Global competition, a slowing housing market, and shifts in the customer base have contributed to reduced demand for hardwood lumber and have increased the need for specialized services by suppliers of hardwood lumber such as sawmills or distributors. Customers of hardwood lumber suppliers also have started initiatives to reduce internal costs dramatically, frequently shifting inventories upstream of the supply chain. Given these trends, U.S. hardwood lumber suppliers face the challenge of adapting their offerings to the demand of their customers. There is a widely-held perception that hardwood lumber distributors are well equipped to supply smaller, customized orders and value-adding services. To investigate how the industry is adapting, U.S. hardwood lumber manufacturers and distributors were surveyed in 2008 and 2009. This manuscript compares the supply chain perceptions and practices of hardwood lumber manufacturers and distributors. Results demonstrate a shift to smaller order sizes and customers and a restructuring of the customer base, with hardwood sawmills selling a higher portion of their production to distributors. Also, the importance of external factors on respondents' businesses was assessed. The slowing housing market and rising energy costs were rated highly by both lumber manufacturers and distributors. Hardwood sawmills perceive hardwood lumber distributors as very selective customers who expect short lead times and a high level of flexibility.
Espinoza, Omar; Buehlmann, Urs; Bumgardner, Matthew; Smith, Bob. 2011. Manufacturers and distributors in the US hardwood lumber supply chain: Perceptions of industry trends. In: Buehlmann, Urs, ed. Proceedings of the 3rd international scientific conference on hardwood processing (ISCHP32011) I: Peer reviewed contributions; 2011 October 16-18; Blacksburg, VA. 125-134.