Monthly Archives

May 2013

Labor Solutions

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Mike-Dykstra-SmallAs demand increases for housing, there are some supply constraints.  Because there are less manufacturers of building materials and less lumber and OSB mills than 5 years ago, this uptick in demand has created some supply chain challenges.  This has resulted in some increased lead times and price increase pressure.  Our industry is now also seeing some labor constraints.  For the last several years, the construction industry has not been the most attractive industry to enter and few new tradespeople have come into the construction workforce.  This has caused a shortage of qualified tradespeople for jobsite construction, including carpenters.

We have a couple ways to help be part of the solution.  Our Zeeland Contractor Services (ZCS) division was developed to connect qualified labor trades with the general contractor.  Whether it is a framing, roofing, siding, window or cabinet installation, this business unit exists to offer material and labor solutions.  If you have a difficult time getting a portion of the home constructed, call ZCS for a potential solution.  At Zeeland Truss and Components (ZTC), we build roof and floor trusses, and wall panels.  Wall panel construction offers a solution to conventionally jobsite framing by offering a constructed wall panel for easier and more timely installation in the field.  Wall panel construction can save up to half of the field labor.  It is also an efficient, sustainable construction process with less waste in the jobsite dumpster.  We are ready to serve your needs at ZTC with wall panels, and ZCS with labor solutions.

Finding the Bottom

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John-Colley-Final-1024x1024It has been an interesting spring to say the least.  Lumber pricing rose at a rapid pace.  I think all of us were looking for a correction and I don’t think any of us were thinking we would see one this late in the season.  The market had been moving up all spring while market data clearly indicated we have been underbuilding in accordance with historic demand levels.

Housing starts were up 7% through March but the lumber market actually started steadily moving in the other direction since its high in April.  OSB was the first item that started to correct.  Studs and dimensional lumber held on a couple weeks before they started to correct.  Some wide species like Southern Yellow Pine 2×12’s have yet to do anything drastic.

That being said, OSB has started to print flat indicating manufacturers have figured out how much to produce to maintain their price levels.  Studs took a late dip after all the anticipated shortage ‘hoopla’ receded.  Dimensional Lumber has been steadily printing down too.  All the reports I read say they are increasing inventories while anticipating other markets such as China to take production if pricing in the U.S. keeps falling.  Finally, the wide dimensional lumber continues to resist much of the market correction and at this point but will probably weather the storm.

Moving forward we have been trying to replace higher priced inventories with lower cost alternatives.  It appears our strategy is working but we don’t have the luxury of being able to do so at once.  If we ran out of wood we would have a few upset industry partners!  Also, please try to keep something in mind that a wise old lumber trader told me; “you never know when you are at the bottom unless you start to come back up.”  With that in mind we feel we are near the bottom of lumber pricing but haven’t quite seen it yet.  I’m sure you all know what old lumbermen I learned from so please rest assured we will keep working to find that bottom!

Zeeland Lumber & Supply Links – April, 2013

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Many great things are happening in, and around, the building industry.  This month we shared links on patio furniture, preparing your home for sale and decking.  We hope you find the links below just as useful as we did.

How to Improve Your House for Sale – Courtesy of About.com.
Ten Tip for Buying Patio Furniture.
Bob Vila gave us, ‘7 Ways to Avoid Basement Flooding.
‘How to Make your Deck Look Brand New Again’ by Brainiac at eHow.com
Farbral introduces CondenStop to the market.
AOL Real Estate shared the ‘Top 10 Home Improvements That Pay you Back.’
If you’re looking for a design style KraftMaid offers a few ideas.

Weather Matters

By | Homeowner News, Products, Professional Builder News | No Comments

Mike-Dykstra-SmallAs a building material supplier, our most basic function is to serve you, our customer, raw materials for your manufacturing operation. We, along with many other suppliers, provide the inputs into the manufacturing operation, and your output is a new building for the owner. We provide value by specifying the inputs (material take-off), helping design (cabinets, windows, trusses, engineered floors), and providing the right product at the right time (inventory management, supply chain management, safety stock).

One major difference between what we do and what many other manufacturers do is the site. The jobsite is not under roof and it is not climate controlled. It is outdoors and therefore always at risk of inclement weather patterns. We experienced more than normal rainfall, flooding and temperature swings in April of this year. This greatly impacts production at the jobsite and the ability to start a job. The street to Zeeland Truss and Components was flooded and we could not operate for two days. That is small in comparison to the many delays and disruptions on the jobsites due to weather.

So weather matters in our industry. We always knew this, but were reminded again in April. I believe the good news is that many projects were just delayed and will now start in May and June. The weather did soften the market a little in the short term, but the long term factors still remain for a strong 2013.

Thank you for allowing us to serve you materials to your manufacturing operations.