Trading has been moderate to slow over the holidays, but panel prices held steady coming into the new year. Mills seem optomistic about the 2014 building season, whether retailers and builders are optimistic has yet to be determined. In the next couple of months we will be traveling to buying shows where feedback from our peers and analysts will help us make informed decisions about what can be expected as we head into spring.
The market is hard to decipher, but trucking seems to be a harder nut to crack, especially as winter weather contributes to the already difficult situation. According to the American Trucking Associations, there is demand for 96,000 new truck drivers annually and increasing demand for the most common mode of material transport could bring the shortage of truckers over 240,000 by 2022.
In a business where we can’t possibly stock a huge quantity of every product we sell, logistics can make or break our ability to service our customers. We rely on replenishing stock quickly and as turnaround times worsen for our direct buys from manufacturers , we cringe at the thought of being out of stock for some heavily demanded products.
With winter weather pounding down on us we are continually replenishing our supply of salt and ice melting products, but getting a truck under each load has proven extremely difficult. Ordering in advance of need has become common, despite prior years when we could order a truckload whenever our bins began to look empty. Ed Smith, our purchasing manager recently placed an order for a truckload of Black Beauty sand, and a load that was scheduled to reach us in 3 days ended up taking 2 weeks to get. That load was only travelling a few short hours, not cross country.
Previously we mentioned the drywall and mud price increases that took effect January 1st, the only drywall related product that hasn’t seen an increase is tape. A couple of insulation products have also experienced price increases, mineral wool and cellulose, but fiberglass jumped significantly last fall so that should hold steady for at least the short term. Other USG products, ceiling tile and grid, will see an increase in early February and metal studs are sheduled for increases this spring and early summer.
Stay tuned for more market reports and subrscribe to our e-newsletter for exclusive sales and product updates!