NRLA says 3 states give ‘essential’ designation

The Northeastern Retail Lumber Association (NRLA) reported that through executive action, three states – New York, Maine and Pennsylvania - have designated building material suppliers as essential businesses.

[Update: On Saturday afternoon, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy specifically included hardware and home improvement on a list of "essential" retailers. The governor said work at construction sites can also continue unimpeded. Both were part of an announcement ordering most residents to stay at home.]

The NRLA has said that building material suppliers play an important role in building the health and safety for communities during the coronavirus crisis.

“NRLA members are locally owned businesses that have played a critical role in supporting our communities during emergency situations such as hurricanes, floods, snowstorms, and fires,” said Rita Ferris, NRLA president. “We are thrilled to have three Governors take the lead in making sure that flow of construction materials and goods that support safe, healthy homes are readily available to the public and construction companies.”

“While the safety of our employees and customers is our priority, and we are following all safety precautions, building material suppliers want to be supportive of individuals and communities,” said Jay Curtis, president of Curtis Lumber Company Inc., based in Ballston Spa, N.Y. “During times of uncertainty and confusion, the public has come to know us as a trusted and reliable partner that must be allowed to fully operate without workforce and capacity restrictions.”

The NRLA, which operates in 11 states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region, is advocating for the lumber and building material supply industry to be deemed as essential across the United States and is asking member-companies to email their governor and legislators to request the designation.

“Our members provide critical services to individuals and contractors as well as local, state, and federal municipalities such as highway departments and water departments,” said Kirk Ives, NRLA director of legislative and regulatory affairs. “They provide the products and support needed to maintain the safety and security of homes, businesses, and construction projects.”

The NRLA is a 1,200-member association representing independent lumber and building material suppliers and associated businesses in New York, New Jersey, the Mid-Atlantic, and six New England states.

“We thank Governor Mills, Governor Cuomo, and Governor Wolf for their leadership during these difficult times,” Ives said. “I’m hopeful that other states around the nation will follow their lead.”

As many retail operations and the service industry has shuttered or ground to a halt, what remains as an essential retail business during the coronavirus epidemic has come into question.

The National Retail Federation has called for national guidance to help state and local authorities determine what qualifies as an essential retail business.

Additionally, the National Lumber and Building Materials Dealer Association (NLBMDA) continues to advocate for the continued operation of hardware and building supply dealers during the coronavirus outbreak.