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An agenda that builds framework

BY HBSDealer Staff

The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association’s 2017 National Policy Agenda is out in the open, spelling out the lumberyard industry’s interest in nine areas, including housing and construction, tax and economic policy, legal reform and transportation.

One big fan of the principles highlighted in the document is George Lester, NLBMDA chairman.

“The 2017 NLBMDA National Policy Agenda provides a commonsense, pro-business framework that eliminates unnecessary regulatory burdens, and promotes sound fiscal policies needed for sustained economic expansion,” said Lester, who is also chairman and CEO of The Lester Group in Martinsville, Va.

The document is very similar to the prior year’s agenda. New in 2017 is the inclusion of guidance on taller wood buildings. The NLBMDA supports the Timber Innovation Act, and additionally supports “building codes that allow for the construction of wood-frame buildings that are more than six stories.”

Another emphasis is in product-neutral building codes, according to Ben Gann, VP of legislative and political affairs. “The feedback from NLBMDA’s dealer members is important in improving the National Policy Agenda,” he added.

The mortgage interest deduction, a topic emphasized by Lester in his letter to policymakers that serves as an introduction to the 2017 agenda, is another high priority of the association.

“Reforming the tax code could aid the economy and make businesses more competitive,” Lester wrote in his introduction. “However, NLBMDA opposes efforts to modify or repeal the mortgage interest deduction that has long ensured housing’s stalwart role in economic growth.”

NLBMDA’s 2017 National Policy Agenda will be distributed to members of Congress and key administration officials and will be used by NLBMDA members when they visit their members of Congress during the NLBMDA Spring Meeting and Legislative Conference on March 27 to 29 in Washington, D.C.

Visit Dealer.org for the full National Policy Agenda document.

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Product knowledge: Sheetrock

BY HBSDealer Staff

The product: Sheetrock brand wallboard panel

The manufacturer: USG Corp., formerly known as United States Gypsum Co.

The centennial: In 1917, USG officially named its wallboard panels “Sheetrock.”

The background: In 1916, USG invented the modern wallboard — a single layer of gypsum plaster between two sheets of paper, eliminating the long drying time associated with plaster. The first panels were made in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Fun fact: USG makes enough Sheetrock brand wallboard each year to reach the moon, if laid end to end.

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Market Recap: RISI Crow’s Construction Materials Cost Index

BY HBSDEALER Staff

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Feb. 24, 2017.

Western – regional species perimeter foundation; Southern – regional species slab construction.

Crow's Market Recap — A condensed recap of the market conditions for the major North American softwood lumber and panel products as reported in Crow's Weekly Market Report.

Lumber: The SPF market exhibited some spotty weakness while other producers clung to price levels underpinned by order files extending into mid-March. At the secondary level, sales persisted, albeit at a slower pace, at price levels well below those still quoted by mills. Facing a Southern Pine market in which buyers often perceived too much price aggression, wholesalers sold their positions at discounted levels and overall sales slowed. Shrinking lead times at mills signaled to buyers that inventories in distributor’s yards were at satisfactory levels. Coastal species producers reported moderate sales activity relative to prior weeks. As a result, a few mills offered discounts for a few items, but prices for the most part were firm and even managed to move higher in several instances. Inland lumber buyers were significantly less active, and prices stopped pushing quite so hard. Even so, when compared with last week, prices of both Fir-Larch and Hem-Fir have glided slightly higher, especially in the narrow widths. Stud prices were influenced by a number of market drivers. Markets experienced slower sales activity overall, which prompted some mills to seek sales with moderate discounts. Other producers had just enough order file to ward off those cuts. Wholesalers generated two-tiered markets by offering volumes below mill prices. In industrial lumber, Radiata Pine shows no significant price changes for material destined for US consumption. Low grade Ponderosa Pine items of both 5/4 and 6/4 are more difficult to source than they have been recently. In boards, forces are combining to put a gentle squeeze on Ponderosa Pine 4/4 material. If the breakup is long or messy, these forces could tighten the market significantly. The big players in the Western Red Cedar market have sold much of their production for the first quarter. Prices continued to edge higher this week.

Panels: The continental OSB market has glided to a gentle peak this week. The situation in OSB, as in plywood, is a two-tiered standoff. The fervid buying that took place in the two weeks previous has waned, leaving buyers with lots of wood and mills with strong order files. Last week, Southern Pine plywood sales slowed a bit from the pace set in prior weeks. This week, sales ratcheted down another notch. Despite a quieter market, producers continued to push prices, achieving moderately higher levels. Western Fir plywood mills experienced an uptick in activity Tuesday. Others reported moderately improved sales as the week progressed. Either way, it was enough to keep mill order files at a comfortable distance and even edge some prices a few dollars higher. A very distinct two-tiering situation has developed in Canadian plywood. Lots of wood is now heading into the system, causing buyers to dampen their zeal for further buying. Few changes appeared in the overall market for either particleboard or MDF during the week. Producers continued the process of implementing price increases. Buyers shopped the market for board carrying the least amount of increase or paid the higher prices.

For more on RISI, click here.

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