A Look at the Lumber Supply Chain
Many people ask me about where their lumber comes from. Specifically, how did it get here and who/what touched it before I pulled it off the rack at my lumber yard or big box store. This episode takes a high level view of the journey of that board all the way back to the forest.
The story will vary depending on how far away the wood comes from and how many oceans and international borders it crosses. The story can also change depending on how the wood is bought. In larger quantities, some middlemen can be cut from the equation but these days maintaining large inventories isn't done as much so small volume orders are pretty common.
In the end you may be shocked to hear just how many people were involved to get that board from forest to lumber rack. More importantly, just how much money and labor was involved which drives up the price of that board you just bought. We all wish lumber was cheaper but perhaps you will begin to understand the MANY factors that contribute to the prices at your local lumber yard.
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I just have a quick question. You speak a lot about having to break apart packs of lumber and how that creates more work for the lumber yard. What is the average size of one of these packs?
It varies pretty dramatically depending on the type of lumber yard. Essentially inventory is rarely done board by board but instead there is a SKU assigned to a pack of lumber. Where I work that is usually 500 or 1000 board feet. But that pack will be “broken” when an order is filled that is less than that amount and a new SKU has to be created with the remainder or transformed pack of lumber. Physically the pack is broken because they are often banded together. So “average” is hard to answer as you can walk through one of our sheds and find packs of lumber from 80 bf up to 1200 bf. Retail yards will be very much the same. Its an inventory issue more than anything.