July Lumber Market Update – The Platinum Tape, a Blog by Kelly Fox

Friends and neighbors,

During this time of year, we typically see increases in lumber and commodity pricing based on several factors.  What we are seeing now is almost beyond belief in the pricing increases.  My hope is not to scare you about why pricing is going up but rather, to educate you on the reasons and to provide some clarity on why we are following the market.

All of us who sell commodity lumber waited all winter long for the current administration to decide what to do with the expired softwood lumber agreement, (the counter veiling duty).  We all got to experience the inflated pricing to protect the mills from the possibility of a retroactive tariff when it was finally announced at 19.88% in late April.  Moving ahead a few more months and the next big run up was caused by a separate issue between the US and Canada and the subsequent anti-dumping duty at 6.87% effective June 30, 2017.

Per Investopedia, an anti-dumping duty is a protectionist tariff that a domestic government imposes on imports that it believes are priced below fair market value. Dumping is a process where a company exports a product at a price lower than the price it normally charges on its own home market.

Nearly all the lumber we sell at our stores is domestically produced and not subject to the tariffs and duties.  Unfortunately, the panels and cedar products are imported so the combined tariff means higher prices.  The additional duties put pressure on the domestic supply and tend to dry it up quickly as the volume buyers and traders look for the best deal.  Once that supply is gone, and it is now, the domestic producers raise prices based on limited supply with a very strong demand.

Further adding to the limited supply issue and the role of import lumber in keeping prices stabilized is the threat of fire in the Provincial forests in Canada that is keeping logging at a minimum.  We also had a mill fire that took an OSB mill out of commission along with normally scheduled summer maintenance at some mills.  (Some suppliers we talk to think the fire threat is gamesmanship being played based on the CVD/ADD from the US.)

The real estate market around the country is very strong with very little inventory so builders are experiencing a boom when they have the labor to get the work done.

Our guess is that the market remains strong with higher than normal pricing through the building season with prices holding in the weeks ahead.  If the rumors are true about a new ten-year softwood lumber agreement, we could see pricing stabilize with some market correction before the end of the season.

If you have any questions about the lumber market or would like to know more, please contact me at kellyf@lumbertradersinc.com or follow our blog.

Thanks,

Kelly

Countervailing Duty on Canadian Softwood – The Platinum Tape, a blog by Kelly Fox

Friends and Neighbors,

After months of speculation, it finally happened, the Trump administration announced that the countervailing duty on Canadian softwood would be set at 19.88%.  If this was the end of it, we could let the smoke clear and start anew in the weeks and months ahead.  Unfortunately, this is not the case so we have a long protracted fight on our hands that will keep the consumer doing what they always do, pay the higher price.  Let us look at what we do know and what we can expect.

Through the regulatory process and our part of the NAFTA agreement, both sides will get the opportunity to state their case in an appeals process.  The final ruling on this issues is not expected until sometime in January 2018.  If history is a good teacher on these issues, the Canadians have almost always won the argument.  Now that we know the fight is a long way from over, let us get down to the more immediate impact on our community.

The first thing I looked following the announcement this morning were the currency markets.  As expected, the Canadian dollar declined.  In a part of the country that depends on Canadian tourism to support our local economy, the weak dollar does not help.  Seeing the restaurants full and the Black Ball moving at capacity is good for all of us that call Clallam County home.  At the end of the day, our business is only as strong as the local economy and every part helps.

The second thing I looked at this morning was the lumber markets to see what was happening.  Surprisingly, everything has remained fairly calm with very little commotion in price files. Of greater concern to us, the impact of this announcement on supply has yet to be fully felt.  We know that we are running into shortage issues in the current market.

If any big producers decide to take drastic action, like not selling into the US market it could leave us very short on supply.  We are conducting a survey to find out how you would like us to respond in the event supply of the #2 & Better Premium we currently offer becomes unavailable.  If you would like to help us, please click here.

The last thing I did this morning was grab the phone and ask for input from our buyers, our supplier partners, and our network.  I learned that most everyone is in the same position as we are with more questions than answers.  That consensus opinion is to not take speculative positions on excess inventory in the near term.

We will follow the market and replace what we sell and try to maintain our business to be nimble with the market.  This will keep our pricing current and eliminate the potential for big profits and big losses.  With that position, we will be relying heavily on our buyers to ensure that we are refilling our stock more frequently in addition to our vendor managed programs.

Like everything in life, the dust will settle on this issue.  When it does, we will be here taking care of our friends and neighbors just as we have been for 111 years.  As always, if you have any questions or concerns about the market; we are here to help.  Please follow our blog or friend us on Facebook for updates as they become available.  I can also be reached via email at kellyf@lumbertradersinc.com or in the store @ 360-452-8933 for more pressing concerns.

Thanks,

Kelly

April Market Update – The Platinum Tape, a blog by Kelly Fox

Friends and Neighbors,

As I follow the commodity markets and report back to you in terms of our current pricing, I think it is important for you to also see where the markets are headed along with what is driving the changes.  Right now, the biggest two factors in lumber pricing are increasing demand and the unknown regarding the countervailing duty on softwood imports from Canada.

Let us address the supply and demand issues first because they are much easier to understand and they indicate some other changes in the market that must be addressed as part of the overall cost of building in the current market.  With home building booming in the major metro areas around the United States, mill level order files are pushed out for weeks, and months in some cases, allowing the mills to charge more for the same product.  The more common the item, like OSB and CDX, the longer the order files are out giving the mills the power to hold pricing higher for a longer period.   With good weather now returning to much of the country, the big users like California are starting to add pressure which will also allow the mills to maintain price and more likely, increase it in the weeks ahead.

The commodity chart shows how our pricing has changed for 2017.  It is important to note that some market dips are indicated, most of those are weather related locally and nationally with the overall trend showing pricing increases in all lines.  Beginning this week, we will keep this commodity pricing chart updated on our website along with the commodity price list for quick reference into what is happening in the markets along with showing overall market trends.

The next logical question about the supply demand equation is what, if anything, is happening to slow the prices down.  Unfortunately, the answer to that question is an expensive one.  With the material cost for a house being about 20% of the total cost, labor makes up the next 60% with the balance being given to the state and local economy in taxes and fees related to building process.  A recent trade publication for the lumber and building materials industry indicates that it is taking almost twice as long to build a house now because of the labor shortage for sub-contractors in every trade from the pre-recession levels.  This labor shortage is leading to large increases in cost for the available labor.  The shortage of labor means that demand has not peaked and is likely to remain strong for the foreseeable future.  It also means that customers will be trading higher lumber prices for higher labor costs.

Right now, the market is speculating wildly on what will be passed down as the tariff on softwood lumber in the form of the countervailing duty.  The market is also concerned, and rightfully so, about the likelihood of the tariff being applied to orders going back up to ninety days.  The fear of the unknown is pushing markets higher to make sure that all bets are covered on a worst-case scenario and for that we are all paying the higher price.

What we do not know about the duty is how it will affect commodities at different price levels because the threshold has been poorly defined.  Items like cedar and finish lumber that trade at higher per thousand pricing will undoubtedly feel the effects.  Items like OSB and 2×4 should not be affected as much because they generally trade below what is believed to be the price threshold.  Without knowing where it will land, everything is subject to pricing increase to make sure the mill level profits are protected.

These insights are based on information I gather from our supply partners and industry connections on a weekly basis.  Please stay tuned to this blog, our website, and our social channels for updated information as it becomes available.  If you have any questions about what I see in the market or you would like some additional insights, please contact me at kellyf@lumbertradersinc.com or 360.452.8933.

Thanks,

Kelly

March Market Update

Friends and Neighbors,

It looks like the weather on the east coast is having a declining impact on lumber and commodity pricing, especially panels, this week and the early indication is that things should remain stable for the near term.  As I type this, an email from our commodity lumber supplier arrived indicating a mid-week price change with some up and some down further leading to us to believe the order files at the mill level are consistent from week to week for the moment.

As the market stretches, relaxes, and stretches again, our stores are deeply committed to looking for opportunity and ways to help protect our customers.  In December, our team committed to a large quantity of kiln dried cedar decking knowing that large price increase was not only likely, but very real.  This week we took delivery of that decking and that will allow us to provide you with our best possible price AND the quality that we have become known for in our cedar line.  Similar commitments were made at our buying shows in February to make sure we remained competitive in our hardware and soft goods lines.  Our paint specialist at Angeles Millwork and Hartnagels worked with our supplier this week to finalize our spring buy in the exterior stain lines to ensure we can still offer the best price around for our Stain Sale beginning in late May.

Over the next few weeks we will see changes in cedar, rebar, and timbers.  Treated lumber will also be catching up to the framing lumber index in the days and weeks ahead as the manufacturers catch up with the replacement costs.  These increases are on top of already announced increases in fasteners and paint that will hit the retail shelves in early April.

If we had a crystal ball and could tell you exactly what would happen in the next few weeks and months, we would be happy to share!  What we DO know is the weather will change on the east coast, California will start building again soon, and lumber pricing will follow the supply demand curve of the market.  Our bet is that the demand will stay strong and the pricing will follow through the building season without any significant correction until this fall.

To stay informed about the opportunities and challenges in the commodity lumber markets and building materials, please follow this blog or “like” us on Facebook.  To see our weekly commodity hot sheet please click here.  We publish a new hot sheet every Monday unless the markets dictate otherwise.

Thanks,

Kelly Fox, CEO
Lumber Traders Inc.
Angeles Millwork & Lumber Co.
Hartnagel Building Supply

The Continuing Rise of Lumber Commodity Markets

Friends and Neighbors,

As expected the commodity markets are continuing to rise.  The good news is that the rather than seeing continued double digit growth, the rates have slowed considerably in the panel markets for things like OSB and CDX.  While we do not expect them to take any more drastic jumps in the short term, they will most likely hold this price as the supply demand curve finds a new balance point.

The heavy movers this week are framing lumber, cedar and primed fascia with some products moving up more than 17%.  Again, based on our inventory position and the market, we will try and absorb some of the changes in hopes that we can ride out the bump.  Some lines that are manufactured will likely hold their increases long term so we must adjust our pricing to match right away.

This week we have also taken additional steps to protect our customer base in the market.  We have specifically addressed our purchasing habits for many of our lines to look for opportunity to make sure we can protect the price quotes we have submitted and to make sure we can be competitive in the future.  While we still cannot honor quotes much more than a week out, we will continue to look at any opportunity in front of us.

I am happy to report that while the steel markets for rebar and fasteners moved up, we were able to lower our cost compared to the replacement market and consequently our retail selling price on rebar.  We have also looked into the composite decking market and taken a stocking position in the TimberTech line that will allow us to sell at much lower retail pricing than we have in the past, typically about 10% less.

On the horizon, we have heard from many of our other suppliers about modest increases in very specific lines into late March and early April.  These include some of our roofing products at Hartnagels and fasteners between both stores.

To stay in the loop on upcoming market changes, please follow us on Facebook or subscribe to my blog in the upper right hand side of this post and we will do everything we can to keep you informed about building products, pricing, and information related to construction right here on the North Olympic Peninsula. See newest pricing HERE.

Thanks,

Kelly

Volatile Lumber Trading and the Affect on Lumber Pricing

Friends and Neighbors,

Lumber trading right now is extremely volatile with no end in sight per many of our supplier partners.  The cause of the spike in the lumber prices is related to increased demand around the country and uncertainty related to the expired softwood lumber agreement.

With the market growth and the tariff looming, dealers like us are taking on inventory positions that are pushing out order files at the mill level for many months so that we can make sure to cover our customers in the peak season.  The tariff is aimed at balancing the pricing between US and Canadian producers that will most likely result is a retroactive tax on the Canadian goods.  This has caused the producers to collect the money upfront to protect themselves when, not if, it is imposed.  The struggle right now is no one knows what the amount will be so most mills and suppliers are collecting at the worst-case rate.

Since the beginning of the year, our stores have seen our cedar prices grow by more than 40%.  Since the beginning of February, we have seen our lumber commodity prices increase by 20-25% with some seeing 35%+.  Because we cannot sell our inventory at current market pricing and still make the profits our business needs to survive, we are selling at our replacement cost.  We expect treated lumber to follow the commodity markets up at about the same rates in the next few days.

One way we continue to look out for our customers is to look at our inventory position and the price increases to see if we can cover ourselves week to week without passing on the full weight of our cost increases.  The down side to this is that we cannot honor our quoted prices beyond one week.

Thank you for your understanding, we are here to help in any way that we can.  If you have any questions about the market or need some clarification about a specific segment, please shoot me an email or talk with your sales person.  We will continue to watch the prices and adjust up and down as the market dictates along with keeping all of you posted with our weekly lumber commodity hot sheet updates.  If you would like to be added to the email list for the Lumber Commodity Hot Sheets please email Josh Bergesen at joshb@lumbertradersinc.com .  You can always find the newest lumber commodity pricing on our Blog page, through Facebook and on our Twitter feed.

Thank you for placing your trust in us and we all look forward to serving you in 2017 and beyond.

Thanks,

Kelly

The Next Hundred Years.

Invite and Newsletter post headerReflecting back on a 110 years of history has been a great deal of fun for me.  I looked back at the changes in our community, our business and our industry.  I see the celebration of the good times and I cherish the kind words and the people that made our business what it has become.  As I have read through stacks of notes of gratitude for supporting a particular community project or thoughtful comments about the great service by one of our employees, I was filled with hope for the next hundred years.

I was asked to share with you what I think the future looks like from our perspective and quite frankly, I am really not sure.  What I can predict with confidence is our future is going to be uniquely about you!

The product demands of our customers are constantly changing with the newest trends shown on websites like Pinterest and Houzz (two things that did not exist ten years ago.)  YouTube and Vimeo have given many of us the courage to rebuild our own deck or tile our bathrooms and the digital exchange of funds has allowed for a more expedited buying experience done on the customer’s time.

In many cases, homeowners ourselves, we share your passion for living in and improving the space around us.  We will continue to stay on top of the latest trends and common practices in building and home improvement on our website. We will soon provide you with the ease of online buying and ordering of products and services so that you can spend your time on the jobsite or with your family.  While all this is great, the most important factor that has not changed in the last hundred years, and will not change in the next hundred years, is direct human interaction. The one on one exchange of ideas and solutions between the community and our stores will continue to be nurtured as we walk with you down the store aisles, providing the service and the advice you can trust where an ever expanding sea of information exists.

The local knowledge with neighbors helping neighbors will remain the cornerstone of our business for years to come.  Whatever your source of inspiration for the next hundred years, I am confident that the team of employee owners at Angeles Millwork and Lumber Co. and Hartnagel Building Supply will be right there to help.

Thank you for being a part of our rich history in Port Angeles, we look forward to the next hundred years of serving you and your successive generations.

Did you read the post about Angeles Millwork & Lumber Co’s 110 year history?  Read it HERE.

Be sure and join us in celebration of 110 years in business with a BBQ, vendor displays, games and prizes on Thursday,  August 25th at Angeles Millwork & Lumber Co.!  More information HERE.

Kelly-Fox-ImageKelly Fox, CEO
Lumber Traders Inc.
Angeles Millwork & Lumber Co.
Hartnagel Building Supply

 

 

Friends of Scouting Breakfast

Friends and Neighbors,

For well over a hundred years Boy Scouting has been helping shape the future leaders of our country and our community.  The Olympic Peninsula has a very rich history of scouting and a great backyard to learn some very wonderful life skills.  To make the most of the opportunities in scouting, many of our youth need help and that is where you come in.  On Wednesday, June 1st at 7 a.m. at the Vern Burton Center, the Mt Olympus District will be hosting their annual Friends of Scouting Breakfast where you can come learn about what the scouts are doing, how they are growing, and why scouting benefits all of us on the Olympic Peninsula.

Growing up in scouting, I know that many of the life lessons I use today came from that upbringing.  I also know that without the generous support of the community both in scouting and not, I would not have been able to participate given my family circumstances.  In 1993, I earned the rank of Eagle Scout because the community believed in me and I learned to believe in myself through the successful completion of my Eagle Scout project and twenty one merit badges along the way.  I am asking you to please join me for the Friends of Scouting Breakfast.

To learn more please click at Friends of Scouting or to RSVP, please contact me at (360) 452-8933 or via email at kellyf@lumbertradersinc.com.  I am looking forward to sharing with you the power of scouting!

Kelly-Fox-ImageYours Truly,

Kelly Fox – CEO Lumber Traders Inc
Eagle Scout Troop 401 Auburn WA

Upcoming Washington State Building Code Changes

Wood framing of a house with street sign saying Changes ahead, building codes with Washinton State and Clallum County.

SBCCFriends and Neighbors,

As some of you are well aware, in June there are significant changes to the building and energy codes.

If you are thinking that building codes do not apply to me or that my small weekend project does not really need a building permit, you might be right. More than likely though you would be wrong.

As a general rule of thumb, if you are changing the structure of your home by moving walls and adding square footage, adding value to your property with a new deck, or building a large shed or garage you will need a building permit.  The links below will help you identify what is changing and why, so that you can make the best choice for the value of your home or property.

Scheduled Training through WSU

Scheduled Training through BIAW

2015 Washington State Energy Code

2015 Building Code

2015 Residential Code

2015 Fire Code

2015 Mechanical Code

2015 Plumbing Code

For many of us the single largest investment that we will ever make is in our home. Building without a permit or not following the building code can compromise the structure and the return on your investment.  Whether you are building a new home or fixing up your existing one, knowing when you need a permit and how to make sure that the work being done meets the current building codes will go a long way to helping you live in a safe and comfortable home.  Remember that the fine folks at the local and county building departments are there to help and guide you through the process or steer you to a professional when needed.

Kelly-Fox-ImageKelly Fox
CEO Lumber Traders Inc.
Angeles Millwork& Lumber Co.
Hartnagel Building Supply

Two Stores and a Simple Vision – The Platinum Tape, a blog by Kelly Fox

We have begun rolling out new logos for both our stores in the hopes to visually unify our brand.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]A logo that is recognizable and represents the community is important to us and our customers.[/pullquote]

Each logo although appearing similar will be specific to each, Angeles Millwork & Lumber Co. and Hartnagel Building Supply.  There will be no more confusion of who Lumber Traders is or was. We are still and always have been just your friendly home town lumber yards doing business the way we have for almost 110 years.

New-Logos

The saw blade in our new logo represents our heritage as Angeles Millwork, the board represents our tie to the building materials industry at Hartnagel Building Supply, and Mt Olympus represents the place we all call home, the Olympic Peninsula.  We are very proud of these three things!

signage

The re-branding also gave us the opportunity to clean up the look and feel of the inside of our stores, our website, and message to the community.  When you stop by the stores next time I hope you take notice of the new aisle markers that will make our stores much easier to shop.  When you need information on an upcoming building project or want to know what is happening with us, I think you will enjoy the added content on our website featuring our great team of employee owners in action.

 

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Whether you are loyal to one store or shop at both, we are grateful for your business and thank you for shopping locally.  When you see our logo or shop our stores, I sincerely hope that you feel the same connection to it that we feel to our community and our customers.[/pullquote]

Kelly-Fox-ImageWarm Regards,

Kelly Fox, CEO
Lumber Traders, INC.
Angeles Millwork & Lumber Co.
Hartnagel Building Supply