A Nod to National Manufacturing Day, October 4th
“Got any P.T. decking?”
We’ve heard this question a lot lately at Phinney Lumber, and although supply levels are starting to get back to normal, it was pretty difficult to get your hands on deck boards for most of the summer. What happened?
Let’s go back to March, when COVID first hit the U.S. Several major lumber mills cut back on their production of lumber products as mill officials worried about a worsening economy and the health and safety of their employees.
"Lumber producers both in the U.S. and Canada...curtailed operations to a great extent in March and early April, both because there were lockdown orders and they forecasted that plunge in demand," David Logan, the director of tax, trade and policy analysis for National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) said in a March 2020 news interview.
However, months-long quarantines all over the U.S. caused a spike in do-it-yourself projects, as stuck-at-home Americans headed in droves to their local home improvement store to purchase construction supplies for home improvement projects. Lumber producers didn’t anticipate this surge in demand, or the surprising boom in new home construction that followed.
It's not just wood producers who are feeling the strain. Other manufacturers who supply Phinney Lumber were impacted as well, as cabinet making factories, window and door manufacturers, hardware factories, and more significantly reduced the number of employees on the factory floors and reduced production hours in order to sterilize workspaces in between shifts.
To make matters worse, heavy housing markets Boston and New York were the first ones to lift restrictions on construction, creating a vacuum effect as these markets sucked up the brunt of the limited supply of building materials.
Fortunately, hard times tend to bring out the hero in people, and Phinney Lumber is proud to partner with some businesses who have been able to shine despite the post-COVID market’s gloom.
Shout out to Shad’s of Windham, Maine, for pushing their limits in order to ensure that deadlines were not only met, but exceeded, for a retirement community build in Windham. They completed countertop templates ahead of schedule and were able to shorten their usual 2-3 week lead time to just 1 week, in spite of COVID challenges, in order to meet the project’s tight deadlines.
Another supplier, Maine Wood Treaters, did everything possible to ensure their Maine customer base was served as quickly and efficiently as possible before moving on to address additional markets; and in doing so helped Maine’s construction industry get back up and running as quickly as possible.
We may not know when we’ll see the end of COVID’s impact on manufacturing, but we are doing our best to take care of our customers and we are proud to work with suppliers who are doing the same.