Conflict over treated lumber
Lumber treater Sunbelt Forest Products says it will appeal new guidelines from the American Wood Protection Association that govern when to use Ground Contact treatments, and when to use Above Ground treatments.
Meanwhile, some dealers are already converting their inventory of pressure-treated lumber to Ground Contact standards. And the issue has created sharp disagreement over the interpretation of the standards.
As previously reported in HBSDealer, the new AWPA guidance added clarity to situations that require Ground Contact treatment. For instance, “components that are difficult to replace and critical to the structure or that may be exposed to Ground Contact type hazards.” The AWPA maintains an Above Ground standard for “wood-based materials used in exterior construction that are coated and not in contact with the ground.”
The plans for modification of the standard have already affected what’s available on the shelves.
“We actually made the decision to convert all of our pressure-treated inventory to Ground Contact,” said Ryan Mulkeen, director of marketing for Midland Park, New Jersey-based Kuiken Brothers, an 8-location pro dealer. “From what we gather, most competitors are doing the same.”
The Home Depot is another company that has made a move. “We’re partnering with suppliers to convert wood products from “Above Ground contact retentions” to “Ground Contact retentions” in a rolling change that began in February and will impact nearly every U.S. store,” said Geoff Case, merchant, decking and pressure-treated lumber.
Case added: “We’re constantly looking for ways like this to improve products for our customers, and this change is being made in accordance with new standards recently issued by the American Wood Protection Association.”
But Sunbelt has described these moves away from products treated as Above Ground as misguided.
“Some retailers and wood treatment companies appear to be under the mistaken impression that all treated wood used in outdoor applications must meet Ground Contact standards,” said Ken DelleDonne, president of Sunbelt Forest Products. “But this is not the case.”
DelleDonne linked a switch to Ground Contact wood with higher costs and environmental concerns.
Sunbelt also believes that the AWPA’s revisions were based on a flawed process that omitted important technical data. Hence the appeal.
“The AWPA’s responsibility is to get the standards right on an industry-changing guideline like this one,” said DelleDonne. “We need to reconsider the proposal with all the facts, not just a few pieces of select information.”
When reached to comment on the appeal, the AWPA’s Colin McCown replied: "If and when an appeal is submitted, it will be processed in accordance with our accredited procedures. I cannot speculate as to the decision that will be made by AWPA's Executive Committee at a future meeting."
The issue has revealed divisions within the treated lumber industry.
On May 16, Sunbelt issued a press release that carried the headline: “AWPA reaffirms efficacy of Above Ground treatment standards for outdoor uses.” This week, Koppers Performance Chemicals issued its own press release rebutting several points from the Sunbelt release.
For instance, Koppers wrote that contrary to Sunbelt’s assertion, “We are not aware of any wood treaters or other suppliers who have forced (or even tried to force) home centers and lumberyards to do anything about the new AWPA Standards. However, we are aware that many home centers and lumberyards throughout the U.S. are converting specific dimension lumber sizes commonly used for deck and dock joists and beams to Ground Contact preservative retention levels in light of the new application Standard.”
Koppers also contradicted Sunbelt by claiming “wood preservative products that are registered for Ground Contact use with the EPA are suitable for use in residential, agricultural and commercial applications.”
[Note: This story has been adjusted to include a comment from the AWPA.]
Next Big Thing: High-touch service
Midland Park, New Jersey-based Kuiken Brothers used a flying GoPro camera to shoot this video of a lumber delivery.
But that's not the innovation that caught our attention.
Here, a truck-mounted moffett forklift delivers a carefully packaged load in a way that's designed to save the customer time and effort — a high-touch service that makes for a world of differentiation.
"In the past, we would have dumped these lumber loads on site and let the framers sort through the framing package to pull the material they need, but with labor in high demand, our customers are looking for that little bit of extra service to help them save time and keep their crews framing," said director of marketing Ryan Mulkeen in an email. "So we package our loads differently now so that our experienced drivers can stage the material. It takes a little extra effort on our end, but it is an investment that we have made to partner with our customers."
The video is part of Kuiken Brothers' "The Delivery" video series campaign, showing their moffett forklift delivering a load of premium doug fir lumber, plywood and Boise Cascade LVL to a new construction project.
Video: Here’s how to open a new location
With the cutting of the I-Joist, Short & Paulk’s Cuthbert, Georgia, location officially commenced business.
The location is Georgia-based Short & Paulk Supply Company’s fifth unit. The building once served as a Coca-Cola bottling plant, and was extensively remodeled by the Short & Paulk team.
During the grand-opening ceremony, Randolph County 4-H group cooked and served hamburgers, and eventually reaped $1,412 in tips and contributions from the lumberyard.