April 2020 Newsletter

April 2020 Newsletter


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New South News

Dear Friends,

We remain open across all nine of our branches in the Carolinas and Georgia. We still have certain social distancing measures in place for the safety of our associates and customers, however we’re still busy serving our customers with their construction supply and building material needs.

As we now move into the second month of the COVID-19 crisis, we are really beginning to see an impact on the construction industry. The successful and busy first quarter of 2020 has been followed by a real sense of caution and concern moving into the second quarter. Jobs that were already underway or just beginning when this crisis started continue to progress along nicely, but we are seeing a significant number  of jobs that were set to begin in the second quarter being delayed or pushed back into the third or fourth quarter. These delays have certainly impacted the flow and distribution of construction material and supplies. See below for more details.

Scrap rebar posted down in mid-April and settled at $277 per ton. This was somewhat odd with availability thin due to the virus’ impact on scrap collections, but the pending concerns of a second quarter fall in consumption has prices softening. The common thread amongst the major rebar mills in our region is concern for a slowing demand, and each mill seems to be preparing slightly differently. With so many uncontrollable factors in play, manufacturers, distributors, and consumers all seem to be taking a conservative approach and looking at the market on a week by week basis.

Wire mesh reinforcing looks to be following the same trend as rebar. Mills continue to monitor the market demand closely and are also preparing for a slow down through the second quarter. On a positive note, inventory seems to be readily available and lead times are holding strong. A four to seven-day lead time has been the standard lead time for most gauges and dimensional sizes.

The lumber market has remained stronger than anticipated through April. Demand in the southeast has not yet dropped to levels where we are seeing any major market corrections. After an initial price jump the end of March and very early April, pricing for SYP has remained fairly stable with better prices to be had on an order by order basis. Depending on the dimension and quantity, prices can vary from mill to mill slightly, but price variances for SYP #2 and #3 grade over the past few weeks have been minimal.

Poly sheeting continues to be stable. Not much has changed over the past year and poly sheeting has been one of the few consistent commodities over that period. We are starting to pay closer attention to see if the plummeting oil prices will have an effect on pricing, but currently there is no change to report.

As expected in the current market situation, we did not receive any price increase notices since the last newsletter. Manufacturers are staying conservative and are not trying to rock the boat at this time. We will update with any significant market or pricing changes as they occur.

On April 9,  BLS posted producer price indexes (PPIs) for March, calculated from prices gathered around March 10, after economic activity had plunged in China and parts of Europe but before U.S. construction activity had slowed much. AGC posted tables showing PPIs relevant to construction.

Click here for the latest update on the construction economy from Ken Simonson, the chief economist of the AGC.

“Catching up with our Customers”

New South Construction Supply launched “Catching up with our Customers” last month, a new monthly series where NSCS highlights our featured customer of the month on our newsletter, website and social media communities. Our second feature highlights NSCS customer Josh Edwards, Director of Pre-Construction at Edcon, Inc. We hope you enjoy this featured customer profile, and let us know if you want to be featured in upcoming months or have a nomination. 

– Jim Sobeck, CEO


Meet Josh Edwards, Director of Pre-Construction at Edcon, Inc.

When you talk to Josh Edwards, Director of Pre-Construction at Edcon, Inc., you immediately sense the passion for the line of work he is in. Edcon, Inc., started by Josh’s father Eddie Edwards in 1988, has been at the forefront of the school construction industry for almost three decades, and they’re only getting started.

We recently interviewed Josh, and as you’ll read below in our New South Construction Supply (NSCS) Q&A, Josh and Edcon, Inc. are committed to education. The company’s line of work is 95 percent K-12 public schools, and teaching runs deep within his family’s blood. The company’s motto is “Inspired by Education”, and they truly live out that motto at work and at home, as numerous close family members are in education themselves.

Like New South Construction Supply, Josh and Edcon take immense pride in not just their work, but also in their commitment to their employees. Edcon isn’t your typical General Contractor, as Edcon employs 40 full-time employees,  many of which have been with the company since the early 1990’s. Customers and suppliers are equally as important, too. In our Q&A you will read about Josh’s relationship with NSCS’ Jon Black, a customer/supplier relationship that quickly turned into a decade of friendship. As close friends, Jon and Josh run marathons, compete in Ironman triathlons, and now trail run together. While most of us do not find that, well, fun, this shows both of their personalities — they are resilient, dedicated and enjoy pushing themselves emotionally and physically.

NSCS invites you to read the full Q&A on Josh Edwards and to learn more about Edcon by visiting our website. Want to learn more? Josh can be reached at Josh@Edconinc.com, and you can learn more about Edcon by visiting their website at www.Edconinc.com.


Featured Manufacturers


Makers of Chemicals and Aggregates for the Concrete Industry

Access Tile

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Top manufacturer of masonry and related hand tools

Associate Profile

Chad Hornsby
Inside Sales, N.Charleston, SC

Our associate profile this month is of Chad Hornsby, and inside salesperson at our N. Charleston, SC branch. Chad was born in James Island, SC and graduated from Fort Johnson High School. He has been married for 31 years and has two sons (26 & 22), one grandchild (age 4), and another on the way in May. His hobbies are hunting, classic cars, and cooking. Prior to joining us two years ago he was with General Materials (1991-2003), Hanson/Fronterra Brick (2003-2017), and he had his own catering business for ten years, Two Fat Guys Cooking. With his extensive industry background Chad hit the ground running when he started with us and he hasn’t stopped yet.

Our leadership article this month is, Reassess Your Strategy Every Quarter During the Pandemic. We are living in unusual times so you can’t just make a plan and forget about it for a year. There are some good ideas on how to adjust your strategy as things change with the pandemic.

Reassess your strategy every quarter during the pandemic

By Dave Caffaro

There is uncertainty about exactly what follows the COVID-19 crisis phase in our daily lives, our business and the economy. Discomfort often accompanies uncertainty and may draw our thoughts to the days when everything seemed so normal.

Ironically, what we perceived as normal in the past was simply a point on a continuum of change to which we became accustomed. With this pandemic, the rate of change accelerated dramatically. The question for leaders today is, “What comes next?”

The next stage of new normal awaits being written. The economy is an aggregation of individual and organizational actions aligned with some set of objectives.

Following systemic shocks, some organizations wait until after the dust settles to interpret and take actions toward a new normal. An alternate approach is to begin defining a new normal for your business now. Here are five ideas on how to begin defining your organization’s next stage of new normal today:

  • Recast a rolling quarterly strategic plan. Operating plans established at the beginning of 2020 have been rendered irrelevant. Economic recovery will range from gradual in some sectors to accelerated in others. Take a strategic approach to recasting plans by revisiting the organization’s vision, then deconstructing objectives into a new set of priorities and actions starting from today’s adjusted baseline. Initially set sights on results through year-end 2021, distilled into six quarterly milestones and adjusting subsequent quarterly expectations as the economy moves toward a new normal.
  • Intentional discontinuation. Many organizations have reduced activities to business-critical operations only. Before assuming reactivation of all previous normal activities, take inventory of what resource investments no longer serve the business. This means identifying activities, processes, products or services that can be eliminated. By exploring questions about which activities have outlived their usefulness, leaders can free capacity to apply more effectively in the next new normal.
  • New offerings. What new needs has your organization observed with customers during the crisis phase that may be of benefit in a new normal? Throughout history, new ideas and offerings have emerged from extraordinary environments. During World War I, to help soldiers avoid being distracted by their pocket watches, manufacturers attached straps to the watch faces they produced. The idea wasn’t new, but demand for wearable timepieces grew significantly following the war, allowing forward-thinking manufacturers a meaningful long-term growth opportunity.
  • Adaptive disruption to capture transformational opportunities. Business leaders often think of disruption being initiated by a competitor or new entrant to their market. The COVID-19 event proves there are other sources of disruption. Leaders can use this unfortunate disruptor like they would an industry challenger — to examine their business models and reimagine their operating paradigms.
  • Development opportunities. Leaders have learned about the efficacy of business continuations plans through the COVID-19 crisis phase. They have also observed strengths and developmental needs of teams as the nature of customer engagement and operations adapted quickly during crisis. How can you use these observations and learnings to build a long-term development plan for your organization?

The next new normal is being defined today. This is the time to develop your plan on how your organization will navigate its next chapter.

I hope I have better news to report next month. Warmer weather is supposed to kill the virus, so I hope our sweltering summer weather gets here soon. Until next month, hang in there and thank you for your support.

Best regards,

Jim Sobeck
President & CEO 864-263-4377 (Direct Line)
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Author of The Real Business 101: Lessons From the Trenches
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