February 11, 2020

On Saturday, I had the privilege of attending the 40th anniversary and retirement celebration for Russell Jones at Framing Square Lumber in Midland, TX.  His son Chris will now take over as CEO.  Russell and I have been friends for many years, and I have seen his business grow into one of the most successful contractor supply yards in Texas.  He attributes his success to their relentless determination to be the best service provider in the state.  His motto is “They wouldn’t buy it if they didn’t need it right away, so let’s get it done!”  Even more importantly, he has been successful as a true independent, despite an increase in large, national competitors.  All successful businesses, like Framing Square Lumber, have a specific mission, and they pursue that mission with passion.  Framing Square’s mission is to provide the best service to contractors that they possibly can.  What is the mission of your business?  Does your team know it by heart, and do they pursue it?  I think we could all learn something from their example.

Lumber markets skyrocketed last week, as buyers from across the US aggressively stepped in to cover their Spring needs.  Nearly all items, in all grades and species, moved up.  2×4 #2 SPF prices jumped another $15 on strong volume.  Higher-end 2×4 #2 DF and WF prices were even stronger, moving up $20 to $25.  2×4 1650 MSR prices moved up by more than $25 on very limited mill offerings.  Stud prices also jumped by $15 to $25, depending upon the specie and trim.  With domestic lumber prices moving up, some dealers tried to fill their needs with 2×4 #2 premium Euro Spruce, which was plentiful at the southern ports just a month ago.  But even that dried up, and prices moved up aggressively.  Low grade lumber was almost non-existent, and the mills were getting their prices on the limited offerings they had.

Panel markets also skyrocketed.  OSB markets have moved up at a pace that we have not seen in years.  Dealers and distributors bought aggressively throughout the entire week, and one of the large producers in the south had their press table break and go down unexpectedly.  4×8 7/16” OSB prices moved up nearly $30 per msf, and even at that, mill offerings were almost non-existent.  The run in OSB prices also spilled over into plywood markets, and prices for rated sheathing increased.  4×8 ¾” CDX, which had been pretty flat for the last month or 2, moved up by $20.  Prices for specialty plywood items did not change much, but lead times increased, which could push them up at a later time.

Steel markets remained mostly unchanged last week, while most manufacturers and distributors were attending the World of Concrete show in Las Vegas.  Scrap steel prices, which had been rising over the last 2 months, dropped a bit, and rebar prices for both domestic and imported bar remained unchanged.