The timber and lumber industry typically operates smoothly with only occasional short-term, regional supply issues caused by fires, floods, or perhaps unexpected growth in local or regional construction projects. These shortages are usually little more than hiccups that increase lead times by a week or two.

The unprecedented nationwide, supply chain shortage we are dealing with now is caused by a combination of issues that have piled upon one another. The restrictions and complications caused by COVID-19 are at the root of the problem, of course.

On the supply side, the initial shutdown due to COVID-19 included many mills, and even mills that were not shut down were operating with limited capacity due to safety. Further hurting supply in 2020 were numerous wildfires in Oregon that burned more than one million acres.

On the demand side, new home construction continued to be much stronger than expected, especially considering COVID-19’s effects on unemployment. Additionally, with people dealing with lockdowns and working from home, DIY and home-improvement projects soared. From simple remodels to decks and gazebos to docks, piers, and bulkheads, it seems everyone is starting a construction project.

Amanda Kimmey, a Project Consultant at American Pole and Timber in Houston, TX, who works with many commercial and FEMA construction projects shared, “Some products that are typically on the racks or readily available are taking 7 and 8 weeks to have on site. Some poles and timbers are still in the forest when the customer places the order.”

As a custom manufacturer of timber products with strong sourcing capabilities, American Pole and Timber is uniquely able to help its customers get what they need. As their slogan goes, “if we don’t have what you need, we can make it,” their flexible and agile production capabilities mean they can make products or alternative components that keep their clients’ projects moving forward.

Kimmey goes on to describe how their manufacturing capabilities are keeping projects moving, “For example, many customers are using our Gun Barrel Pilings in place of square pilings because we make those in-house and we don’t rely on mills for supply. We’re also able to continue making many of our custom products like timber trusses and industrial wood products, pressure vessel saddles and so on, because we can make those from raw materials.”

Expectations from market leaders are that the current higher costs may well become the new normal for a while but lumber futures indicate we may be approaching or might have reached top-of-market prices.

About American Pole & Timber

American Pole & Timber is a leading, Texas-based distributor and manufacturer supplying projects across the United States and abroad. Since 1993, American Pole & Timber has delivered extended life building materials, distinctive manufacturing services, and building materials solutions to marine, industrial, commercial, and custom residential projects.  Visit www.AmericanPoleAndTimber.com.

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