Market Recap: RISI Crow’s Construction Materials Cost Index
A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for Feb. 7, 2014
*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: While eastern Canadian SPF producers lowered prices in search of sales, western producers held onto price levels for yet another week. Heavy snows and frigid temperatures restricted consumption throughout much of the northern tier of the U.S. A slower trading pace in the Southern Pine lumber market forced producers to seek sales from a weaker position. That weakness prompted buyers to reevaluate their positions, which often involved a strategy of reducing their inventories. Slow trading in the Coastal species lumber market left mills with growing volumes to push into the market, leading to lower prices. Both buyers and sellers of Inland species remained optimistic about spring business. Buyers were hesitant to commit much in the way of spring purchases until a clearer market direction was established. Sellers were not in a panic to sell and were content to write business as it came to them. Importers had limited amounts of Radiata Pine Mldg&Btr to sell and sold them readily at published levels. Some discounts were reported for less desirable lengths and mixes. The harsh winter weather in a large portion of the country continued to put the squeeze on the Ponderosa Pine industrials market. Door and window producers cut back their purchases for February, citing a buildup in inventory. Inquiries for Ponderosa Pine boards were light, but producers reported availability was also limited. Although sales calls were light, producers said they were busy fielding calls from customers checking on the status of previous purchases. Strong order files and production limited by cold weather kept Eastern White Pine prices on firm ground. Western Red Cedar producers, distribution yards and retailers remained in a wait-and-see mode, as winter weather virtually ceased consumption in key regions of the U.S.
Panels: OSB markets remained quiet and uneventful. Influences outside of supply and demand had as much, if not more, impact than sales. Both buyers and sellers cited winter weather and transportation difficulties as major influences on their markets. Most Southern Pine plywood producers reported a moderate pickup in rated sheathing sales, which extended their order files into the week of Feb. 17. The market was generally upbeat, with most traders perceiving a much stronger market once weather conditions improve. A few Western Fir plywood producers reported mild increases in demand, but most indicated that sales activity was lackluster. Mills unwilling to lower prices tried to sell truckloads into local markets. Other mills wanting to move carload volumes did so with discounts of around $10. Canadian plywood sales made were at, or slightly above, published levels. Mill order files were as far out as the week of March 3, with very little wood offered before the week of Feb. 24. Weather also influenced both particleboard and MDF markets. SierraPine’s announcement that its Springfield, Oregon, particleboard mill would permanently close sometime in March sent buyers in the West scrambling for coverage.
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The construction calculator gets a makeover
Las Vegas — They are arguably the world’s first mobile apps, not counting the abacus. And yet, handheld calculators are showing no signs of disappearing from the job site.
In fact, Calculated Industries, makers of the Construction Master Pro handheld calculator, is adding (some would say multiplying) to its product offering to appeal to new users and old.
With builder-specific functions and buttons, such as "rise," "run" and "slope," the Construction Master Pro calculator has a loyal following among builders and contractors, who over the years have purchased about a million of the devices. Builders at the International Builders’ Show were buying them right out of the Calculated Industries booth on the show floor here in Las Vegas.
The calculator itself sells for just under $50. There’s a mobile phone app version that sells for $19.95 and has extra features, such as tutorials on each of the calculators function buttons.
Not surprisingly, the younger user embraces the app more than the older user. "Apprentices and the 30 and 40 are going toward the app," said Jennifer Goedde, marketing communications manager for Carson City, Nev.-based Calculated Industries. "But you’d be surprised, because most of them have the handheld version also."
Calculated Industries promoted five platforms for its Construction Master Pro — handheld version, a larger desktop version, iPad app, iPhone app and PC version.
NyloDeck makes its case at IBS
Las Vegas — One look at the demonstration plank, and it’s easy to see the basic story behind NyloDeck. The demo deck board has synthetic carpet fibers blooming like flowers out of one end.
The story gets better the more you look into it, according to Doug Morse, COO of Covington, Ga.-based NyloBoard LLC, makers of the premium product made of recycled, compressed and treated carpet. It begins with the slogan, No wood. No PVC. No worries.” And the story, according to Morse, has propelled the NyloDeck team to gain distribution partners and market penetration in 2013, its first full year in existence
Made from compressed and treated recycled carpet fibers, the product offers good looks along with high-end performance, including flexural strength. (In other words, it doesn’t bend.) And therefore, it allows designers the flexibility to create tighter joints, he said.
"We made a product that proved itself," said Doug Morse, COO of NyloBoard, makers of NyloDeck. NyloDeck was born "conceptually" in 2010, and "seriously" in mid 2012, he said during in interview at the International Builders’ Show "Show Village" model home, which was decked out in NyloDeck.
Morse listed some of the new distributors: Reserve Supply of Central New York, Cardinal Building Materials, Klumb Lumber, to name a few.
NyloDeck benefited from the realignment of decking distribution that resulted from the merger of the TimberTech and AZEK brands, Morse said. But it was more than just external events that led to the growth of the products distributor partners in the past 12 months. “We were still riding good momentum,” he said. "And most of that is good, hard work on the behalf of NyloBoard. We were busy getting the product in front of the right people.”
Wood decks continue to lead the industry in a large way. But Morse says non-wood decks are gaining ground. Also boding well for NyloDeck, he said, is that customers in the non-wood space are moving toward the high-end in their deck-purchase decisions.
At the Builders’ show, the company introduced a sixth color: Coastal Mist (a light gray). And the company expects to bring a porch floor product to market in the second quarter.
Morse added that NyloDeck has diverted a million pounds of recycled carpet fibers from U.S. landfills. “We think the green component of the product is another side of the story,” Morse said. “Its one of the legs of our three-legged stool, along with performance of the product and the look of the product.”
NyloDeck is made in Covington, Ga., with all raw materials from the U.S.