While the lumber economy is improving, it still has a long way to go to fully bounce back from the 2008 recession. For the consumer, this means cheaper prices for raw wood materials needed to build houses, make home repairs or other do-it-yourself projects.
“Oh heavens yes,” said Frank Brewster, the owner of Sun Lumber Company in Weston. “For DIY (do it yourself) or something like that, definitely, this is the time.” Hartland Planing Mill owner Steve Turner said now is a good time to build and/or remodel homes. “Locally, I’ve seen more of a trend of people remodeling their existing homes: kitchens, bathrooms, maybe adding on a greatroom,” Turner said. “There’s a lot of hardwood flooring we’re selling.”
Matt Jeffries, the manager of Dingess Lumber Co. in Belington, said there has been a fluctuation in the long-term market to the point where producers don’t know where the price will be at any given time. “It’s increased since 2008, but it’s really declined since 2014,” Jeffries said. “The prices are way off.” Brewster said the lumber economy was doing well until the 2008 recession took its toll.
“We’re still holding on, not by the skin of our teeth, but we’re still holding on,” he said. “Once that hit, we were looking up to see bottom, and we were going from week to week. We had managed to make it this far though, cutting everything that we can, and we’ve been lucky with the help of our employees and the people of the communities where we have property. We’ve been able to keep it going.”
Upshur County Economic Development Authority Executive Director Robert Hinton said that while the lumber industry could be doing better, the industry as a whole is doing well. “It’s definitely better than it was in 2009,” he added. “That’s for sure. I think the industry is continuing to be strong as we’ve gotten further and further away from the 2008-2009 housing market downturn.”