Environmentalism makes a stand
As building product companies prepare to celebrate Earth Day, and at a time when U.S. environmental policy is under increased scrutiny, a survey of American consumers shows a willingness among them to pay more for green products.
More than half (56%) of consumers here still say they are willing to pay more to use environment-friendly ( or “green”) products – an uptick of three percentage points from the 2010 level (53%), according to findings from GfK MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer.
The data also show that half (50%) of adults say (agree “somewhat” or “mostly”) that they are willing to give up convenience in return for a product that is environmentally safe – an increase of three points from 2010 (47%).
Consumer interest in a company’s “green” scorecard has held steady in recent years. According to the latest GfK MRI research, 49% agree at least partly with the statement, “A company’s environmental record is important to me in my purchasing decisions.”
That represents a one-point increase versus 2010 (48%). GfK MRI’s studies show that almost seven in 10 (69%) US consumers agree “somewhat” or “completely” with the statement, “Global warming is a serious threat,” a jump of five points from the 2010 level (64%).
Meanwhile, companies are taking part in the Earth Day celebration in a variety of ways.
AZEK Building Products, maker of decking, railing, trim, moulding, porch and pavers, is celebrating what it calls its “year-round commitment to sustainability” by supporting the National Forest Foundation. The goal is collect $5,000 to plant 5,000 trees.
During the month of April, AZEK Building Products will donate one dollar for every Facebook share it receives on special Earth Dayposts. The objective is to reach up to 5,000 shares, or the equivalent of a $5,000 donation to the National Forest Foundation.
At DaVinci Roofscapes, a manufacturer of synthetic slate and shake roofing tiles, the Earth Day story is conservation.
Says Bryan Ward, vice president of operations at DaVinci Roofscapes in Lenexa, Kan.: "We view Earth Day as a time to evaluate the progress of our recycling operations and share the good news about our enhanced efforts," says Ward.
The company has kept more than 1.2 million pounds of polymer scrap out of landfills in 2016. The record-setting recycling effort includes the remolding of more than 696,000 pounds of grinded scrap into starter tiles and the transfer of 567,000 pounds of scrap to an end-user who makes pallets, crates and totes.
"Our goal is zero percentage of scrap going into a landfill," Ward said. "We are always looking for ways to recycle and reuse every single piece of waste in our planet.”
Market Recap: RISI Crow’s Construction Materials Cost Index
A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for April 14, 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: What SPF producers had left to sell for shipment in the month of April sold readily. The potential for lighter than expected duties, skyrocketing cash prices, plummeting lumber futures and the approaching need for mills to sell May wood generated caution among buyers. Double-digit price increases remained a fixture across most Southern Pine #2. Steady price hikes generated caution among buyers, but nice weather and subsequent field demand continued to send buyers into the marketplace. Coastal species pricing continued to climb due to persistent demand. Buyers expressed some objections to participating at the current price levels, but sales activity warranted those purchases. Inland producers reported the market to be “extremely busy,” citing consistent calls and sales throughout the week. Both Hem-Fir and Fir-Larch showed solid price advances, and sales are being made across a wide spectrum of buyers. Stud prices remained on a strong upward trajectory. Limited offerings from Canadian SPF producers provided producers of other species with additional sales activity. The situation in Radiata Pine does not yet appear to be on the verge of change, and prices remain reasonably stable. Ponderosa Pine prices for #3 Shop and P99 are significantly firmer. Demand for this material remains strong, as moulding and millwork producers struggle to find sufficient material to cover needs. Ponderosa Pine Selects and Commons are very active, moving well and pushing upward in price. Price movement is restricted to the Common boards, with Selects remaining firm but unchanged. Prices in ESLP have also shown good strength, as buyers have increased demand for that species. Idaho White Pine is largely absent from the current market, and Eastern White Pine is firmer in Industrial grade. Traders anxiously awaited the approaching decision on duties expected April 24 from the US Department of Commerce. Buyers again scoured the market for coverage.
Panels: Following last week’s breathless run-up in OSB pricing and demand, momentum carried through until midweek with further spikes in the numbers. By Wednesday, market players took a breather and stepped back from the fracas. Any lingering softness in Southern Pine plywood pricing last week, evidenced by moderate discounting in a few instances, disappeared this week. The market experienced less activity late in the week, with many traders leaving their offices early Thursday, prior to Good Friday. Western Fir plywood producers reported a good week of sales, spurred in part by a major producer’s exit from the market for most of the week. Sheathing price increases were strong. The momentum in Canadian plywood activity carried over to this week, then quieted as participants took Friday off for the holiday. Order files moved solidly into the week of May 8 at all mills, and some are almost out for that week. The potential for any uptick in particleboard or MDF demand expected early in the year is gradually “fading away.” Producers continued to note little change in their customers’ approach to the market. Producers reported sluggish sales at the end of the week, prior to the Easter weekend.
Product Central: Handy Home Monterey Oval Gazebo
There’s a big wide world encompassing the spectrum between impulse buys and big-ticket products, but it’s fair to say that the SKUs with the highest price points get the credit whenever big-box retailers like Home Depot pull through with impressive quarterly numbers.
Having said that, even the smaller independents are getting some help from their co-ops: Orgill, for example, is rolling out on-demand custom POP signage for big-ticket categories like grills, where smaller dealers can compete with the big boxes.
Though dealers are generally more keen to lean into their most obvious strengths — often by prioritizing customer service over anything else — ticket size is worth considering.
Here is a product featured in a recent issue of HBSDealer:
Handy Home Monterey Oval Gazebo
Outdoor living is an area of major growth and investment for homeowners these days. A crowning touch — like this 10×14 gazebo built with tight-knot cedar — makes a compelling case for bringing the indoors out. $3,099
Check out other big-ticket items featured in the April 2017 issue of HBSDealer. (Prices listed are approximate.)