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red oak prices

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We’re seeing prices for red oak at the big flooring buyer’s lot much inline with what Ron quoted.  We’re only sawing it because we’re making beams out of the middle.  However,  our local logger still thinks red oak is made of gold I guess as he still won’t bring us grade logs for a price we can afford. But we’ve noticed we’re starting to get a few butt cut and better red oak logs in for “saw log” prices.

Around here, the big stave mill sets the price for white oak and they set it high enough to freeze us out of the market for good logs.  Our loggers have been bringing us “off brand” white oak, burr oak, post oak and such, and their top cut logs that won’t sell for stave logs.  But I think we’re seeing some improvement in that area too.  We’ve noticed a lot of white oak logs coming in with blue paint marks on them.  I asked one logger if that meant that they were culls from the stave market and he confirmed that they were.  Some were pretty nice logs so I suspect that the dry year we’re having plus red oak being down has finally filled that big void to some extent where they’re getting pickier.


Here are some 16 ' white oak logs that were stave mill culls.  They look good to us!  :o

Walnut is the big sought after log around here.  The Chinese are buying all they can in log form – maybe in lumber too.  'Corse,  I ain't got any and can't afford any.

Situation in Kentucky is pretty much as Bibby describes.

My job as mill owner is to create the widest margin possible between what I pay for logs and what I receive for the lumber, rails, sawdust, mulch etc.  I work to keep overhead and operating expense low. I have the most control over that.  I can make instant changes that affect these things.
I have a marketing plan.  I adjust that marketing plan as the calls I get change what customers want.  Last week I sold way more logs, rails and peeled poles than lumber. Thats what my customers wanted.  I am flooded with cedar because hardwood markets are down and loggers are making more money in cedar.  Therefore my ruler pulls tighter and my grading gets harder and I shut off those loggers that were selling the best to my competitors who are over stuffed too.

Most of my sales are over 100 miles from me in all directions.  Some go by UPS, some by common carrier and some trailer load.  My website is the most important marketing tool by far.

Now to red oak.
If I were a land owner, I would not sell any hardwood that is down in price at this time unless it just had to be sold.  Wood prices cycle and that cycle is unpredictable. Maple was hot in the mid 70's around here, then dived to junk status, then went to unbelieveable heights.  Red oad will rebound.  When?  If I knew that I could pick horses.

The question I must know in my business is what can I move my cedar for.  That is the same question you are asking on the red oak.  What will it sell for locally if at any price and what will it sell in other areas of the country and what will it cost to get it there?  Phones are the answer to those questions.  Can you make money with a free bunch of trees? 

Guys, we are used to hearing no.  That doesn't mean we give up.  We  keep asking, maybe we will get lucky.  If you have unused time, use it to hustle the wood.

There is one thing I do know.  A positive attitude with a can do spirit may lead to success.  A negative attitude  cannot lead to success.  There are no guarantees.  The down economy in Mi means that you must really sharpen your marketing and sales skills to come out on top.  If you believe that at some point in the future that things will improve, position yourself to take advantage.  If you think they will never improve, personally I would move.  Look what opportunties this may open up.

Keep at it Furby, check out all the angles.  Get the wood sold before cutting if you can.


Your question is the classic - I have this free resource - can I sell it? Well, usually if someone is giving it to you for free there is a reason.  ;) Now we enter into a new realm. If you are merely a technical person (i.e. a person who knows how to get it done) - run, don't walk away, from this. Since you still have stock on the shelf, I tend to think that is you.

Some people are advising you to go out and become a marketer. Fine - sure, if that is what you like to do. But, understand this - it is a skill. Knowing how to sell things and make a market is a skill. I aways find it interesting that people will say "You need to know how to cut up a log" (which is true) and then assume a person won't have a steep learning curve learning how to market. Don't underestimate this. And, you better enjoy selling things too. The reason that sales people make such large commissions is very simple - IT IS HARD!

There are things that if you build it, they will come, because there is a demand. There is very little work necessary on your part to sell. But, to process wood in a depressed market? I can't see it.

The eBay suggest is interesting - go out to ebay and search and see if someone else is selling wood this way and what they are selling for. The further away your customers - the more you will have to charge for shipping. And since wood isn't exactly weightless - this could make your price MORE than they could buy at a Big Box store - depending on various factors of course.

Just random thoughts Furby - but I wouldn't touch it unless you had a customer in hand. 

That's much of what was churning around in my mind. Then there seems to be brush to be rid of, which costs time and money as well.  ::) Seems like the proverbial carrot, but you have to do this, and this and this besides.


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