Survey Says: Lumbermen Are Feeling The COVID-19 Pinch

As part of the June issue of Timber Processing, the 2020 Sawmill Operations and Capital Expenditure Survey included a special set of questions relating directly to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which at the time of the survey mailing was still very fresh. One of the survey questions listed 10 items for lumbermen to choose any or all of as to the impact of the virus crisis on their business and actions they’ve taken. “Have enhanced employee safety measures,” received the largest response at 68%, though that figure is probably higher by now.

“We have communicated continuously with our employees and families to ease anxiety surrounding the virus,” says Richie LeBlanc, president of Hunt Forest Products/LaSalle Lumber in Louisiana. “It has been somewhat difficult to make decisions using data that becomes obsolete in a few hours. Our folks have responded admirably during the crisis.”

“One of our biggest challenges has been maintaining our employees morale and sense of well being while dealing with potentially ill employees.” comments Wes Grant, President, Cross City Lumber in Cross City, Fla. “Production efficiencies have been markedly impacted while trained operators have been out due to testing and quarantining of themselves and family members.”

Next highest on the list of items selected was “seeing significant lumber price decline” at 57%. That was followed by “applied for government payment protection loan” with 37%, and “changed hours of sawmill operation” at 34%.

A good portion of the respondents, 18%, said they had laid off employees.

Responses are from personnel representing approximately 260 sawmills across the U.S. and Canada.

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