As the recession has had an impact on the wood working industry, the professionals at J. Gibson McIlvain (mcilvain.com) have seen a very alarming trend in the building trade among lumber suppliers. In the last several years, the price for manufactured and engineered products has stayed roughly the same, while the price for the woods used to create these products has increased substantially.
How is this possible? Are suppliers taking a loss every time they sell a manufactured board? This is not likely. After all, they are in the industry to make money, and are going to do whatever is necessary to do so. The only other option is a change in the way these boards are manufactured that makes them more affordable to the supplier.
Now, if these changes were simply changes to make the process more cost effective, that would not be a problem, but there is only so much a supplier can do to cut costs in this way. The fact remains that the only way for this trend to be working the way it has been is for the suppliers to be changing something more integral to the way these products are manufactured, and this means that they are creating a lower quality product.
Of course, buyers may be wondering how this is possible, especially since most of these products have grading systems in place. The fact is, these grading systems are complex and have a lot of variables. Also, the grading systems are constantly changing, and usually the change is to lower the quality requirements for the grade. So, a grade A piece of plywood today is not going to be of the same quality as it was 10 years ago. This allows the manufacturers to use more of the raw materials to create the higher grade product, but it does not help buyers with the quality they want.
This lowering of quality is not the only problem. Another way that suppliers try to offset the rising cost of lumber is to streamline their process so they can add more product to the market. This additional product, they hope, will sell and make up for the extra they are paying for the hardwoods.
So what do we have? We have an industry that is flooded with lower quality products. This creates a problem for those suppliers who are not willing to stoop to these new “lows” and offer a sub-par product to their customers.
Discerning buyers need to know that this is happening, and that they need to find the right supplier to ensure that they are getting the top quality product. Going by grade alone is not going to be sufficient in this current climate. You will need to find a supplier you trust to offer the top quality products and not cut corners to save costs.