Like much of the industry, engineered wood producers are still navigating a fickle recovery in which builders are challenged by supply constraints, tight lending, and hard-to-come-by lots. Though the market is emerging from the recession, it’s still on the slow side.

“The demand is there for 1.5 million housing units. We’re not meeting that,” says Joe Elling, director of market research for APA–The Engineered Wood Association. Production is up on a year-ago basis, “but starts could be stronger if some of these supply-side constraints were not as binding,” Elling says. “I anticipate a modest improvement in the second half of the year, but it’s still going to be agonizingly slow going forward.”

For engineered lumber manufacturers and the dealers who sell their products, the slow recovery presents both challenges and opportunities. Along with the obvious—a slower return to at-peak sales—the ongoing labor shortages have created an even stronger need for product education. At the same time, those labor constraints provide even more motivation toward using engineered products that boost efficiencies and cut back on waste.

Overall, the industry has seen a positive boost in public opinion toward wood products, be they engineered or otherwise, as high-profile projects showcase their capabilities, beauty, and warmth.

“One of the biggest things in the forest products industry today that affects EWP the most is the general feeling in the world that wood is good,” says Mike McCollum, director of engineered wood business at Roseburg. “Wood is now the first choice in everybody’s eyes. Its sustainability, its efficiencies, its workability, its natural warmth, along with the fact that it is easy to design with and easy to build with…everyone has been awakened to this idea that wood is good. Then, when you take it to the next step, everything that engineered wood brings to the construction market is highlighted even more.”

From LBM Journal: