DISTRIBUTORS/CO-OPS

Navigating a summer of challenges

At the Do it Best Fall Market, an LBM Update included advice for a complex business.

BY Ken Clark

Indianapolis — The lumber and building material team at Do it Best Corp. has been studying the prices of lumber in all of its forms and have seen some interesting results in 2018. For instance, it’s been one of the worst fire seasons ever – a seemingly inflationary situation — and yet the buyers have seen prices go down.

It’s just one example of the complexities of the lumber and panel market that is being confronted with fires, flooding, volatile freight rates, rail car shortages and in even strikes (or the threat of them) in lumber-producing areas. According to Todd Hixson, Do it Best’s divisional manager for lumber and panel products described prices as heading down from a year ago.  Yellow pine is higher, but that’s “the only item we track that is not below last year’s prices,” Hixson said.

According to Do it Best’s LBM team, dealers could help mitigate transportation challenges by speeding up the unloading of shipments. Another idea presented was to consider wall panel and roof truss manufacturing as tactics to increase market share and help building customers manage the labor shortages.

Joe Corah, purchasing divisional manager, building materials, purchasing & home décor, described a summer of challenges that also included product shortages, consolidation of distributors and the impact of tariffs.

The impact of tariffs has generated price increases, as well as confusion as to what is a legitimate price increase, and what is not. According to Jean Fahy, divisional manager, building materials sales, a Do it Best merchandising task force has been established to study rpice increases to determine their validity.

“We are behind the scenes, fighting to keep prices as low as possible,” she said.

Also during the LBM update in Indianapolis, the co-op recognized three of its members for their various recent awards. Charlie Gillman of Gillman Home Centers won the Beacon Award for Retailer of the Year. Brenda and Elliott Massey from Agricola Do it Best Hardware & Lumber won the Beacon Award for Best New Store.

And Adam Hendrix of Chic Lumber Company of greater St. Louis was recognized as HBSDealer Independent ProDealer of the Year.

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