year ago. The SLA, which enacted a tiered export charge to Canadian producers, was  viewed as a renewed threat this year. Based on speculation of the outcome, it became a selling point for traders to encourage dealers to buy a little heavier on inventory, just in case the market overreacted (which is not unfounded for these situations). Dealers took heed but, as could be expected, the final details of a new agreement weren’t finalized and consequently had little to do with disrupting this market cycle. As a result, inventories were pretty solid across the board and sights were set on moving out current stores and less on replenishing them. The pulse did quicken by month’s end, and November is looking like a strong month. Currently, pricing is firm and is anticipated to remain flat to slightly up as we head toward December.

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 MadWood 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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