Tuesday, 19 March 2019 19:42

Buying Hardwoods In Times of Tight Supply

The hardwood lumber industry has always seen fluctuating changes in supply and demand, which is part of what makes this industry both challenging and exciting. On the surface, high demand for hardwoods may seem like a great problem to have, but what if your company cannot meet the demands of your regular customers? Looking at this from a hardwood buyers’ point of view, when you compete for raw materials in times of short supply the rising costs can really make a dent in your bottom line.

As we, and many others, have seen lately, hardwood lumber supply has decreased due to various reasons.  For example, logs seem to be in short supply due to weather impacts, many sawmills are lowering production because of export market demand being  DSC1761lower. In addition, hardwood supply inventories seem to be developing gaps due to replenishment challenges.  In times like this, we believe in fostering strong relationships with our customers, so we can plan and prepare for the challenges that we face when we come onto times of demand exceeding supply.

Providing a steady supply of raw material to customers is just one important aspect of what a valued supplier can do for a manufacturer or distributor. It is also equally important that a supplier explores cost-cutting opportunities, is a resource in terms of industry related information, can help identify growth opportunities, or even provide insight on future trends that may influence your business. To put it simply, a valued supplier should be part of any business’s growth strategy.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when working with your supplier.

  • Analyze the benefits of buying ahead. When in times of low production, it could make sense to buy inventory ahead of time. If you require a product that may see dwindling supply in the near future, it might make sense to order ahead and schedule a release date with your supplier. This allows you to secure the supply you need in advance which will then be shipped to you on the scheduled release date. This is especially useful for customers that require “just-in-time” deliveries.

  • Consider species alternatives. If you can use alternate species in your production, it may be a something to consider. For instance, as we have seen in the case of cabinetry lately, Cherry has been considered as a replacement material for Hard and Soft Maple by some Cabinet manufacturers because Cherry’s working properties and similar grain pattern allow it to mimic the look that Maple would give when finished with either stain or paint. Not to mention Maple has been so hard to come by lately.
  • Consider higher yielding products. In times of short supply, getting the most for your money can make quite a difference. This can be achieved in a variety of ways.
    • Customized Grades - These products help you increase yields and reduce waste by providing only the subset of the lumber grade that is best for increasing your yields. An example of this is our Super Prime Red Oak.
    • Width Sorts - Width sorts are very popular with flooring manufacturers and window and door manufacturers. This sort provides manufactures bundles of lumber that are less random and thus increase their yields.
    • Moulder Ready Blanks -  Ripped to width hardwoods are excellent for moulding, cabinetry, furniture, and flooring applications. Hardwood ripping allows manufacturers to purchase of the exact width lumber they need to insert into their manufacturing processes which streamlines production, decreases waste, and of course, improves lumber yields! 

A vendor that makes the effort to be more than a supplier, works to understand your business needs and works with you to create solutions for you can really be a differentiating factor when approaching times of tight supply. A hardwood supplier that can alert you to a shortage of materials ahead of time and helps develop strategies for you to deal with that shortage can really be a great asset to your business.

Are you looking to get a steady supply of the hardwood lumber you need? Let us know! We would be happy to be a resource for your supply needs.  

Brett Del Prince
Baillie Lumber
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