Many lumbermen who once believed it was unthinkable to let low log supplies temporarily idle their sawmills have become far more willing to let that happen rather than pay log prices that don’t yield profits. With demand low in most markets, lower lumber production brought almost no reaction from lumber buyers.

“We don’t see any segment of our business getting nervous about lumber supply,” explained one sales manager. In spite of lower production, at least one green lumber producer reported that its trucks were waiting for long periods behind other trucks to get unloaded at some flooring plants.

Such was not the case at wood furniture factories, however, where lumber usage remained low. One wholesaler said the domestic furniture sector now comprises 7-8% of his business, down from 85% in the late 1990s.

Moulding and millwork plants said business was slightly better than last year but well below mid-2000s levels. Some wood component buyers have turned back to domestic suppliers because their requirements are smaller and higher ocean shipping costs have made domestic sources competitive again. One component producer commented, “I’m not seeing as much competition from imported Chinese components as I was a year ago.” The truck trailer flooring industry and railroad tie sector are now among the strongest markets for hardwood lumber.

Wood component makers shun lumber imports

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