(The Center Square) – Rising interest rates may be deflating demand for lumber in some markets, but in Chicagoland, lumber yard operators say business is “unbelievable” this summer.
Mark Kammermeier has owned Woodstock Lumber in McHenry County for 35 years.
“Business is up another 25%. We can’t keep up,” Kammermeier told The Center Square.
Last year, in spite of the highly publicized supply chain delays and shortages, Woodstock’s business was up 100%, Kammermeier said.
He said he finds it hard to believe that his sales are up another 25% on top of that this summer.
“We’ve got 60 deliveries a day,” Kammermeier said. “They are buying everything we can get our hands on. We buy out every wholesaler. We buy out mills. It’s unbelievable growth.”
Everybody is building, he said. From the small do-it-yourselfer who is putting on a deck, to the big guys, everybody is buying, Kammermeier said.
“We have not seen the pullback….as of yet,” he said.
The demand for white pine lumber from small buyers has been steady, he said.
Reports of people taking vacations instead of spending money for home improvements are not what he is seeing, he said.
Kammermeier believes the demand for building supplies is being driven by a need for housing.
“More people need housing. There’s just a shortage of housing everywhere,” he said.
Half of the lumber that Woodstock sells comes from Europe – premium spruce from Sweden and Germany. Kammermeier said he has had no trouble with delayed shipments.
Some of his customers are surprised at that detail. When it comes to information, Kammermeier said customers are not up to date.
“For the typical consumer, information is months old,” Kammermeier said.
A lot of people are still thinking there are shortages, he said, but that is definitely not the case. If people need lumber supplies, chances are Woodstock Lumber has got it or they can get it fairly quickly, he said.
“Today we have over 60 deliveries going out,” he said.
Last year there were a lot of tales of woe from people who were waiting six months and even nine months or more for cabinets and other lumber products. The situation is much improved this year, Kammermeier said. If somebody wants to remodel a kitchen, the wait is not too bad.
“We’re at about six weeks right now. Some of our manufacturers could be out three months, but we have some that are as short as six weeks,” he said.
Kammermeier is aware that nationally, lumber sales have slowed in some markets. Every market is different, he said. One hour west of McHenry County, things could be different than what Woodstock is experiencing, he said. But he sees no slowdown in Chicagoland and in Southern Wisconsin this summer.
“Southern Wisconsin is absolutely booming,” Kammermeier said. “We got a truck going up there every day. We got a truck going to downtown Chicago every day.”