Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Trends in the US hardwood lumber distribution industry: changing products, customers, and services

Informally Refereed
Authors: Urs Buehlmann, Omar Espinoza, Matthew Bumgardner, Bob Smith
Year: 2010
Type: Scientific Journal
Station: Northern Research Station
Source: Forest Products Journal. 60(6): 547-553.


Efficient and effective supply chains are the backbone of any industry, including the forest products industry. As the US secondary hardwood industry has undergone a profound transformation and large parts of the industry have moved offshore, the supply chain is adapting to these new realities. Remaining and new customers of US hardwood lumber distributors tend to be smaller and likely have a wide variety of unique needs and expectations. A survey conducted in the fall of 2008 of distributors of hardwood lumber assessed the sourcing needs and perceptions of the industry and describes the status of the industry as of 2007. The findings suggest that the US hardwood lumber industry is adapting to the new realities brought forth by the globalization of markets and slowing housing markets. Almost half of the respondents indicated that their average customer in 2007 was smaller than the average customer in 2003, and 75 percent of respondents indicated that the average order was smaller in 2007 versus 2003. To accommodate their customers, distributors added a plethora of new services, with provision of certified products being the fastest growing. Overall, the study depicts an ongoing transformation of the US hardwood lumber supply chain, where distributors are well positioned to meet the exacting specifications of numerous small and customized manufacturers.


Buehlmann, Urs; Espinoza, Omar; Bumgardner, Matthew; Smith, Bob. 2010. Trends in the US hardwood lumber distribution industry: changing products, customers, and services. Forest Products Journal. 60(6): 547-553.