For this blog, Nature’s Packaging reached out to a lumber wholesaler based out of Canada within the Quebec province. The company supplies products to the wooden pallet industry as well as the fence industry.
A good lumber broker offers value added to the product: when a mill is down, he should be able to ship from another mill. He can also offer different alternatives such as softwood, aspen, hardwood as well as different grades and dimensions. Most mills are specialized and limited to a certain number of dimensions and species.
By talking to customers in many states and areas, and talking to mills in different areas, the broker has a broad view of what is happening in the market. From the log situation to demand, the broker has a global understanding to share.
Good brokers have a diversified team communicating with hundreds of customers and many suppliers. Different personalities, different contacts, different experiences bring a wider range of perspectives.
Our team talks to mills every day. We visit them on a regular basis. We are involved when it is time to look at new equipment so the production meets the customer’s requirements.
We also listen to our customers to match their needs with the mill’s capacity. Our participation in different associations keeps us well informed of the legal changes, the technological improvements, and allows us to network with equipment suppliers and help the mills and customers.
The mills need to make money. Some cut higher grade logs and produce grade lumber. Some scrag mills produce only pallet grade lumber. SPF and SYP mills produce commodities that represent 80% of their products but the pallet lumber prices can make the difference between a good year and not making it.
It is important to be aware of what is going on in the higher-grade markets because they are directly affecting industrial lumber prices. When premium, #1 & #2 and stud prices are as high as they are today, it forces the builder to use #3 grade that is usually going to the Industrial markets, making availability and prices shift very quickly.
Customers want “just in time”, they do not want inventories and mills needs cashflow. So scheduling the production, then the shipments to meet customer’s needs is an everyday challenge. Freight costs and availability change with demand and fuel costs.
Respecting the truckers and nurturing good relationships with them is as important as paying fast. Good people, good software, and great relationships are key ingredients to a high-quality logistics program.
COVID has changed our lives. Instead of traveling, we work from home, we cook more, we are building a new fence, a new deck, painting the house, building a shed…so that our “cocoon” is better and we keep busy!
Pallets move the world so your paint comes on a pallet, the screws, and nails for the deck and fence as well as many renovation products. Demand for lumber went up just as many mills were missing workers because of COVID.
Our job has been to work with our customers at trying other species and dimension, changing the ratios of 3 ½’’ vs 5 ½’’ to have a better supply. I cannot share all of our secrets but we have been supplying lumber solutions to many customers.
Some do not know what their actual cutting costs are and what their waste factor when cutting their own wood. When comparing to pre-cut lumber we can see that price is important, but the waste factor is part of the costs too.
Buying the lowest bidder can be dangerous. It is better to spread a bit and have more diversified sources. Working with a supplier when a problem happens is better than rejecting the load and leaving the other to deal with the problem.
Suppliers are as important as customers. I can have all the customers but if I do not have the lumber, I am useless. If I have all the lumber and all the customers, I still need the truckers and they need to be treated with respect too.
Finally, a good broker must be competitive but is not always the cheapest. The team of professionals provides market information, is there to find lumber solutions for you, to bring various mills, species, dimensions, and grades so you can provide the shipping platform solutions your customers need.
The sustainable standards of ISPM 15 regulations apply to recycled wood pallets and prevent them from spreading wood boring insects across international borders. These standards help ensure recycled wood pallet and crate companies do their part to protect the environment. ISPM 15 separated recycled pallets into two categories: repaired and remanufactured.
When a pallet company buys broken, heat treated, recycled pallets from their customer, most of the pallets require some repair. The pallet company brings the recycled pallets to their facility to sort through them. They fix the repairable pallets and salvage the others for parts.
Buying used pallets is like buying a used car. You could buy a reliable used car that might have had the transmission, radiator, or other parts replaced and it will still be safe and effective to drive. It’s the same car it always has been; it’s simply had a part or two replaced. In the same way, replacing the bad parts of a pallet extends the life of the pallet. ISPM 15 has two categories for recycled pallets. The first category is repaired pallets, referred to in section 4.3.2 of ISPM 15.
Repaired pallets have had up to one-third of the components replaced. This is like the new car that had its radiator replaced. Everything is still new except for that one part. However, once a pallet reaches the end of its life, it’s dismantled and the usable boards are stacked and separated for re-use on other pallets. The unusable boards are recycled into products like wood chips or sawdust for different industries.
It’s possible to make a pallet entirely from recycled boards. If a pallet has had more than one-third of its boards replaced, then ISPM 15 considers it remanufactured, referred to in section 4.3.3 of ISPM 15. This is like the car that has had its engine, transmission, and radiator replaced with parts (new or used) all sourced from different places. When a remanufactured pallet has been repaired with lumber sourced from different locations, separate rules apply. Processes need to be followed to ensure that pallet is ISPM 15 compliant and won’t spread wood-boring pests from one country to another.
The governing agency for each ISPM 15 participating country distributes a unique number to be assigned to a stamp. Each company that participates in the ISPM 15 program must clearly stamp each heat treated wood product that leaves their facility with their number. That way, the source of each wood product can be traced in case there’s a problem. Depending on the pallet’s origin, a used pallet can sometimes have more than one stamp on it to certify heat treatment. In the United States, it’s required that all previous stamps be obliterated before a pallet is heat treated. Only then can a new stamp be applied.
The language of ISPM 15 is used as a minimum requirement for all countries that participate. The agency that oversees ISPM 15 in each country has the authority to include additional standards. Put differently, the rules that apply to businesses in Canada are different than the rules that apply to businesses in the United States. The agency that oversees the Canadian ISPM 15 program is the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. In the United States, it’s the American Lumber Standards Committee. Refer to links below for more information.