Ohio lumber industry going strong, not like you might think

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MILLERSBURG, Ohio (WCMH)–Lumber prices have soared during the past year. More recently, they have fluctuated downward and are still twice as high during this time in 2020.

The wood prices are for soft lumber. These are the 2x4s and 2x6s that are used for the structural part of a building or decking. This wood comes from the pine forests from the southeastern and western United States, and Canada.

Yoder Lumber in Millersburg, Ohio has been operating a full capacity to keep up with demand.

“Business right now is booming,” said Trent Yoder who is the Chief Operating Officer at Yoder Lumber.

(Photo by Tony Mirones) MILLERSBURG, Ohio (WCMH)–Trent Yoder points to a map of Ohio counties and explains the species of hardwood that come from each.

Yoder Lumber is a third generation owner operator wood mill that opened in 1944.

“We’re not the softwood industry that you see on the news that is projecting,” Yoder said.

The Midwest, like Ohio, Michigan, and Appalachia, are hardwood forests. This wood is not used to build homes. Instead, the material is used to finish a house with flooring, handrails, cabinets, and furniture.

“Ohio’s forests are over 97 percent hardwood species,” said Brad Perkins, the Executive Director Ohio Forestry Association, Inc. (OFA).

OFA is a trade organization that represents all the sides of the lumber industry in Ohio. From education to land management.

“The year prior to the pandemic, the business wasn’t in as great as shape,” said Perkins. “We actually had sawmills that shut down.”

(Photo by Tony Mirones) MILLERSBURG, Ohio (WCMH)–Yoder Lumber employee sorts cut-wood and trims it to size for further processing.

Those other mills shutting down has benefitted Yoder.

“We’re tied more to houses and housing than we’ve ever been. If housing goes up, we generally have an increase in the demand of our products,” said Yoder.

The hardwood industry pricing is not connected to the softwood futures. Instead, it is based on supply and demand. Yoder keeps his main product prices down by offering byproducts.

  • Sawdust goes to farmers for animal bedding or turned into log bricks for fireplaces
  • Tree bark goes to landscapers for mulch
  • The mill will use what it cannot sell in the boiler to heat the facility in the winter
(Photo by Tony Mirones) MILLERSBURG, Ohio (WCMH)–Yoder Lumber employee takes material off of the assembly line.

“If we don’t have those markets and it has to go to the landfill, or we just don’t have a market for it, what we consider our good product would actually go up in price,” said Yoder.

Yoder has products coming and going. Lumber can take as much as half a year from when technicians receive the wood to when the wood is ready to be shipped to manufacturers. There has been no slow down of production here in Millersburg.

“We’ve been blessed this year to have a really good year and a really good market,” said Yoder.

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