COVID-19 Side Effect: Severe Lumber Shortage

Read story
Robison Wells
read story

While construction was considered an essential service in much of the country during the heart of the lockdown, many factories were shuttered, as the disease spreads so quickly and dangerously through factory workers side-by-side during long shifts, often sweating and breathing hard. (See the massive shutdowns in meat processing plants for more examples.)

But one industry that shut down tight was the lumber manufacturers in many parts of the country, which is now leaving lumber yards—and job sites—scrambling for wood products.

"We're playing catchup now because it's just we're so far behind and now that everybody's back to work. Everybody wants you here tomorrow. You know houses are coming through and foundations and when it couldn't make them and all they're, they're ready to go," said John Buranich from Clarks Summit, a homebuilder in Dalton, PA.

"My next load is not even promised. I have three loads on order in Virginia, and he has no idea. And he said, just keep telling me what you want, and if it comes available, I'll get it," said LaCoe of Dalton Do-It Lumber.

The shortage of lumber doesn't just hurt the businesses that sell it. It also affects contractors who can't start or finish their projects.

"If you can find, you can do it, you know. Most of my customers, I mean, we don't do a lot with the lumber part of it all, but no, it's a struggle, no matter what you're doing. I guess everything is backing up now, too," continued Buranich.

LaCoe says as soon as the store opens each day, the phone begins ringing from people looking for pressure-treated lumber.

"A gentleman from Wilkes-Barre calling here looking for four by fours. We have none. I offered him six by sixes. He said, 'No, I definitely got to finish a deck or I can't get paid.'"

LaCoe says the low supply is unlike anything he's ever seen before.

"It's scary and knowing that out of the 10 or 12 family-owned lumberyards that I know of in the area; we're all in the same boat."

Story tags: