In Part 1, hopefully we helped you see the quandary that African sawmills face, as a result of the unique requirements of the North American market. Whether we’re talking about 4/4 boards or 5/4 or 10/4 boards, we can expect any sizes that are not salable outside of North America to come at a higher cost or with decreased availability.
Here at J. Gibson McIlvain lumber company, we want to do more than simply educate our customers — even though we’re dedicated to and passionate about doing that! We also want to provide innovative solutions for supply-versus-demand issues such as the one surrounding thinner exotic lumber.
As the demand our customers have for thinner exotic lumber continues to increase, we have found a way to work around the dilemma facing African sawmills.
First, we highly recommend African alternatives to Genuine Mahogany. Take Sapele, for instance: as an excellent option for exterior applications, this attractive species costs about half the price of Genuine Mahogany. As the importer, we have to buy the thicker stock that is available, due to worldwide demand.
If, instead, we insist on the thicknesses our customers require, we run the risk of having to inflate prices of FAS quality boards in order to compensate for the non-clear grades we receive as a byproduct but cannot sell. Another alternative would be for us to purchase only thicker FAS lumber and resaw it, adding costs associated with both added time and labor.
Because of this difficult situation, the prices of 5/4 and 10/4 lumber are actually higher than 6/4 and 12/4 lumber. While at first, that kind of pricing seems counterintuitive, in short, you’re paying for the 6/4 or 12/4 lumber plus the labor and time required to convert it into 5/4 or 10/4 lumber.
Basically, requiring these non-standard sizes will cost you extra, whether it’s from the African sawmill or from the U.S. supplier. If you have in-house resaw capabilities or a use for common grade lumber, you might be better off purchasing the larger sizes and doing the additional labor yourself. Many find it beneficial to rely on a trusted supplier, instead.
Here at J. Gibson McIlvain, we’re willing to both educate our customers and work with them to determine where the added labor and cost will be most suitable. We can make sure you get exactly what you want, even if it costs you more than you’d prefer. If you’re willing to think (and build!) outside the box of American trends, we can definitely help you save money on high-quality lumber! But at the end of the day, we all need to understand that the basic principle of supply-and-demand will mean higher prices for uniquely North American products and that as labor increases so also does cost.
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (www.mcilvain.com) is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods.
As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums.
For more information on J. Gibson McIlvain’s lumber products and services, call Monday-Friday toll free (800) 638-9100 to speak with one of their representatives.
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