Tuesday, 25 August 2015 20:27

The pros and cons of importing tropical hardwoods into the United States

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African mahogany, sapele, jatoba and red grandis have seemingly become regularly available tropical hardwood species in America.  For years hardwood lumber distributors have been stocking these fine exotic hardwoods for customers making them almost readily available for manufacturers and craftsmen.

But the ongoing supply of these species differs greatly from the native North American hardwoods we are used to.  The reason is based on a few key points relevant to supply. For example:

  • Purchasing tropical material from overseas is not an exact science.   Experience, market knowledge and good supplier relationships are critical to being successful.import shed 270x165
  • Product supply lead times are extensive.  Shipments get delayed at the supplier / mill for a wide variety of reasons.
  • Shipping delays at the port are commonplace. Many time they are measured in weeks or months for various reasons.
  • Ocean transit times are extensive. On average it takes between 45 and 60 days for a ship to travel port to port.
  • Currency fluctuations impact the supply price significantly.  Suppliers do not regularly trade in U.S. dollars therefore the exact rate for lumber can vary a great deal at time of sale.
  • Mixed species containers are not normally available. You need to be a large consumer to utilize a full shipment of a single species to ward off warehousing unneeded inventory and tying up value cash flow.
  • Not all tropical hardwood suppliers utilize consistent and reliable drying standards. This could create more work or inferior quality lumber when it arrives in the States.
  • Import regulations such as the Lacy Act are complex and extensive documentation to prove proper origin is required.

If you are a buyer of large amounts of tropical hardwood species you can benefit from purchasing the tropical species you need from a supplier who already has inventory in the United States or can arrange for direct shipments from proven suppliers overseas.  Let them manage the complexities of the importing process and the risk associated with these expensive species.  Baillie Lumber has been successfully providing customers tropical hardwoods since 2006.  We provide large and small quantities to customer all across the United States.  If you purchase tropical hardwoods contact us to see if we can help you manage your inventory needs better.

Baillie Lumber Co.
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