Monthly Archives

August 2015

Solving the Construction Skilled Labor Shortage

By | Homeowner News, Professional Builder News | No Comments

Mike-Dykstra-SmallThe Construction Workforce Development Alliance of West Michigan (CWDA) was created by the Associated Builders and Contractors Western Michigan Chapter (ABCWM), American Subcontractors Association of Michigan (ASAM), and Home Builders Association of Greater Grand Rapids (HBAGGR). The goal of this alliance is two-fold: to present the construction industry as a smart career choice, and to provide educational opportunities for trade professionals.

Please check out the new CWDA website at

On Wednesday, July 9 at the Pinnacle Center in Hudsonville, from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m., there will be representatives from the CWDA that will be hosting a discussion about solving the skilled labor shortage. This will be a great opportunity to learn more about opportunities for involvement. To register go to I hope to see you there.

Lumber Wane

By | Homeowner News, Products, Projects | No Comments

In recent episode of the ‘At Home Show’ Mark Vanden Bosch sits down with John Colley to discuss lumber and lumber pricing.  In this short video clip, the pair talk about lumber wane and what it means to the end user.

Previous episodes of the ‘At Home Show’ are available for download at

Continual Improvement and Measuring Results

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Mike-Dykstra-SmallOur leadership team has been working on measuring our performance to our customers with one simple metric.  This measurable is the percentage that we are on-time and complete on our product delivery to your jobsite.  We believe this is one key performance indicator that signifies the customer experience.  Our goal is 100%. This aligns with two of our core values: service excellence and integrity.

In the past three months, we have delivered product 92% on-time, and 96% complete.  Our commitment to our customers is in the event we are not on-time or complete, we are communicating this ahead of time so if it is a problem, we can work together for a solution.  Based on the fact that we have thousands of sku’s, over a hundred suppliers, several thousand delivery orders per month, with 250 employees involved, it may be an acceptable percentage, but we continue to look for ways to improve these metrics.  However, we think the real benefit is that we are measuring this and holding ourselves accountable, and that we are focused on continual improvement and the customer experience.

What Causes Icicles

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What causes icicles to form?  On a recent episode of the ‘At Home Show’ Mark sat down with Cormac Smith from Quality Edge.  The pair had a great time discussing all things roofing.  In this short clip Mark and Cormac tackled the question, ‘How to icicles form?’

Hosted by Zeeland Lumber’s Mark Vanden Bosch, ‘The At Home Show’ answers your home improvement questions.  ‘The At Home Show’ airs every Friday at 12:30 p.m. on WHTC 1450AM.

Lumber Pricing August 2014

By | Products, Professional Builder News | No Comments

John-Colley-Final-1024x1024Last month we talked about the spread in pricing between asking levels and futures purchases.  We said at some point the two would come together because there was a relatively large spread. Cash did come down briefly but when the two met they both started rising together.  The uptick wasn’t much of a seasonal surprise, when this happens mills overproduce certain lengths which they tend to move off at a discount.  Pay attention to odd length’s such as 8’s and 14’s to get a better value on lineal if lengths are not critical.

Studs also continued their slow upward trend with the exception of 2x4x104 5/8″ which have been relatively flat.  116 5/8″ studs are becoming much more common which may be one of the factors contributing to the very high 2x4x10 and 2x6x10 asking levels.  We have plenty of 116 5/8″ studs in stock should you need a precut stud for a 10′ wall.

OSB is up but it is still trading at the bottom of the trading range.  Weyerhaeuser is moving into their planned shutdown so we can expect higher costs with freight factors and lack of production in the North Central region. As of today, plywood is trading at very high levels. I recommend that plywood subfloor users take a look at premium products such as Advantech.  ½” plywood users may even want to consider using thicker square edge OSB. Having put nails in both products, I know it feels better nailing plywood than OSB but these enhanced products are solid and hold up well.  Advantech actually has the best no-sand warranty on the market (500 day no-sand and limited lifetime transferable warranty).  Full warranty details on Advantech can be found here.  Again, this is in stock at Zeeland Lumber & Supply.

Wide dimensional has been flat until the last two weeks.  Pricing isn’t running away but it appears to be grinding upwards.  Look for alternative species with equivalent design values for Hem Fir or Doug Fir should major spreads start to develop.  We inventory 8′ to 16′  #1 Southern Yellow Pine in 2×8, 2×10, and 2×12 should you need anything with higher design values.  They work very well for pole barn carriers and you can sometimes get more length out of them when you need to frame rafters.

From my desk, I think it looks like we are in for the typical fall push.  If you have any projects coming that are particularly heavy in any specific dimension or length please let us know.  We continue to work diligently for you to provide solutions and value.

Housing Starts and Labor Shortages

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With hoMike-Dykstra-Smallusing permits up, home prices on the rise, and home inventory low, it is a better environment in the building industry.  With all of this positive momentum, a major challenge we are facing is a shortage of skilled labor.  To combat this problem there are a lot of initiatives taking shape, including our Governor Rick Snyder stating he wants Michigan to be the number one state in the country to attract skilled trades.  To that end, there are many efforts being done in West Michigan.  Just to name a few, the HBA of Greater Grand Rapids recently held the first ever Construction Job Fair, with the help of Michigan Works!  In addition, the Construction Workforce Development Alliance (CWDA) was formed to market our industry and attract new people to skilled trades labor.  This alliance is made up of leaders from the HBA, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), and American Subcontractors Association of Michigan (ASAM).  Please visit to learn more about this exciting new initiative.  Also, the first ever Careerquest was held in April at Devos Hall in downtown Grand Rapids, and the construction industry was well represented.  Never before have I seen more programs to attract people to our industry.

Students at 2014 Careerquest at Devos in Grand Rapids

Students gather at the 2014 CareerQuest in Grand Rapids, MI.

Currently, our company is gearing up our business to meet the added demand.  This includes investment in our Wyoming branch, and new start-up operations in Elkhart, IN, and Waterford, MI.  We also have solutions for turn-key labor, and wall panel and truss design and manufacturing.  We need great people to grow our business and meet demand, just like you do.  I hope we are all working to tell the real story of construction, the attractiveness of our industry, and the opportunities in our industry, so we can all win together.

Now Hiring, Truss Designer

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Location: Elkhart, IN

The Engineered Products Designer designs engineered wood products for roof, floors, and wall systems used in commercial and residential projects.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Must learn all facets of blue print take-offs.
  • Must learn / be knowledgeable in all areas of the software programs used.
  • Must accurately quote out projects per customer’s specifications in a timely manner, and follow through with established checks / balance procedures.
  • Assist customers in the design and planning of construction projects in a courteous and pleasant manner.
  • Design engineered products to meet criteria established by customer to meet all state and county codes as well as sound engineering / construction practices and follow the procedural guidelines of the Design Group.
  • Present finished layouts and shop drawing for all sold jobs, and make necessary alterations.
  • Use resources available to enhance sales, and continually strive to improve sales and communication skills.
  • Assist in both the office, and field, as needed.
  • Assist in estimating all materials supported by the company, as required.
  • Cooperate with all personnel, policies, and programs, in such a way as to always enhance the image of the company, each division, and employee.
  • Use own good judgment and abilities to support the best interests of the company in all situations and to perform other related duties as assigned.
  • Manage projects to the deadlines

Qualifications / Requirements

  • Technological capabilities
    • CAD software
    • Alpine Design software
  • Ability to see objects 3 dimensionally
  • Ability to learn and grow as industry changes.
  • Excellent listening skills and interpersonal communication skills.
  • Willingness to strive to succeed no matter what obstacles may come.
  • Positive attitude & self motivation
  • Ability to perform basic accounting tasks

Education / Training / Experience

  • Associate Degree in related field is preferred
  • Two years of estimating / design experience
  • Construction knowledge / experience helpful

If you would like to be considered for this position, please email your resume to

Now Hiring, Driver II

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Location: Zeeland, MI

Summary: Drives a motor truck under 26,000 pounds gross vehicle weight (GVW), on streets or highways to transport materials and merchandise.  May load or unload truck using Moffett and Skytrak equipment.  Drivers are responsible for securing the load using approved devices and methods.  Requires a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL).

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Move materials from one location to another.
  • Delivery of materials to customers.
  • Pick up materials from customers as required.

Qualifications / Requirements

  • Energetic, forward-thinking and creative individual with high ethical standards and an appropriate professional image.
  • Ability to read shipping documents.
  • Outstanding interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Strong analytical and cognitive skills.
  • Commitment to company values.
  • Knowledge of technology programs (WMS/bisTrack)

Education / Training / Experience

  • High School Diploma or GED Equivalent.
  • Valid Class B Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) or Chauffeur License

If you would like to be considered for this position, please email your resume to