June 2021 Newsletter


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New South News

Dear Friends,   

We continue to live in unusual times in the construction industry. Price increases, truck shortages, freight surcharges, and not enough drivers all combined to make for rampant price increases and long lead times.  Most all our items remain in stock due to our placing orders months ago for most of the products we sell, as we largely saw this coming. 

For a detailed look at commodity prices, see below:

The supply chain for most products used within the construction industry continues to be in upheaval. Price increase notices continue to be announced almost daily. Many commodity-based items are now being priced at time of shipment, with purchase orders being submitted and taken without definitive pricing. Availability is vastly more important than price at this point in the year. 

Rebar once again saw a price increase in June. On June 11th, two major mills announced increases. One mill increased prices by $80 per ton and the other mill by $50 per ton. By Monday, June 14, two other mills followed suit and pushed through $80 per ton increases. This now puts rebar at an all time high with expectations for the trend to continue. This feels much like the way the lumber run began, so prepare for tight supply and rising prices to continue through the summer. Multiple diameter rollings at the mills are already booked for July and August. 

The massive wire mesh and wire rod availability issue remains a major problem. While the mills are producing material as fast as possible, the shortage of available raw materials to manufacture continues to stifle production. Mesh mills are currently providing 16-17 week lead times on product from the time purchase orders are placed. Distributors are currently having to plan and procure materials that will not arrive until September or October. These lead times continue to push out further each and every week as purchase orders continue to come in. It does not appear this problem will be resolved any time soon. Expectations are for wire mesh shortages to continue through the remainder of the year and possibly beyond. 

Polyethylene sheeting also saw an increase at the beginning of the month. The cost of resins, raw materials, and shipping have forced poly manufacturers to push through another increase. The June increase is in addition to the increase that took effect in May. A combined total value for the May and June increases are roughly $0.10 cents per pound on all poly products. Production times do appear to be improving though, with lead times running 4 or 5 weeks on single size full truckload orders. Mixed sizes are typically taking a week or two longer to arrive. 

One commodity that is seeing some pricing reprieve is lumber. Lumber pricing crested early last month and has been steadily softening over the past month. Availability is becoming much less of an issue and demand for product needed instantly has calmed. Lead times are averaging two to three weeks, but in some cases, material has shipped within a week. 

The gulf between contractors’ costs and pricing widened again in May. The producer price index (PPI) for nonresidential building construction—a measure of the price that contractors say they would charge to build a fixed set of buildings—increased 0.5% from April and 2.8% year-over-year (y/y) since May 2020, while the PPI for material and service inputs to construction industries jumped 4.3% and 24.3%, respectively, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on June 15. An index that measures the price of goods inputs to all construction soared 4.6% for the month and 24.3% y/y; both increases were the largest in the 35-year history of the series.

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

For some more exciting news, I am proud to announce we were once again selected as one of the Best Places to Work in South Carolina. We strive to create a workplace that empowers and motivates our associates to give great service to our customers. I hope you feel you receive great superior service when doing business with us.

Catching up with our Customers

In this month’s segment of Catching up with our Customers, we hear from Jason Fisher, Senior Vice President of Operations at Roebuck Buildings Co., Inc. Established in 1947 by John C. Anderson alongside a group of investors, Roebuck Buildings was focused on the pre-engineered building industry. Over the years, Roebuck has changed with the market, now designing, and constructing everything from precast concrete, metal industrial buildings, as well as commercial, automotive, education, religious, and healthcare projects just to mention a few. Roebuck’s wide range of experienced personnel is what drives the company forward, providing value to customers and creating quality products and services which is one of the company’s top priorities. Learn more about the remarkable jobs Roebuck Buildings, Co., Inc. is currently working on, their core values and what those mean to them, and the “why” behind their “Build Better” company motto by reading the full Q/A here.


Featured Manufacturers

 

Makita

Manufacturer of power tools, drill bits, blades, and other equipment

 

Hohmann & Barnard

Provider of quality and innovative products that architects, engineers and contractors have come to rely on since 1933

Husqvarna

A Leader in Concrete Cutting Tools and Accessories

 


Associate Profile

Bobby Webber
Sales Manager, Atlanta

This month's associate profile is of Bobby Weber, an Atlanta-based Sales Manager. Bobby was born in Saginaw, Michigan where he graduated from Heritage High School. Bobby moved to Florida after high school where he began a 15-year career with another building material distributor. He started in the warehouse and ended up in a dual role as branch manager and outside sales at the same time. He is married and has three daughters, ages 12, 9 and 7. In his downtime, he likes to camp with his family, movie nights with his girls and attending dirt track races. Bobby has been a great addition to our Atlanta team!


This month’s management article is entitled, Plan Regular 1: 1 Meetings. I have been a fan of 1:1 meetings for over 40 years and think they are one of the best tools available to a manager. I hope you enjoy it.

Plan Regular 1:1 Meetings

By Naphtali Hoff

To unleash the potential of the people you manage, you must engage and bond with each person individually. There simply is no hack or shortcut for building real connections.

That’s why it is critical that, in addition to morning huddles, you need to plan regular one-to-one meeting time, or 1:1s, with individual team members to check in on a more personal manner.

As a manager, you can use 1:1s to ask your team members about their well-being, their experience working with the team and their career goals. You can also get updates on their progress and any challenges they may be experiencing with projects so that you can course correct as needed.

Folks pay attention to those things their leaders also pay attention to. To get what you want from others, you need inspect what you expect of them. Beyond that, 1:1s offer dedicated time for mentoring and coaching, helping to bring out the absolute best in your people.

Other important benefits of 1:1s include:

  • They provide a routine opportunity for you, as a manager, to assess the parts (your individual employees) that lead to the productive whole (your team.)
     
  • Each 1:1 is an opportunity to clarify the goals of the organization and your performance expectations for each person.
     
  • 1:1s help managers build a trusting relationship with their employees by getting to know them as people, not just employees.

At the 1:1, ask your go-to question(s) (more on that below,) stay silent until your employee has the chance to answer, listen with the intent to understand and not to cross-examine, and then reward the candor you receive. Remember that dedicated 1:1 conversations help create the space and trust to ensure you know what’s on people's minds — and take actions to keep them happy and productive.

Lest you think of 1:1s as exclusively manager-driven, I highly recommend that employees be asked to share their talking points with their manager prior to the meetings. This allows the employee to also guide the conversation and ensure that matters that are top of mind for them get discussed.

1:1s should always be conducted face-to-face. That said, when in-person is not possible, hold them anyway. If some or all your employees in your organizations work remotely, it’s important to get as close to a face-to-face conversation as possible.

1:1s are supposed to build strong relationships, which means that leaders must be fully present by giving the other person their full attention. During your meetings, reduce distractions to an absolute minimum. This includes turning off notifications on your devices. It goes without saying that you should come prepared and start on time.

Once you’ve finished your meeting, summarize the most important outcomes and share them to eliminate misunderstandings. Summaries also make it easier to pick up the ball in the next 1:1 meeting. As a manager or employee, you can also just take private notes to keep track of how the 1:1s went and to capture key takeaways for future reference.

1:1s come in all shapes and sizes. Some people meet for an hour weekly. Others for 30 minutes twice monthly. What matters most is creating the rhythm and honoring it consistently. Regardless of length and frequency, making time for an individual says you genuinely care about them as a person.

Once you have a solid meeting routine in place, consider adding some spice by leaving the office every now and then. Head outside for a walk. Go to a cafe. Be creative. No matter where you meet, pick a place where you and your report feel comfortable speaking openly.

You might be thinking that 1:1s sound all nice and good, but if you don’t have the time as it is to get things done, especially now with morning huddles to run, how can you possibly add this to your plate? The answer is that this is a case of spending time to free up time.

1:1s help managers avoid overwhelm by ensuring the team is focused on the right task. Taking a few minutes to coach employees on how to move forward frees up your time to focus intently on your own work with the confidence that you won’t be putting out fires later.

To recap, 1:1s are the only forum where manager and reports can engage in an honest, private conversation with each other about what’s really going on, professionally and personally. It is critical that you make the time for them.

What to discuss
If you are meeting to set worker and team objectives, consider using the following talking points.

  • A recap on why and how to set objectives.
  • Review of previous objectives.
  • Company and team priorities.
  • Current objectives and personal development goals.
  • Next steps.

Here are some questions to ask:

  1. What’s on your mind this week?
  2. How happy were you this past week?
  3. How productive were you this past week?
  4. What feedback do you have for me?
  5. How are you doing? How did the past week/month go?
  6. What would you like to talk about today?
  7. What are you proud of? Anything blocking you?
  8. Do you need any support? How can I help you?
  9. Anything else you’d like to talk about today?
  10. “What are the most important things we should discuss today? And are there any roadblocks or ways how we can better support each other?”

That’s it for this month. I hope the materials shortages aren’t delaying any of your jobs. If they are, let us know and we’ll see if we can help. Enjoy the summer!

Best regards,

Jim Sobeck
President & CEO 864-263-4377 (Direct Line)
jim.sobeck@newsouthsupply.com

Main Office/Branch: Greenville, SC

Other Branches in:

Columbia | Charleston | Myrtle Beach | Hilton Head | Greensboro | Raleigh | Charlotte | Atlanta

Connect with us: Instagram I Facebook I LinkedIn I Twitter | YouTube

Author of The Real Business 101: Lessons From the Trenches. To get your copy see below:

For Smashwords (eBook version for Kindle, iPad, Nook) click here
For direct link to Amazon site (Kindle and print version) click here

May 2021 Newsletter

>> New South eNews
New South Construction Supply

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New South News

Dear Friends,

We are living in unusual times for sure. Price increases keep coming, product shortages are delaying some jobs, and to top it off, there is a trucking shortage. This is a perfect storm that is creating challenges during unprecedented boom times in the construction industry. Thus far we have been able to remain in stock on all our key products with only a few rare exceptions. If we have inconvenienced you by being out of something momentarily, I apologize. The good news is that lumber prices are finally falling and manufacturers who didn’t build inventory when COVID first hit have been running around the clock and have at least partially recovered.

A detailed look at pricing trends follows below:

The construction materials market continues to be impacted by increasing prices and supply chain issues. Material shortages and scarce trucking availability have only increased the strains seen within the industry. As a whole, the industry appears healthy and striving with a boom of demand and job starts, but the elephant in the room is how long can it last under the current conditions?

Rebar saw a $40.00 per ton increase pushed through on April 29th by one major manufacturer. Within 24 hours, the two other major manufacturers in our region followed suit. While this increase was not shocking to the market, it did come earlier than what was originally anticipated. The increase seems to have had the mill’s desired effect, with orders surging in to cover summer work and beat any potential of further increases. With the recent surge of inbound orders comes availability issues. What moderate inventory that was available at the mills was quickly scooped up and buying off of future rebar rollings became the norm. New inventory will begin to hit the market as these rollings are complete. Expectations are for rebar inventory to remain tight throughout the summer, especially if the high demand continues. 

Wire mesh reinforcing continues to struggle. The world-wide shortage of wire rod is still having a huge impact on overall mesh inventory. Mills are running and producing as much as possible, but lack of raw materials used to make mesh is slowing overall production. Wire mesh rollings set for early June have already been pushed out weeks and lead times are still projecting at three to four months after time of purchase. 

Polyethylene sheeting maybe the most stable of our four major commodity items. While pricing has not subsided from the spring increases, production and lead times are holding steady. Spot market purchases are running at roughly a month’s lead times, with some lower costs being presented on longer lead time and future purchases.  While this isn’t near where the poly market was this time last year, some form of stability has been good to see. 

The lumber roller coaster continues on. Last month we spoke about how lumber was in a rapid climb… while not in a rapid decline, lumber seems to have peaked and started moving back the other way. More loads are becoming available and production is remaining strong. Activity on the broker’s side has picked up as they try to move high priced loads bought on the upswing before the market crested. Prices remain high, but lumber futures, having trended down for almost a week, give signs that the lumber market may have reached the peak.

The producer price index (PPI) for nonresidential building construction—a measure of the price that contractors say they would charge to build a fixed set of buildings—increased 1.2% from March and 2.3% year-over-year (y/y) since April 2020, while the PPI for material and service inputs to new nonresidential construction jumped 1.5% and 17.6%, respectively, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on May 13.

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

Catching up with our Customers

In this month’s segment of Catching up with our Customers, we highlight Exterior Expressions, Inc., a turnkey masonry company that’s skilled in every type of masonry work, including structural and architectural block, brick, stone, and cast stone. In 2013, Jason Overly, and Eric and Robert “Bobby” Allen III became owners of Exterior Expressions, growing the company by expanding into Charlotte, NC and Charleston, SC. Learn about the impressive projects Exterior Expressions has been a part of, their noble company motto, and the company’s core values by reading the full Q&A here.


Featured Manufacturers

CON-DRI

Premier Supplier of Reinforced Poly, Debris Netting, Wood Chamfer, and Vapor Barriers

Access Tile

The ultimate solution in detectable warning systems

Access Tile is the result of responding to a market demand for a better solution to detectable warning tiles at a cost-effective price. With over 20 years of proven manufacturing experience in detectable warnings, Access Tile’s improved design features will exceed industry expectations from specifier to installer.

Grip Rite

Premier Supplier of tools, fasteners, sealants and adhesives


Associate Profile

Phil Jones
Sales Manager, Atlanta

This month’s associate profile is of Phil Jones, one of our Atlanta-based sales managers. Phil was born in Fort Lauderdale, FL and is a graduate of Charlotte High School in Punta Gorda, FL. Phil had a full academic and athletic scholarship to the University of Florida until he blew out his knees and couldn’t play baseball, so he decided not to attend college. Instead, he chose to pursue a career in the building supply business. Phil joined us this past March after 17 years with three other supply companies. Phil is single but has been in a long-time relationship for the last 6+ years. He has no children, but he does have three dogs. During his downtime he enjoys working with his hands and doing projects around the house and remodeling jobs. He enjoys being outside in nature so when he has time, he likes to ride his Harley to clear his mind and relax. Phil hit the ground running when he started with us in Atlanta and is the only new salesperson I can remember to have a sale ship to a new customer on his first day. Welcome aboard, Phil!


Our leadership article this month is titled Traits of Great Leaders. What sets apart a great leader from a not-so-great leader? Read this article to find out.

Traits of Great Leaders

By Howard Shore

Consider all the leaders you have encountered in government, schools, jobs and organizations. How many of them have you thought of as excellent or even above average?

Recently, I have been pondering why there are so few contemporary leaders I admire and perceive as great. What surprises me is that while they may be hardworking, determined, wealthy, smart and considered successful in many ways, I still do not see them as great leaders.

With so many books written and courses offered on leadership and leadership training, we still lack great leadership everywhere. The books have great content, and the training was valuable, yet something is missing! What’s become evident is that we may be focusing on the wrong attributes. Furthermore, there is no single, recognized standard as to what it means to be a great leader! You can go through the motions and activities of leadership and still fail as a leader.

Some people believe leadership is a title. But we do not need a title to lead, and we can have a title and not be an effective leader. This was well-illustrated by the high school students from Parkland, Fla., after the horrific mass shooting that occurred in 2018. Many students took leadership into their own hands and had a significant impact on our nation. The fact is that one can lead every day of their life.

Some people believe great leadership is about achieving outcomes. However, the focus on results has caused many leaders to go to great lengths to produce them at any cost. Notable examples in recent times are the Wells Fargo fake accounts, Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme and Cambridge Analytica’s use of our records on Facebook. These are extreme cases, but to what extent do outcomes outweigh someone’s impact on others and society? Where does personal conduct come to present itself? Think about Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein.

We need to place weight on how leaders affect the trust and confidence of others along the way as we measure their accomplishments. While results are essential, we must place equal or greater importance on how one obtained the results, how that leader has impacted others, and how they have conducted themselves — both publicly and privately.

After evaluating hundreds of leaders, I identified the critical attribute of some great ones: Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher and Warren Buffett. We are far more fascinated by them as people than by their accomplishments and the impact they have had on society. Our interest has more to do with how they conducted themselves over a lifetime. We call this character! They are not perfect, and each has had missteps and done things people disagree with, but these are people of tremendous character.

Let me share the five character traits I look for in leaders to define them as great. I think you will agree that Lincoln, Mandela, Thatcher and Buffett demonstrate these.

The first trait is integrity. Do the right thing always. Integrity is being able to put your self-interests aside and take the right action. Too many people choose their own interests without hesitation and then act surprised by the suggestion that anyone else would consider another choice. I tell my team members not to do anything they would be embarrassed to read about on the front page of a newspaper or on social media.

The second character trait for great leaders is humility. Be humble and curious; it is essential. People who lack humility think that only an elite few, if any, have contributed to their success. Great leaders realize that their success is a consequence of efforts by many others, if not all, the people in their lives. When you are humble, you continually examine others’ ideas and methods because you know you can always get better. To me, this is quite possibly the most potent character trait.

The third character trait for great leaders is expressing care. Show everyone that they are special. You must care for others; everyone deserves it. Too many leaders believe they are entitled to be cared for, but when it comes to giving care, they dole it out as if there is a class system, and then are surprised by the repercussions. Great leaders have the extraordinary ability to put themselves in the place of another, to empathize with what others are feeling and to understand others’ motives and desires. Weak leaders are oblivious to other points of view — nor do they care about them.

The fourth character trait is consistency. Be reliable and predictable. When you have someone in your life you find unreliable and unpredictable, someone who has been known to demonstrate erratic behavior, how does that make you feel? Dealing with someone whose response is inconsistent causes stress and disharmony. Imagine spending every day consumed with worry about what the leader is going to do. So much time is wasted discussing what these people have done or might do next; it is unproductive. But when someone gives and keeps his or her word, is reliable and predictable, it allows you to feel free to operate at full capacity, be creative and confident, and reach your full potential.

The fifth character trait is influence. Have a positive impact on others. This last trait is important because it demonstrates that a leader is there to serve others, not themself. Poor leaders believe that others are there to help them. They try to figure out how to use people to their advantage.

Influence is the ultimate superpower. Great leaders go big or go home. Their influence is not just on a small team. They impact their communities and perhaps the world.

A person’s character is the only way to measure great leadership. Earlier in the chapter, I mentioned that we all fulfill multiple roles. Every employee may have to act as a leader at a given time. Therefore, we all must demonstrate good character. The beautiful thing is that we can choose whether we want to have integrity, be respectful, have humility, be consistent, be influential — or not. In every interaction, we have a choice.

Lincoln, Mandela, Thatcher, and Buffett spent lifetimes choosing to demonstrate these traits; there is no reason you cannot make the same choices. Managers must set an example for their subordinates!


In closing, I once again urge you to plan your material requirements far in advance of what was the norm in the past. I suggest that you buy out your jobs as soon as they are firm to avoid price increases and shortages. Until things get back to normal, enjoy the nice summer weather and the strong construction economy.

Best regards,

Jim Sobeck
President & CEO 864-263-4377 (Direct Line)
jim.sobeck@newsouthsupply.com

Main Office/Branch: Greenville, SC

Other Branches in:

Columbia | Charleston | Myrtle Beach | Hilton Head | Greensboro | Raleigh | Charlotte | Atlanta

Connect with us: Instagram I Facebook I LinkedIn I Twitter | YouTube

Author of The Real Business 101: Lessons From the Trenches.

To get your copy see below:

For Smashwords (eBook version for Kindle, iPad, Nook) click here
For direct link to Amazon site (Kindle and print version) click here

April 2021 Newsletter

>> New South eNews
New South Construction Supply
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New South News

Dear Friends,

The construction economy continues to boom and with warmer weather upon us we expect it to get even stronger over the spring and summer months. We remain busy at all nine branches, and here are some highlights from the past month across the Carolinas and Georgia:

  • Our tilt up business continues to grow by leaps and bounds. We added nine tilt up jobs to our backlog in March alone. Our first quarter tilt up sales were 5X all of last year!
  • Our backlog of business is now at an all time high.
  • For the twelfth year, we were a sponsor of the PGA Tour’s Heritage golf tournament April 12-18. We got to spend time with a lot of customers and suppliers in a casual, fun environment.
  • We added two more experienced outside salespeople in Atlanta as well as another rebar estimator/detailer.

Within the building materials industry, the biggest news we’re seeing right now is around material prices and lengthening lead times, and in my 45 years in this business, I’ve never seen such a demand/supply imbalance. We will keep you posted in these newsletters or via our social media channels if projects end up being delayed or even canceled across the U.S. due to these imbalances.

See below for a closer look at pricing trends for the major products we distribute:

The wild world of the construction materials market continues into April. Supply chain issues, high summer demand, and raw material availability all having major impacts on the price and movement of goods. See below on how all these factors are impacting a multitude of products within the construction industry.

The greatest impacts currently on the price of rebar are overall market demand and transportation costs. Market demands have continued to rise, and expectations are for that to continue as we move into the busy season. Mills are reporting large backlogs with limited availability of sitting inventory. While pricing has remained firm over the past month, if availability becomes an issue, we can expect pricing to rise as a result. The other impacts currently affecting rebar are rising transportation costs and a truck shortage. As a result, one major mill has implemented a 7% increase on freight effective May 1st. This increase will be effective on all purchase orders shipped on or after May 1st regardless of when the purchase order was submitted.

Putting it lightly… the supply chain of wire mesh reinforcing has been decimated over the past two months. Both domestic and international wire rod shortages have crippled the flow of reinforcing mesh into the market. Shortages have been so impactful that multiple mills have had to shut down machines due to the lack of wire rod needed to produce both sheets and rolls. Even with the availability of mesh being constrained, demand for mesh continues to rise. Mill backlogs are massive and lead times are stretching out to over 12 weeks in some cases. This issue does not look to be resolved any time soon and expectations are for the wire mesh market to remain in a chaotic state for the foreseeable future.

The polyethylene sheeting inventory and supply chain also remains constrained. While mills seem to be back up and running at full capacity, the downtime from the storms in South Texas in February is still having an impact. Lead times are slightly better than where they were last month but are still running in the 8 – 10-week range. While we expect inventory to remain tight in the short-term, poly inventory and availability should bounce back quicker than that of wire mesh mentioned above.

Lumber continues to be a roller coaster. While experiencing a few weeks of relative stability, the lumber market is once again in a rapid climb. Lumber again posted up this week and settled anywhere from 40% to 80% up depending on species and size over the prior week’s numbers. High demand and limited inbound inventory are driving this increase. 2×4’s and 2×8’s are still fairly available on the open market, but 2×10’s and larger sizes are becoming less and less available. When these larger sizes do become available, loads are being bought quickly with price being less of factor. There are some opinions in the industry that the lumber market will turn over by the third or fourth quarter this year as mills catch up on production, but in the short term, prices are expected to continue to rise.

The gap between input costs for construction and contractors’ bid prices widened further in March. The producer price index (PPI) for nonresidential building construction—a measure of the price that contractors say they would charge to build a fixed set of buildings—increased 0.5% from February and 1.7% year-over-year (y/y) since March 2020, while the PPI for material and service inputs to new nonresidential construction jumped 2.7% and 12.4%, respectively, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported today. An index that measures the price of goods inputs to all construction soared 3.5% for the month and 12.9% y/y, the largest increases in the 35-year history of the series. AGC posted tables and charts 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

In this month’s segment of Catching Up with our Customers, we’re speaking with Mark Hood, President and CEO of Hood Construction. Founded in 1986, Hood Construction is a full-service construction management and general contracting firm that services a variety of different industries. They have also received awards and recognition for their exemplary service and attention to safety protocols. Learn more about Hood Construction’s dedication to their clients, commitment to safety on the job site, and cohesive company culture by reading the Q&A here.


Featured Manufacturers

 

Sika/Scofield

The #1 Ranked Brand Name in Decorative Concrete Color, Texture and Performance Systems

SpecChem

Makers of Chemicals and Aggregates for the Concrete Industry

DuPont

Premier Supplier of Insulations, Sealants, and Weatherization Products


 


Associate Profile

Beverly Canady
Project Tracking Specialist, Greenville

This month's associate profile is of Beverly Canady, our Project Tracking Specialist, based out of our Greenville, SC branch. Prior to joining us in July 2020, she worked at Westside Building Material, Anaheim, CA (2009-2020), L&W Supply, Orange, CA (2002-2008) and Rew Materials, Lenexa, KS (1998-2002). Originally from Louisiana, Bev attended college at Louisiana Tech and Northwestern State University. Bev has three grown children and eight grandchildren. She is an Animal Rights Activist and enjoys trap shooting, fly fishing, and traveling. Bev has never met a stranger and enjoys getting to know NSCS customers and learning all about their jobs. We are thrilled to have Bev on our team!


Our leadership article this month is my recent column in the Upstate Business Journal on the benefits of being active in trade associations. Click here to read the article.


That’s all for this month. Remember to plan for longer lead times than in the past for your material needs and factor in higher prices or add an escalation clause to your proposals until price increases abate some.
 

Best regards,

Jim Sobeck
President & CEO 864-263-4377 (Direct Line)
jim.sobeck@newsouthsupply.com
Connect with us: Twitter | YouTube | Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram

Author of The Real Business 101: Lessons From the Trenches
Get your copy below.
For Smashwords (eBook version for Kindle, iPad, Nook) click here
For direct link to Amazon site (Kindle and print version) click here

March 2021 Newsletter


>> New South eNews
New South Construction Supply
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New South News

Dear Friends,

There has been a lot of good news since my February letter. First, Congress passed another Covid-19 relief bill, this one for $1.9 trillion. This will “juice” the economy and most economists have adjusted their GDP estimates for 2021 upwards as high as 6.9%, the highest in many years. Congress is also edging closer to an infrastructure bill, which if passed, will further stimulate the construction economy. Winter is over and drier, warmer weather is now upon us. All these things add up to a very positive outlook for construction.

The only dampening effect is all the prices increases we’ve been seeing. Read on to learn more about announced increases for the main products we sell.

Most manufacturers of construction products pushed through some form of price increase in March if not already done so in February. Construction commodity goods were not immune either and also saw numerous price adjustments.

Rebar once again saw an increase in early March. All three major mills in the Southeast announced a $40 per ton increase on March 9th and March 10th. Raw material shortages and scrap metal again posting up $50 per ton in March were given as the reasons for the increase. As demand for rebar remains high moving into Spring and Summer, expectations are for this price increase to stick. The most recent increase continues the uncertainty in the market and has buyers once again scrambling to make purchases to cover current and future work.

Wire mesh reinforcing also saw increases in March. An initial price increase was pushed out in early March by all major mills and was thought to be the only expected one to occur for the month. Roughly three weeks later another price increase was announced by one major mill with the others holding tight. The remaining mills are not expected to hold current pricing for long and we expect the remaining mills to follow in the coming weeks. Scrap pricing and a nation-wide shortage of wire rod used to manufacture reinforcing mesh are causing the volatility and climbing prices.

Lumber may be the one commodity that has not seen as much volatility in March. While pricing remains high (and slightly climbing), the large day-to-day increases have not occurred as frequently. Domestic production is still struggling to keep up with demand, but an influx of import material has helped to subsidize some of the high demand. As demand remains high, the expectation for lumber prices in the short term is to for them to continue to increase. The outlook for pricing looks more like a gradual incline rather than the hockey stick style increase we saw in the fall of 2020 and earlier this year.

The product seeing the most impact in March was polyethylene sheeting. The recent winter storms in Texas completely upended the resin and poly production in that region. Not only was manufacturing time lost due to the storm, but equipment and some facilities experienced major damage. These damages and production delays have caused multiple poly manufacturers and resin manufacturers to declare force majeure on many of their products. Poly sheeting pricing has seen increases of almost 20% in just the past month with more expected to follow. We expect poly sheeting pricing and supply to be a major issue for the remainder of 2021.

Below are more construction material manufacturers that have announced price increases.

OCM Inc. has announced a price increase effective March 15th, 2021. This ranged from 7% to 10% on all steel products. Global supply chain issues on both raw materials and finished goods are mentioned as the need for the price increase.

Prime Resins has announced that they will be implementing a product “surcharge” as a temporary measure to combat rapid price increases on raw materials. They anticipate the temporary surcharge to last roughly 4 to 6 months and should reduce over that time period.

Tremco Inc. has also moved forward with a temporary surcharge on all products excluding their silicones, ERP, and PUMA products. Tremco expects the 7.5% surcharge to be effective for 90 days, but all depends on market conditions.

Pecora Corporation implemented their temporary surcharge of 6.5% on all latex, epoxy, polyurethane, hybrid, and butyl products. Silicone sealants are currently exempt from this surcharge. The lack of raw materials in the supply chain is listed as the driving force behind the surcharge.

SpecChem announced a price increase on March 10th. Immediate price increases on epoxy and polyurea products (10% increase), cure and seal solvent products (10% increase), and freight surcharges are all now in effect. The increases in freight costs and limited raw goods are the causes for the increase.

Quad-Lock has announced a minimum 7% increase on all Quad-Lock and Quad-Deck products effective April 15th. All current orders must be shipped by this date or are subject to repricing.

Nomaco also released a price increase set for April 15th. All orders placed before April 15th for immediate shipment will have old pricing honored. Any order placed after April 15th will see a 7% increase on the Nomaflex, SOFRod, HBR, HBR XL, SOF Seal, SOF Seal Plus, and Fastflex products.

DuPont (formerly Dow Chemical) announced an 8% increase on extruded polystyrene (Styrofoam) and a 5% increase on ISO that will begin on April 15th. All orders placed before April 2nd, with a ship date prior to April 15th will invoice at old pricing. DuPont also announced a 12-15% increase on their Spray Polyurethane products beginning April 12th. All orders shipping on or after this date will be subject to the price increase.

Prosoco announced a price increase effective April 1st. Products impacted by this price increase include Clean & Protect Products (7.5% increase), Concrete Flooring Products (7.5% increase), and Building Envelope Products (4.5% increase). All orders must be placed before April 1st and ship prior to April 15th to be invoiced at old pricing.

One year after the pandemic struck, construction firms are experiencing soaring materials costs, widespread supply-chain problems, and continuing project deferrals and cancellations, according to a survey AGC released on March 11. The producer price index (PPI) for nonresidential building construction—a measure of the price that contractors say they would charge to build a fixed set of buildings—increased 0.3% from January, while the PPI for inputs to new nonresidential construction jumped 1.9%, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on March 12. AGC posted tables and charts showing PPIs relevant to construction. Since hitting a low in April, the nonresidential building “bid price” PPI has edged up only 0.5%, while PPIs for new-construction inputs have soared 12.8% for nonresidential and 13.9% for residential.
 
Click here for the latest update on the construction economy from Ken Simonson, the chief economist of the AGC.

Catching up with our Customers

In this month’s segment of “Catching up with our Customers”, we catch up with Garett Harvey, president of CBM Concrete. Garett first began his journey in the concrete industry right after college, working at Savannah Hardscapes where he found his appreciation for concrete work. Garett then moved on to create Outdoor Accents, a company that had concrete, masonry, and decorative concrete services.

After several years, Outdoor Accents began focusing strictly on concrete projects which led to the creation of CBM Concrete and brought the company to where it is today. Learn more about Garett’s favorite jobs, his regard for “large/small” businesses, and the special meaning behind the CBM name by reading the full Q&A on our website.


Featured Manufacturers

 

Makita

Manufacturer of power tools, drill bits, blades, and other equipment

OCM

Provider of concrete forming supplies and reinforcement products

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/f50bf108ac23c82de92d1c6ba/images/f173c96c-5b2b-4524-a834-09580b71b72e.jpg

MARSHALLTOWN

Professional quality concrete and masonry tools
 


 


Associate Profile

Sam Shaw
Warehouse Rebar Fabricator Associate, Greenville

This month's associate profile is of Sam Shaw, a Warehouse/Rebar Fabricator Associate in our Greenville branch. Sam was born in Greenville and is a graduate of Riverside High School and received his Associates Degree in Business from Greenville Technical College. Prior to joining us this past January Sam was self-employed in the drone photography business. Sam’s hobbies include “spirited motorcycle riding”, spending time with his girlfriend and her son, and going on social outings with friends. Sam has made an immediate impact on the Greenville team with his work ethic and “can do” attitude.


Our Leadership story this month is titled, Six Practices That Will Make You a Better Listener. Many supervisors are better talkers than listeners (including yours truly), so I learned some good tips from this article. If you’re trying to be a better listener, give this a read.

6 Practices That Will Make You a Better Listener

By Ken Blanchard

As we begin to come out of the coronavirus pandemic and run smack into the turmoil around continuing racism in our country, I think it’s a good time to review an essential leadership skill: listening.

So often the key to overcoming a difficulty—whether it’s in the workplace or at home—is to stop talking and start listening. I often like to joke that if God had wanted us to talk more than listen, he would have given us two mouths.

Yet few people have mastered the art of listening. Why is this seemingly simple skill so difficult?

Research published by Wendell Johnson in the Harvard Business Review examined one way the listening process goes wrong. Johnson found that because of how our brains work, we think much faster than people talk. As we listen to someone talk, we have time to think of things other than what the person is saying. As a result, we end up listening to a few thoughts of our own in addition to the words we’re hearing spoken. Usually we can get back to what the person is saying, but sometimes we listen to our own thoughts too long and miss part of the other person’s message.

To sharpen your listening skills, learn to apply the following six practices.
 

  1. Resist the Temptation to Jump In. Sometimes people need time to formulate their thoughts. Particularly if you’re an extrovert, control the impulse to finish people’s sentences or fill silences with your own opinions and ideas.
     
  2. Pay Attention to Body Language. Listen with your eyes as well as your ears. Watch a person’s face and body movements. Are they avoiding eye contact? What about the tone of their voice—do you hear confidence, eagerness, or perhaps irritation? Be aware of clues that their silent behaviors provide, while being sensitive to your own nonverbal signals. For example, is your body language encouraging someone to continue with a conversation, or silently telling them to stop?
     
  3. Ask Questions. This is not about interrogation or control. Use well thought-out questions to seek information, opinions, or ideas that will help you understand exactly what is being said. Use open-ended questions to encourage communication; for example, “Can you tell me more about that?” Ask clarifying questions to check for understanding; for example, “When did this happen?” Ask prompting questions to encourage deeper thinking; for example, “What do you think caused this to happen?”
     
  4. Reflect FeelingsAcknowledge any emotions the person is expressing and show them you understand by restating their feelings back to them in a nonjudgmental way. This demonstrates that you not only understand their message but also empathize with their feelings.
     
  5. Paraphrase. Again, resist the temptation to respond with your own thoughts. Instead, restate in your own words what the person said. This demonstrates that you heard what they said and assures that you heard them correctly.
     
  6. Summarize. State in a nutshell what was communicated during the entire conversation. Don’t worry about repeating the exact words. What’s important is to capture the main points and general sequence of what was said. This is where you want to reflect the speaker’s conclusion back to them to indicate that you understand.

 
These practices are not easy—they require time and effort to master. But once you do master them, you’ll build more satisfying relationships. You’ll also avoid a lot of the errors, frustrations, and inefficiencies that come from unclear communication. Think of how our homes, workplaces, nation, and world could change for the better if we all learned to listen to one another.


That’s all for this month. Spring is here and the economy is about to boom, so buckle your chin strap and get ready for a strong building season.

Best regards,

Jim Sobeck
President & CEO 864-263-4377 (Direct Line)
jim.sobeck@newsouthsupply.com
Connect with us: Twitter | YouTube | Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram

Author of The Real Business 101: Lessons From the Trenches
Get your copy below.
For Smashwords (eBook version for Kindle, iPad, Nook) click here
For direct link to Amazon site (Kindle and print version) click here

 

February 2021 Newsletter


>> New South eNews
New South Construction Supply
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New South News

Dear Friends,

It is hard to believe March is almost here, and with the weather warming up in the Southeast, news of Covid-19 numbers dropping drastically, vaccines being distributed, and commercial and residential building continue to thrive in the regions in which we serve, we are looking forward to Spring and starting or continuing ongoing projects with customers.

In February, most of our markets experienced cold and wet days, which isn’t good for the construction business, however as mentioned above, there is a lot to look forward to.

Here's a breakdown of New South Construction Supply’s February in review, plus more insight into what to expect in March:

  • Business News: We welcomed many new customers and are providing materials for some exciting new projects, including the sixth largest warehouse ever built in the world, the 3 million square foot Walmart Distribution center being built in Ridgeville, SC.
  • 40th Anniversary News: As we continue the celebration of our 40th year in business, Iwas also featured in LBM Journal this February, reflecting on lessons learned at New South, and I was also interviewed by my mentor and leading building materials consultant Bill Lee to touch on New South’s 40 years and the what’s planned for the road ahead. Click here for the five-minute read.
  • Materials & Pricing News: We are seeing rampant price increases on many of the products we sell. Lumber is the most volatile with prices breaking $1000 per thousand board feet late last week. We will continue to keep our newsletter readers and clients in the loop as news or pricing changes.

For a detailed look at pricing for our main products, see below.

Mother nature bared her teeth in February and the extreme weather conditions wreaked havoc on multiple construction commodity items. Metals, lumber, and polyethylene all were impacted in some facet, be it price, availability, or both by the rough February conditions.

Rebar ended the month of February without any major changes from January’s price run. While scrap dipped briefly to start the month, it quickly came back up and had no major impact on pricing. The surge in purchases to beat the price increases has settled down and the market is showing some price stability. The winter storm throughout the majority of the country last week has stalled scrap collections in the recent weeks, but the same storms have slowed production down as well. Baring something catastrophic, pricing should remain fairly stable through March.

Wire mesh reinforcing is following the same pattern. There were rumors in early February that there may be an additional price increase pending, but that increase did not materialize, and pricing remained consistent with early month pricing. Mill production in the Southeast was not as impacted due to weather as were others in the Midwest. We may see some delay on lead times if midwestern mills cannot get up and running soon, forcing the southeastern mills to help supplement demand in those regions. We expect pricing to stay stable with the only major impact possibly being on lead time.

Lumber has continued its northward path. Pricing continues to climb as availability remains a major issue. With demand being roughly 20% above seasonal norms and production being down at least 30%, the demand vs availability wedge keeps widening. #3 grade has all but been eliminated as an option from the market. Lower grade material is either being used in production of other goods or is being cut down to make higher graded material. Brokers and distributors are scrambling to find and purchase material to fulfill orders already on the books. Mills are struggling to keep up with demand, and to make matters more complicated, trucking availability is again an issue. Increasing transportation rates are compounding the already high material costs driving numbers even higher with no expectation of a reprieve anytime soon. Lumber looks to remain a wild ride for the foreseeable future.

The commodity that looks to be the most impacted by the recent weather is polyethylene. Not only did the cold weather shut down facilities and halt production, but it also decimated the flow of raw goods used to make poly. One manufacturer listed ten major disruptions of plants throughout Texas and surrounding states. Terms such as ‘crisis’ and ‘tumultuous’ are being used by poly manufacturers when describing their situation. Demand was extremely high and raw materials extremely tight before the storm and the situation looks to only get worse after. Lead times of four weeks or more should be expected now. The impact of these storms and plant shutdowns will be felt throughout the rest of the year. We expect lead times and pricing to increase rapidly and substantially over the next few months.

Here is a list of the vendors with price increases scheduled for March.

BoMetals has announced a price increase set for March 15, 2021. They have announced a 5% increase on all plastic products including PVC waterstop, joint formers, round dowel sleeves and bases, etc., and an increase of 9% is scheduled for all steel products such as keyway, stakes, dovetail, and anchors.

Drew Foam will be implementing a price increase effective March 15, 2021. Increases in raw materials, transportation, and energy costs are listed as the reason for the 6% increase. This increase will be effective on all orders shipping after the March 15th date.

The gap between input costs for construction and contractors’ bid prices widened further in January. The producer price index (PPI) for nonresidential building construction—a measure of the price that contractors say they would charge to build a fixed set of buildings—inched up 0.2% from December, while the PPI for inputs to new nonresidential construction jumped 2.5%, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on February 17. AGC posted tables and a chart 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

In this month’s edition of “Catching up with our Customers” we interview Monty Brinson, Estimator and Project Manager at Charleston Glass Company. Charleston Glass was established in 1963 by Harold Morgan and is now run by his children, Randy Morgan who operates the commercial side, and Brenda Metts who operates the residential side and shower door department, and their families. Not only is the company still family owned and operated, but according to Monty, when you work there, you are considered family as well, which is why so many employees have been there for decades. Charleston Glass services include interior and exterior glass work and caulking for homes, hotels, storefronts and more. A few projects Monty is excited about are the Greek Hellenic Church in the city of Charleston, and the new Fire Station 11, which is being built on the Charleston 9 Memorial land where nine brave firefighters tragically lost their lives battling a furniture store fire in 2007. Read more about this special project, and more about Charleston Glass in the full Q&A interview by clicking here.


Featured Manufacturers

 

Hohmann & Barnard

Provider of quality and innovative products that architects, engineers and contractors have come to rely on since 1933.

Zurn

A Worldwide Leader in Trench Drain Systems

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/f50bf108ac23c82de92d1c6ba/images/f173c96c-5b2b-4524-a834-09580b71b72e.jpg

Simpson Strong Tie

Connecting systems for wood, steel, masonry, and concrete
 


 


Associate Profile

Robert Womack
Rebar Fabrication Shop Manager, Hardeeville

This month's associate profile is of Robert Womack, our Rebar Fabrication Shop Manager at our Hardeeville, SC (Hilton Head/Savannah) branch. Robert joined us in March 2016 as a temp in our warehouse and quickly established a reputation as an extremely hard worker, so we hired him on full-time and he rapidly worked his way up the ladder. Born in Mobile, AL and graduated from Williamson High School, Robert has been married for 26 years, and he and his wife have six children – all girls. In his downtime, Robert enjoys bowling and hitting the gym. We’re thrilled to have Robert on our team.


Our leadership article this month is entitled, Are you a Boss or a Leader? These Characteristics Will Strengthen Your Leadership Skills. A lot of new managers aren’t aware of the difference between a Boss and a Leader. You may want to forward this to the newer managers in your organization.

Are you a Boss or a Leader? These Characteristics Will Strengthen Your Leadership Skills
 
By John R. Stoker

Here are the 12 characteristics that strong leaders possess, as well as some additional thoughts about each one.

1. Be open to new ideas. Some bosses think they know everything, so they are not really interested in what anyone else thinks, nor are they willing to consider others’ experience and what changes or adjustments could made. Leaders are open to hearing what others have to say and how they can best contribute to the goal at hand.

2. Solicit everyone’s ideas. Some people are quiet and won’t readily volunteer their thoughts, especially if their ideas seem to run contrary to what others are thinking. Each person has a different experience and enjoys a unique perspective. Leaders who seek to understand those ideas and perspectives may generate learning lessons that would benefit everyone.

3. Willingly discuss challenges and opportunities. Bosses may discuss challenges in the context of blame and accusation. Rather than take the time to really understand what challenges employees are facing, they may blame workers for not following company protocol or procedures. Leaders will seek to uncover the reasons for their employees not performing as expected and then do what they can to provide support and offer additional training and resources as needed.

4. Be approachable. Some bosses rarely take a personal interest in their workers. They can be aloof and unapproachable. This may result in individual team members trying to help and support one another exclusively, rather than going to the boss for help. If team members are new or inexperienced, they may lead one another astray because of the lack of their own experience with the business. Strong leaders take the time to get to know their reports. They invite their people to share concerns and questions and are willing to do all they can to help their team be successful.

5. Consider decision impact. Sometimes bosses make decisions quickly without considering the long-range impact of their decisions. Taking a moment to consider the outcomes and results of those choices on the clients, the employees and the company would save the wasted time, money and frustration that will likely occur as a result of hasty decision-making.

6. Engage with everyone. Sometimes bosses are more interested in the comments of a select few people they know and trust, rather than their entire team. With others, they may not be engaging or even pleasant. As a result, the ill-favored team members may begin to disengage for fear of being responded to negatively. Over time, their performance will also suffer. Leaders should work toward making all their team members feel valued by inviting their opinions and suggestions, noticing the good they are doing and interacting with them regularly.

7. Make decisions. Sometimes supervisors have difficulty making decisions, so they contact other supervisors to solicit their opinions or wait to make a decision until they have received more information from other sources. This takes a lot of time, so efficiency suffers. This unwillingness or reticence to make a decision can lead team members to question the boss' leadership capability. It is almost as if no decision is better than the wrong decision. Leaders make decisions based on their training, experience and research. They confidently make the choice and move forward, keeping their team on time and on track.

8. Listen and ask questions. Oftentimes bosses interact with their team members only to tell them what to do — not allowing for questions or discussion. When people feel brave enough to ask questions or ask for help, they aren’t given the time to make sure they are understood. In their haste to move forward, bosses may assume they know what team members are asking, so they attempt to answer questions without complete information or follow-up. When this happens, team members usually don’t want to tell their boss that they didn’t get their questions answered or their concerns addressed. Problems continue to go unresolved and results remain the same. Strong leaders will give direction and then allow time to accurately answer any questions that may arise. Asking clarifying questions will help leaders ensure they have truly answered team members’ concerns.

9. Offer encouragement. Some jobs are really difficult. Door-to-door sales, for example, in the summer heat is hard. Sometimes bosses are more interested in making numbers than in supporting team members and encouraging them to do better. When bosses don’t acknowledge the challenges and the effort required to do difficult tasks, they strain working relationships. It’s hard to work with people who don’t seem to care about you. Good leaders will understand what is required of each team member and will support and encourage them in ways that motivate them to do their best.

10. Allow for autonomy. Some bosses seem to be too controlling. It is important to remember that people often learn through personal experience what works and what doesn’t. When something doesn’t work, if possible, individuals should be allowed to figure out why and make the needed improvements. Leaders will check in with workers and invite them to suggest how they might complete their tasks better. If something isn’t working, the leader should have a discussion with that person, invite him or her to offer suggestions of how to improve. We all want to succeed and should be accountable for learning and making needed improvements rather than just being told what to do.

11. Share experience. Our bosses occupy their roles because they are very good at sales. Sharing what works and what doesn’t on a daily basis would help their team members learn from those who have more experience. When bosses withhold information, they limit the growth of team members and keep them from developing their skills quickly. As team members, the challenge is to learn quicker and not continue making the same mistakes. Learning would be greatly accelerated if our leaders shared more of their experience.

12. Shadow performance. Team members, especially younger workers, would value being periodically observed and given feedback about their skills and abilities. While this isn’t always possible due to the bosses’ responsibilities, it is often difficult for team members to know specifically what they need to work on without direct feedback. Leaders could greatly improve the success of team members if they could find a way to provide specific, meaningful feedback — helping them know what to do to improve their performance.

I was very impressed with what my older son learned in a few short weeks of a difficult summer job. His list offers great insights for effective leadership and the deliberate effort that each of us needs to take if we want to lead our team members to succeed.


That’s a wrap for this month. Hopefully, winter is almost over in the South and Spring construction will soon boom as projected. As always, let me know how we can serve you better.

Best regards,

Jim Sobeck
President & CEO 864-263-4377 (Direct Line)
jim.sobeck@newsouthsupply.com
Connect with us: Twitter | YouTube | Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram

Author of The Real Business 101: Lessons From the Trenches
Get your copy below.
For Smashwords (eBook version for Kindle, iPad, Nook) click here
For direct link to Amazon site (Kindle and print version) click here

January 2021 Newsletter


>> New South eNews
New South Construction Supply
New South News Header - Please load images to view newsletter properly.

New South News

Dear Friends,

As the New Year begins, I want to wish all our newsletter readers health and success in 2021. With vaccines rolling out now we should be back to normal by mid-year. Luckily, construction has not been negatively affected like many other segments of our economy and that is projected to continue. In fact, Goldman Sachs is projecting 6.6% GDP growth this year due to pent up demand that will be unleashed once herd immunity has been reached and the proposed Biden stimulus plan and the long-anticipated infrastructure bill which looks like it will finally happen this year.

Also, 2021 marks our 40th year of servicing contractors in the Carolinas, Georgia, and surrounding states. Thanks to all of you for helping us make it to this milestone. Here is a story on our 40th anniversary milestone in the Upstate Business Journal (SC). I hope you’ll take two minutes to read it.

The previously mentioned strong construction economy has a downside: price increases and product shortages. See below for more information on this.

While price increases are generally expected at the start of each new year, the start of 2021 has brought a historical number of increases. These price increases are occurring frequently and at levels not seen since 2008. Construction commodity products such as rebar, reinforcing mesh, poly, and lumber have all seen record increases in both frequency and dollar amount.

Rebar pricing has again increased since our last newsletter and is now up $185 per ton from where it was just a month and a half ago. Metal scrap used in the manufacturing of these products is and remains the leading cause driving these increases. Scrap posted up another $90-$100 in mid-January and caused rebar mills to react and push through another $50/ton increase on finished rebar. All four major mills in our market are following the same pattern on increases. Once one of the four announces, the other three have followed suit shortly afterwards. These increases are here to stay and there is no talk of this dramatic rise turning over any time soon. Distributors of all sizes are rapidly trying to stockpile inventory to beat future increases and this large increase in purchases are hammering the mill’s sitting inventory. If scrap prices remain high and demand continues to increase, expect rebar pricing to continue to climb through the first quarter.

Wire mesh reinforcement has also seen a rapid increase in pricing over the past few months. Much like rebar, the price of mesh reinforcing is dependent on scrap metal pricing. While mesh mills were slow to push out price increases initially, there has been a rapid succession of increases released over the past month. Nothing official has been released yet, but there are rumblings of another price increase in the $75 – $100 per ton range. We are estimating this new price increase to be announced in the coming weeks.

Polyethylene manufacturers announced price increases that will go into effect early February. This price increase is ranging from 6% to 8% depending on the manufacturer. Raw material costs and increased transportation costs are stated as the main cause. Demand remains high and lead times are now consistently running in the three-to-four-week range.

The slight reprieve in the lumber market seen in the late 4th quarter has quickly been reversed at the start of the new year. Lumber is once again a commodity on the rise. Low availability, due to low production levels, coupled with high demand and large backlogs, has driven the price on lumber back up. #3 grade is almost non-existent within the market with the only options being #2 grade or better. This is especially the case on larger width boards. Very few loads are available promptly and most loads are being quoted with two- or three-week lead times. Until production can catch up to demand levels, high lumber prices are here to stay. We expect this volatility to remain through the first quarter.

A cost squeeze for contractors intensified in December as the producer price index (PPI) for nonresidential building construction—a measure of the price that contractors say they would charge to build a fixed set of buildings—inched up 0.1% from November, while the PPI for inputs to new nonresidential construction jumped 1.7%, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on January 15. 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

In this month’s installment of our “Catching up with our Customers” series, we interviewed Rick Alexander, Executive Vice President of M. B. Kahn and Division Manager of their Specialty Construction Division. A long-standing company that was founded in 1927 by Myron B. Kahn, M. B. Kahn provides a full line of construction services to take projects from concept to completion, on time and under budget. M. B. Kahn Construction Co., Inc. is equipped to offer clients all of the commonly used construction services, including: General Contracting (including Self-Performance Capabilities, Preconstruction, and General Construction), Construction Management (including Program Management, CM Agency, Preconstruction Services, and Facility Planning), and CM@Risk, as well as Design-Build, and Site Analysis & Evaluation. For M. B. Kahn, there is no “standard” project, and they recognize that each venture has distinct requirements that call for special attention and programming, and that’s what they provide to their clients. Read more and take a few minutes to read their full Q&A by clicking here.


Featured Manufacturers

 

CON-DRI

Premier Supplier of Reinforced Poly, Debris Netting, Wood Chamfer, and Vapor Barriers

SpecChem

Makers of Chemicals and Aggregates for the Concrete Industry

DuPont

Premier Supplier of Insulations, Sealants, and Weatherization Products


 


Associate Profile

Brian Brady
Sales Manager, Greensboro

This month’s associate profile is of Brian Brady, one of the Sales Managers based out of our Greensboro branch. Brian was born in Asheboro, NC and graduated from Asheboro High School. He then earned a   B. A. degree in History and Politics from Wake Forest University, cum laude. Brian is married and he and his wife, Mendy, have four children. His hobbies include family youth sports, running (he’s completed numerous 5/10K’s, half and full marathons), reading, supporting Wake Forest athletics, and live music concerts. Prior to joining us last September, Brian was in sales for Chandler Concrete and SE Retail. Brian has been a great addition to our Greensboro team.


Our leadership article this month is a recent column of mine from the Upstate Business Journal entitled, No One Ever Won an Argument with a Customer. Click here to read the full article on how to handle customer complaints in a way that your relationship gets strengthened when your resolve the issue.

Lastly, as part of our 40th anniversary celebration we launched a new website. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out at www.newsouthsupply.com. We think it’s cleaner and less cluttered than our prior site.


That’s it for this month. We hope for a mild winter so we all can take care of the pent-up demand for construction and that all these price increases begin to slow down. As always, let me know how we can better serve you.

Best regards,

Jim Sobeck
President & CEO 864-263-4377 (Direct Line)
jim.sobeck@newsouthsupply.com
Connect with us: Twitter | YouTube | Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram

Author of The Real Business 101: Lessons From the Trenches
Get your copy below.
For Smashwords (eBook version for Kindle, iPad, Nook) click here
For direct link to Amazon site (Kindle and print version) click here

December 2020 Newsletter

 


>> New South eNews
New South Construction Supply
New South News Header - Please load images to view newsletter properly.

New South News

Dear Friends,

First off, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and best wishes for the New Year! While this has been a most unusual year, the construction industry has been one of the few beneficiaries of the pandemic. Urban flight has been good for residential construction in the South and late adopters of eCommerce have caused a building frenzy of eCommerce distribution centers and data centers. Interest rates and mortgage rates remain at record lows, further fueling construction, especially among Millennials or Boomers. COVID-19 vaccines are now available, and we are hopeful to be back to normal no later than mid-2021. Congress is also talking about an infrastructure bill and an additional stimulus program next year. All of that bodes well for the construction industry; however, it has led to serious price inflation in some products. See below for details.

Rebar pricing has exploded since our last newsletter. All three major mills have pushed through price increases totaling $95 per ton. The first increase of $30 per ton hit right before Thanksgiving and an even larger increase of $65 was pushed through just two weeks later. Shortage of scrap metal availability and large international purchases of US scrap have put major strains on the supply chain. Brokers are estimating the scrap inventory deficit will take more than 60 days to correct and expect this run of high-priced scrap to continue running through February. Expect domestic rebar to remain high for the next few months with a possibility of more increases. The dramatic rise in pricing is not just impacting domestic steel; imported rebar pricing is increasing faster than domestic rebar pricing.

 

Spring import prices are higher than current domestic prices and expect to remain that way until international raw materials pricing settles below domestic pricing. Wire mesh followed a similar pattern and mills pushed through another price increase on welded wire reinforcing mesh. This second round of increases by all three major southeast mills took place during the weeks of December 14th and December 21st resulting in a $100 per ton increase from previous pricing. Expectations are for wire mesh to continue at this new level through January, but we are continuing to monitor for potential increases in the near future.

Just as we thought lumber was settling, the market takes off again. There has been a sharp increase in demand over the past few weeks and that demand is driving pricing northwards. Lead times are again being stretched out three or four weeks, as mills struggle to produce enough material to fulfill orders already on the books. Available loads of #3 grade lumber in 2×4’s and 2×8’s are scarce and have currently been selling 10-15% higher than where they were a month ago. After speaking with some lumber brokers, there is no expectation for pricing to soften through the first quarter. Some brokers have stated that these new levels will most likely become the norm moving forward with pre-pandemic pricing levels being history.

Polyethylene has remained stable over the last month with regards to pricing. The price increase pushed through a few months ago has stuck and there are no signs of a reduction in the near future. Demand remains strong for poly and lead times continue to be three to four weeks.

Here are a few price increase notices that were sent out this month:

Master Builders Solutions, a leading manufacturer of construction chemicals and repair products, released a price increase notice effective February 1st, 2021. The range of increase will vary across product categories, but all product categories will see a price increase. All orders placed and shipped prior to February 1st will reflect the current pricing.

ABT, Inc. has also sent notice for an upcoming price increase. This price increase will be implemented on January 1st, 2021 and will impact all products. ABT lists significant increases in raw materials and transportation costs as the main causes of the price increase.

Drew Foam Companies, Inc., a manufacturer of foam for a variety of insulation applications, has announced a 6% increase on all products effective January 4th, 2021. They listed raw material cost increases, packaging cost increases, and COVID-19 related costs as the reason to implement a price increase.

 

York Flashings announced a price increase on December 11th, 2020 that took immediate effect on all orders placed after that date. Copper flashing was the highest increase of 9%-12%, followed by Rubberized asphalt peel and stick products of 3%-5%, and lastly stainless-steel flashing that saw a 2%-4% increase.

A cost squeeze for contractors eased slightly in November as the producer price index (PPI) for new nonresidential building construction—a measure of the price that contractors say they would charge to build a fixed set of buildings—inched up 0.1% October, while the PPI for inputs to new nonresidential construction held steady after six months of increases, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported today. 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

In this month’s installment of our Catching up with our Customers series, we are interviewing Harby Moses Jr., who formed Coastal Structures Corporation in 1990. Based out of Georgetown, SC (on the South Carolina coast), Coastal Structures is a mid-size, full-service contractor that provides unmatched commercial construction services around an 80-mile radius of their headquarters. Having been in business more than 25 years, the company maintains the highest standards of quality, service, and commitment to meeting the expectations of their clients. Read about the company’s mission, employees, featured projects, and how they stand out among their competitors by reading the five minute Q&A here.


Featured Manufacturers

Access Tile

The ultimate solution in detectable warning systems

Access Tile is the result of responding to a market demand for a better solution to detectable warning tiles at a cost-effective price. With over 20 years of proven manufacturing experience in detectable warnings, Access Tile’s improved design features will exceed industry expectations from specifier to installer.

Spyder

Manufacturer of blades and attachments that work as long and hard as you do

 

Makita

Manufacturer of power tools, drill bits, blades, and other equipment


Associate Profile

Felipe “Fil” Amaral
Rebar Estimator/Detailer, Myrtle Beach

This month’s associate profile is of Felipe “Fil” Amaral, a rebar estimator/detailer based out of our Myrtle Beach, SC branch. Fil was born in Portugal and graduated from James Madison High School in Vienna, VA. He then got a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. He is married with two sons and enjoys video gaming, fishing, gardening, cars and the beach. Prior to joining us last August, he worked for two other rebar fabricators. The way our rebar fabrication business has grown, it has been great to have another in house estimator/detailer.

As in the past, rather than send greeting cards, we made a donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation in the name of all of our customers. The Make-A-Wish Foundation is something that everyone can get behind as they grant wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses.


Our leadership article this month is, Are You Working on You? Questions for Improving the Quality of Your Leadership. There is no finish line and all of us in leadership positions can always get better. I picked up several new tips from this article and I bet you will as well.

Are you working on you? Questions for improving the quality of your leadership

By John R. Stoker

Here are a number of questions you may consider to improve your awareness and the quality of your leadership:

1. “Are people motivated to follow you?” And, additionally, “How do you know they are motivated?” Taking a moment to identify how people are responding to you may help you make needed adjustments to how you are managing them.

2. “Do people seek your perspective or insights?” Your answer to this question may help identify how approachable you are. If no one is asking for your input, you might assess how you respond to others, especially when things don’t go as planned. You might also examine how you respond to questions, concerns and needs.

3. “How open am I to different perspectives about tough issues?” If no one disagrees with you or offers alternate ways of looking at challenges, then you might consider how you react when people respond in a contrary way. If you don’t take charge of your feelings and seek understanding when others disagree, people will usually stop offering differing viewpoints for fear of negative consequences.

4. “What situations or feedback cause me to get defensive?” If you can identify the situations that may trigger a negative reaction from you and explore why you tend to respond that way, then you can manage your responses more effectively and objectively.

5. “Why do I take certain situations personally?” This question is really about identifying your personal values. Whenever we perceive that an important value is about to be challenged or called into question, we often respond emotionally. If you find yourself responding combatively or negatively, you might ask yourself, “What did I want?” or “What expectations were violated?” The answer to these questions will help you understand the reasons for your negative emotional reactions.

6. “How does my communication style affect others?” I have had people tell me after a presentation that their manager sent them to the event so I could fix them. What that really tells me is that the person and their manager have different styles for communicating. These style differences often become the source of disagreement and contention. Understanding your communication style and the styles of others will help you interact in an effective way, establish rapport and avoid misunderstandings.

7. “How does my mood or state of mind influence the decision-making of others?” You could just as easily ask how your mood or state of mind influences the performance of others. People will watch you and how you engage with and interact with others. If they observe any behavior that may be interpreted negatively, they will avoid interacting with you until they deem it is “safe.” Unfortunately, this may lead to delays and other problems that could cause adverse outcomes.

The converse is also true. If people know they can come to you with questions and concerns and are responded to in a positive way, they won’t hesitate to communicate with you.

8. “Do people view me as negative and cynical or positive and passionate?” Most of us don’t enjoy being around folks who are negative. If you don’t know how you come across to others, perhaps you should ask for feedback from someone who will tell you the truth. We don’t often see ourselves as we are seen, so acquiring a more objective perspective can be invaluable in relating to, connecting with, and leading others.

9. “What personal characteristics of others bother me the most?” Answering this question will help you develop your emotional intelligence and will help you avoid a negative reaction to those that might display a particular characteristic or behavior. Once you have identified that which may bother you, be more aware when interacting in those situations or with those people. Do a little preemptive preparation by recognizing how you might react and how you want to react.

10. “Do I make negative assumptions or judgments of others, or do I give others the benefit of the doubt?” You may make negative assumptions of others if you have a past negative history with them or someone like them. The challenge in this situation is to recognize this characteristic and stop yourself before you take action. This is not easy because we often make assumptions without even realizing we are doing so.

One easy tool for helping in this area is to use your negative feelings as a cueing mechanism to identify the thinking behind your feelings. Another activity you might apply is to recognize the assumptions you are making and ask yourself if there are data or evidence that logically supports your assumptions. In the absence of any logical basis for your thinking, then you must recognize that your thinking is just that — your thinking.

These are just a few ideas of questions you might consider as you give thought to your experience as a leader. Answering these particular questions will help clarify your current results, assess the quality of your leadership, and increase awareness of the condition of your relationships. Taking the time to contemplate how you are interacting with others and how they are responding to you will help you in important ways to become a stronger, more effective leader.


That’s it for this year. I know we all can’t wait to see 2020 in the rear view mirror. I’m excited for a return to normalcy in 2021. As always, thank you for your support of New South Construction Supply and best wishes for the holiday season.

Best wishes,

Jim Sobeck
President & CEO 864-263-4377 (Direct Line)
jim.sobeck@newsouthsupply.com
Connect with us: Twitter | YouTube | Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram

Author of The Real Business 101: Lessons From the Trenches
Get your copy below.
For Smashwords (eBook version for Kindle, iPad, Nook) click here
For direct link to Amazon site (Kindle and print version) click here

November 2020 Newsletter


>> New South eNews
New South Construction Supply
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New South News

Dear Friends,

First and foremost, I want to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving. While this has been the most unusual of years, most of us still have a lot to be thankful for. Those of us in the construction industry have more to be thankful for than most. Construction has then one of the few beneficiaries of this pandemic, depending upon what segment of the business you are involved in. Luckily, we are involved in several parts of the industry that are doing very well.

This is also “forecasting” time of the year and I’m getting forecasts from all different trade groups and consulting organizations. A consensus has emerged that the residential and industrial segments of the industry should do well next year while commercial and multifamily construction will continue to decline. Road and bridge construction is also projected to be flat, but if Congress passes the long anticipated infrastructure bill, that will help. Most forecasters are calling for the total construction market to increase by 3-4% next year.

See below for pricing trends on our key products:

We mentioned in last month’s newsletter that we were monitoring scrap metal pricing closely. There has been some movement since then and scrap posted up $10/per ton over October’s numbers. Lower than expected domestic scrap supply, coupled with higher valued export opportunities are driving the price per ton increase. Availability is expected to remain tight and scrap prices look like they may continue to rise. The mills have absorbed these minor increases so far, but we do not expect that to remain the case for long. We expect to see rebar pricing increase in the very near future. We don’t expect the increase to be as large of an increase as we saw in September, but we are expecting one to occur soon. If you have space for the inventory or a job starting soon, the next few weeks would be an ideal time to purchase for the future.

Wire mesh price increases are slightly ahead of rebar. All three major mills in the southeast have announced price increases. Most of these price increases have already gone into effect or will be in effect after the Thanksgiving holiday. Current sitting inventory purchased at earlier pricing will only last for so long, and we can expect to see the higher priced product begin impacting sitting inventory over the next few weeks. Availability remains moderate with most orders available to ship within a week or so of placing the order. The real impact on lead time stems from trucking availability. Trucking remains an issue across the US with manufacturers struggling to find a consistent supply of available and willing trucks to move product. This has been a common theme over the past few years, and we do not see this getting much better any time soon.

Polyethylene continues to be an item in high demand. There has not been an increase since our last report, but lead times remain stretched. Depending on size and quantity needed, lead times are currently running at three to four weeks. Buyers are aware of these larger lead times and have been purchasing accordingly. This typically means larger, less frequent purchases are being placed versus smaller, just-in-time purchases that were made when availability was much higher this past spring.

Lumber continues to settle from the wildest summer and fall on record. Pricing has solidified from the rapid decrease we saw over the past month. Pricing on both 2×4 and 2×8 SYP has remained stable over the past few weeks. There are sporadic trucks available at ‘overstocked’ pricing, but they are not as near as frequent as they were a few weeks ago. #3 grade SYP lumber continues to have two- or three-week lead time, but #2 grade in certain sizes is much more available. The long-forgotten term of ‘prompt shipment’ is starting to slowly work its way back onto quotes from mills and brokers.

We received two price increase notices from manufacturers in the past few weeks. Sonoco has announced a minimum of an 8% increase for all tubes and cores that will take effect on Monday, November 23, 2020. Sonoco listed the recent paperboard price increases as the reason for the price adjustment. Nomaco, a major supplier of backer rod, has also announced a pending price increase. An 11% increase on all OCFoam products will be put into effect on January 1, 2020. Price increases and availability of raw materials has produced the need for the price increase.

The cost squeeze for contractors intensified in October as the producer price index (PPI) for inputs to new nonresidential construction increased for the sixth consecutive month (up 0.5% from September). While the PPI for new nonresidential building construction—a measure of the price that contractors say they would charge to build a fixed set of buildings—was unchanged from September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on November 13. 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

In this month’s installment of our Catching up with our Customers series, we interview Jerry G. Coram, who is the President and Owner of JG Coram Construction Inc. Jerry has been a valued customer of New South Construction Supply since 2007 when we began providing his business with necessary materials for their projects. JG Coram Co., Inc. is a full-service construction company, headquartered in Mount Airy, North Carolina, and was established in 1978 by Jerry’s father. In 1983, Jerry joined full-time after spending his summers working there. He tells us that honesty in conducting business has always been very important to him and his associates. It is also evident that giving back to the community is something that is significant to him and his team, as JG Coram Co., Inc. is currently working on building a home called The Shepherd’s House, which is committed to providing a safe place to stay and various types of support for mistreated women and their children. We encourage you to read Jerry’s full interview to learn more about this charity and ways you can donate, to learn about the preservation work JG Coram Co., Inc. has been awarded for, and other ways the company gives back to those around them. Visit our website to read the fascinating Q&A.


Featured Manufacturers

SpecChem

Makers of Chemicals and Aggregates for the Concrete Industry


 

Spyder

Manufacturer of blades and attachments that work as long and hard as you do

 

Makita

Manufacturer of power tools, drill bits, blades, and other equipment


Featured Project: The Low Battery Seawall

This month we are highlighting a project profile. If you have a project you would like us to profile in a future newsletter, email me at Jim.Sobeck@newsouthsupply.com.

This profile was submitted by Owens Corning and features their fiberglass rebar that was used in the rebuilding of the Low Battery Wall in historic Charleston, SC. Four of our customers worked on this job so it is near and dear to us.

WORKING WITH OWENS CORNING FIBERGLAS REBAR SUPPLIED BY NEW SOUTH CONSTRUCTION SUPPLY
 
The Low Battery seawall is one of Charleston’s most iconic and historic landmarks.  The wall was constructed in the early twentieth century along Charleston’s southernmost peninsula between Tradd Street and the “Turn” at White Point Garden.  The wall facilitated a large land reclamation project creating what is now known as Murray Boulevard.  A waterfront promenade along its length gives pedestrians unobstructed views of the Ashley River.

The concrete seawall, cast on top of timber piling was exhibiting deterioration of the concrete face and timber piling connections. Settlement behind the wall caused a severe slope in the promenade making it difficult for the public to enjoy its full use and made accessibility a challenge for the City’s disabled residents and visitors. With an increase in sea levels, higher tides, and more intense storms, the existing wall frequent overtops contributing to the problematic flooding of the peninsula.

The Low Battery seawall repairs, designed by Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson (JMT), included raising the height of the wall, underpinning the wall with micropiles, constructing a new concrete pile cap tied to the existing wall, replacing lost fill material, reconstructing the face, and supporting the new ADA-compliant promenade on the pile caps to prevent future settlement.  JMT selected GFRP reinforcing bars to reinforce the new concrete promenade, concrete rail posts, and the shotcrete repairs to the walls facing the Ashley River since these elements would be exposed to the most corrosive environments.  Gulfstream Construction and their subcontractors Palmetto Gunite, Beech Contracting and KBS Construction completed Phase 1 from Tradd Street to Rutledge Avenue in 2020.  Gulfstream selected Owens Corning® Fiberglas™ Rebar manufactured at its plant in Blythewood, South Carolina and supplied by New South Construction Supply. (Photos courtesy of  Laura Boisclair, Project Manager at Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson.) Guest article written by Gregg Blaszak, P.E., Coastline Composite. Thank you to Owens Corning for collaborating with New South Construction Supply on this project feature.)


Associate Profile

Brandon Taylor
Manager in Training, Charlotte

This month’s Associate Profile is of Brandon Taylor, a Manager in Training at our Charlotte branch. Brandon was born in Spartanburg, SC and graduated from Boiling Springs High School. He received a B.S. degree in Management from Clemson University and prior to joining us he worked as a summer intern for Roebuck Buildings (one of our customers) in the summer of 2018 and Southern Marsh Nursery in the summer of 2019. His hobbies include duck hunting and fishing. Brandon joined us in June of this past year and quickly made a name for himself with his willingness to do whatever has been asked of him. We predict a great future for Brandon.

Our management article this month features my latest column in the Upstate (SC) Business Journal about non-competition agreements (aka non-competes). Over my 40+ years in business I’ve seen too many friends and customers hire, train, mentor, and invest in people — only to have them repay them by going into business against them and biting the hand that fed them. I know that, depending on which side of the agreement you are, you either love or hate non-competes. I have had potential hires balk at signing a non-compete but when I say they don’t have to sign it if they pay all of their own expenses, I’ve yet to have a taker. If you are a business owner or manager, I hope you find this article helpful.


Lessons from the Trenches: Tips for a bulletproof noncompete agreement

By Jim Sobeck

Non-competition agreements — or “noncompetes,” as they are more commonly known — are illegal in some states and are almost always controversial, because no employee ever likes to sign one. However, as an employer, I require  noncompetes from management because they have intimate knowledge of the inner workings of our business. They know who we buy from, who we sell to, what prices we charge, who our top customers are and many other trade secrets and confidential supplier deals. A competitor armed with this information would materially damage our business.

For most of the same reasons, we require noncompete agreements from our salespeople. Another major reason is that we provide liberal expense accounts for our salespeople to entertain customers. It’s unfair for our salespeople to build relationships with their customers using company expense accounts and then leave the company and compete with us.

If someone won’t sign the agreement, we won’t hire them. Many things are negotiable during the hiring process, but not this. This is probably the only thing that is sacrosanct to us.

A lot of times you will hear that the noncompetes don’t hold up in court. That is true — if they aren’t written properly based on the laws of the state where you do business. For a noncompete to be enforceable in most states:

  • It cannot be overly broad
  • It must be short in duration
  • Consideration must be given

Let’s examine each of the above points. By “overly broad,” I mean a noncompete can’t state that the employee can’t work for any competitor, direct or indirect, anywhere in the United States. Our agreement states that our employees can’t work for a direct competitor within a 60-mile radius of where they worked for us. Several courts have upheld our noncompetes because the judges found that the restriction was not overly broad.

“Short in duration” means no longer than one year. Our agreement calls for our employees to not work for a direct competitor, within a 60-mile radius, within the first year of leaving our employment. Our noncompete also states that our salespeople cannot solicit business from customers to which they were assigned for two years. This has also been upheld in several courts.

“Consideration” can mean a bonus for signing the agreement — but in our case, we condition our job offer upon getting a signed noncompete. Courts consider the job offer to be consideration provided that the applicant signs the noncompete prior to the first day of employment. If a company asks an employee to sign a noncompete agreement after already being employed, then consideration, in the form of a cash bonus, must be paid for the agreement to be valid. Courts feel that if an employee accepted a bonus to sign the agreement, then the agreement should be upheld because consideration was given.

Believe it or not, people have told me they signed a noncompete agreement after being employed as long as 15 years and not only didn’t receive consideration, but were threatened with termination if they didn’t sign. Unsurprisingly, courts view that such agreements were signed under duress and declare them invalid.

This information comes from 40+ years of experience, but I am not an attorney, so do not rely on my advice for your company. If you are considering using a noncompetition agreement, I urge you to find a good labor lawyer in your area to draft it.


In closing, I want to again wish all our readers a Happy Thanksgiving. We are always grateful for your support, and we are even more thankful in a year like this.

Best wishes,

Jim Sobeck
President & CEO 864-263-4377 (Direct Line)
jim.sobeck@newsouthsupply.com
Connect with us: Twitter | YouTube | Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram

Author of The Real Business 101: Lessons From the Trenches
Get your copy below.
For Smashwords (eBook version for Kindle, iPad, Nook) click here
For direct link to Amazon site (Kindle and print version) click here

October 2020 Newsletter


>> New South eNews
New South Construction Supply
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New South News

Dear Friends,

As this most unusual of years continues to unfold the construction economy continues to be one of the few winners, at least for many segments of construction. Residential construction continues to boom as does warehouse construction. Some hotel jobs that were on hold are now proceeding. the presidential election is only about a week away, and the winner will have a definite effect on our industry, for better or worse.

Product pricing has been fairly stable with only a few exceptions, notably lumber. See below for more details.

There are a few notables worth mentioning regarding some of our commodity products. Scrap metal posted flat at $280/ton in mid-October with no change from the prior month. This flat posting has helped keep pricing stable since the increase in mid-September occurred. With the winter month’s coming and the seasonal industry slowdown upon us, rebar pricing will be something we monitor closely. If scrap prices remain flat and market demand goes down, there may be potential for softening prices in the coming months.

Demand has not been an issue with regards to wire mesh consumption. Mills are reporting very heavy activity over the past few weeks with orders continuing to come in at a steady pace. We believe the surge in residential construction has been a leading factor in the increase. 10ga wire, in both rolls and sheets, have been hot commodities and orders for these two products continue to flow into the mills. The recent surge has impacted lead times, particularly on wire mesh rolls. Rolls are being shipped out as soon as they are coming out of production and lead times can stretch out to two weeks or more. Pricing has remained steady since the two increases pushed through in September, and we expect it to stay that way moving into November.

Polyethylene is another commodity that has seen a surge in demand and increases on lead times. Production facilities are still recovering from the down time due to the hurricanes and are struggling to manufacture material fast enough. Depending on the factory’s location and the availability of raw materials, lead times for certain sizes are stretching out to three and four weeks. There is very little available sitting inventory with most orders being purchased off future manufacturing. Relief may come due to the seasonal slowdown, but for now poly remains a fast moving and highly demanded product.

Lumber finally crested over the peak and is quickly moving downwards. Not all sizes and species are falling at the same rate, but there is a general softening within the lumber market. SYP 2×8’s and 2×10’s are among the fastest falling items. These two sizes, mainly in #2 grade, are in ample supply with the production mills and lumber brokers eager to move excess inventory. SYP 2×4’s are also dropping, but not nearly at the same rate as the 2×8’s or 2×10’s. Current pricing may still seem high on certain sizes, but once the older, more expensive lumber purchased during the rising market is moved out of inventory, pricing to the end user should also decrease. Barring any unexpected setbacks at the mills that would hinder production, we should continue to see lumber correct itself from the craziest summer in recent history.

We did get one price increase notice since the last newsletter. Euclid Chemical made customers aware of a pending price increase. Effective January 1, 2021, Euclid will implement a 3% price change on all construction product packaged goods. Any orders place on or after January 1 st will reflect the new pricing. New pricing for 2021 should be available for quoting by mid-December.

Construction costs moved up sharply in September, while bid prices dipped, as indicated by producer price indexes (PPIs) that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) posted on October 14. AGC posted tables showing PPIs relevant to construction. The PPI for new nonresidential building construction—a measure of the price that contractors say they would charge to build a fixed set of buildings—edged down 0.2% for the month, not seasonally adjusted. The year-over-year (y/y) gain of 1.7% was the smallest in more than three years.

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

Catching up with our Customers

David DiPietro and Matt Meister of Carolina Foundations, Inc. are this month’s featured customers in our Catching up with our Customers series. New South Construction Supply has worked with David and Matt for years, and their residential concrete contractor business of nine years prides itself on honesty, systems and top-quality work.

During the Q&A,  we interviewed Matt, a Partner alongside David, where we focused on the booming Charleston economy and home building efforts underway. If you haven’t been to Charleston recently or if you’re curious about residential construction in the Lowcountry, give this Q&A a read to discover just how quickly this area is growing.


Featured Manufacturers

Euclid

Makers of Chemicals and Aggregates for the Concrete Industry


 

Spyder

Manufacturer of blades and attachments that work as long and hard as you do

 

Makita

Manufacturer of power tools, drill bits, blades, and other equipment


Associate Profile
 


Lynn Moore
Regional Manager, Southeast

This month’s Associate Profile is of Lynn Moore, Regional Manager over our Columbia and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Charlotte, Greensboro, and Raleigh, North Carolina branches. Originally from Columbia, he is a graduate from Brookland-Cayce High School and the University of South Carolina, where he holds a BS in Marketing. Lynn and his wife Carrie have three children, and his hobbies include rugby, traveling, working out, and being a fan at his children’s games and performances. Lynn has been in the building materials business since 1995 and has been a great addition to our team. Get in touch with him at Lynn.Moore@newsouthsupply.com.

Our management article this month is on time management, a crucial skill for any effective manager. My latest column in the Upstate (Greenville, SC) Business Journal has my top tips on how to be a more effective time manager. https://lnkd.in/eF_3y3A


Lessons from the Trenches: 6 tips to keep time on your side

By Jim Sobeck

There have probably been more books written about time management than any other business-related subject. Almost everyone feels like they can do a better job at managing their time. Time is the only commodity that cannot be replaced. Once you waste 15 minutes, it is wasted forever. I hate it when people tell me, “I couldn’t find the time.” I am quick to point out that time is not found, it is made.

Here are a few time management tips that I have discovered over the years:

Take care of the important before the urgent. Many of us take care of urgent tasks while important tasks go undone. I have made a spreadsheet with four quadrants, which I use as my time planner. On the vertical axis is “important” and “not important,” and on the horizontal axis is “urgent” and “not urgent.” I spend most of my time in the top left quadrant — tasks that are both urgent and important. My second priority is tasks which are important but not urgent; my third priority is tasks which are urgent but not important; and my last priority is tasks which are neither urgent nor important. When you focus on mainly the upper left quadrant, that’s where you get the best results.

Use something like the Task function in Microsoft Outlook. You don’t have to use Outlook, but use something like it so you can put all of your tasks into it and get reminders when you need to start working on each task. Once I have put a task into Outlook, I forget about it because I know Outlook will remind me to do it so that I don’t miss the due date.

Tackle first things first. A lot of people are tempted to first knock off a bunch of easy tasks on their daily “to do” list so that they can feel good about seeing a lot of items crossed off. Resist that temptation. You will be much more productive if you attack the toughest tasks first, provided they are both urgent and important.

One bite at a time. Tackle big projects one bite at a time. If you have a project that is going to take eight hours, it won’t be quite as daunting if you do it in four two-hour increments over one week. Plus you’ll end up with a better product, as each time you work on the project you will refine the work you have previously done. It’s just like in school; if you cram the night before a test your grade is never as good as if you studied for a week instead of the night before. Plus the task doesn’t seem that tough when you break it up this way.

Under-promise and over-deliver. When you agree to take on a task, don’t be aggressive in saying when you can have it done. If you think you can have it done in a week, say it will be done in two weeks, and then if you deliver it in 10 days it looks like you delivered on the project early. Obviously, you can only do this when the deadline isn’t time sensitive.

Don’t overcommit yourself. I am constantly asked to be on boards and committees. I enjoy doing this, but I only have so many hours in the day, so I turn down most of them. You have to learn how to say no or you will end up stressed out and doing a lot of things at the last minute — and that is never when you do your best work.


That’s all for this month. If you’re like me, you can’t wait to get this election behind us, if for no other reason than to stop the barrage of campaign attack ads. Hopefully, whoever is elected will be good for the construction industry.

Best regards,

Jim Sobeck
President & CEO 864-263-4377 (Direct Line)
jim.sobeck@newsouthsupply.com
Connect with us: Twitter | YouTube | Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram

Author of The Real Business 101: Lessons From the Trenches
Get your copy below.
For Smashwords (eBook version for Kindle, iPad, Nook) click here
For direct link to Amazon site (Kindle and print version) click here


 

September 2020 Newsletter


>> New South eNews
New South Construction Supply
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New South News

Dear Friends,

As this unusual year continues to unfold, the construction industry continues to remain strong. Single- family home construction and resales are booming, and many commercial project starts that were on hold are now moving forward. Fingers crossed for a vaccine breakthrough and for Covid-19 to end so we can all get back to “normal.”

I am pleased with the positive construction news; however, this also results in a downside: price increases. See below for more info on that.

The rumors of a price increase on rebar came to fruition the second week of September. Scrap prices continue to rise and posted up $45/ton to start September causing an adjustment from the mills. With the hike in scrap prices, CMC Steel led the way and pushed through a $40 per ton increase on rebar the second week of September. By the end of the next week both Nucor Corporation and Gerdau followed suit. With scrap in shorter supply and global demand increasing, we expect this price increase to hold and this may only be the first round of increases. Multiple signs are pointing to another increase coming in mid-October. Scrap pricing is expected to continue to climb and is currently outpacing rebar pricing by $10 – $20 per ton. That variance in cost is being monitored by the mills, and the market could see another increase to bring those costs closer together.

There has been no change in current wire mesh pricing after last month’s 7-9% increase went into effect. Pricing has remained stable over the past few weeks, but like rebar, scrap prices are having an impact on production costs. No official announcements on price increases have been released yet, but we expect two or three manufacturing mills in the Southeast to announce another price increase in the coming weeks. Now would be a good time to place any stocking or project-based orders to beat the pending
increase.

Polyethylene continues the trend of increases in commodity goods. The recent hurricanes in the gulf have had a major impact on production lead time and the distribution of raw materials. Much of the country’s poly sheeting is manufactured in Texas and the back to back hurricanes put almost a two week hold on production. Lead time for truckloads of poly are now exceeding three or four weeks. We have already received one price increase with an approximate increase of 6% pending. This increase is being pushed through mainly due to the multiple increases in resin costs the manufacturers have absorbed over the past few months. Price increases will go into effect on any orders placed after October 12th, with all orders placed for immediate shipment before October 9 th being billed at current costs.

Lumber pricing remains high moving into the fall season. On a positive note, more loads seem to be available and covering needs has not been as difficult as the prior few months. Pricing, while still high, has seemed to stabilize for the time being and the historical climb since April has plateaued a bit. We expect pricing to remain high for the short term, but are hopeful relief is in sight. Lumber pricing typically softens in the winter months with reduced demand and the hope is that trend continues this winter.

Here are a few other manufacturers of note that have announced upcoming price increases:

Wire Bond, a leading manufacturer of masonry reinforcing and accessories, has announced a price increase on wire items that will go into effect in mid-October. The estimated increase is expected to be 10-12%. The major reason for the increase is scrap metal being in short supply and high demand.

Specified Technologies has released a price increase notice on their firestopping products for 2021. An increase to not exceed 3.5% on most products will go into effect on January 1, 2021. This increase is based on increases in raw materials, transportation, and general operating costs.

We will continue to update you with any additional price increases or market changes.

Construction costs diverged again in August, as indicated by producer price indexes (PPIs) that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) posted on September 10. AGC posted tables showing PPIs relevant to construction. The PPI for new nonresidential building construction or “bid price” index—a measure of the price that contractors say they would charge to build a fixed set of buildings—slipped 0.3% for the month, not seasonally adjusted, and is up just 0.1% since April. Meanwhile, the PPI for inputs to new nonresidential construction rose 0.7% in August, for a four-month gain of 4.1%. The PPI for new residential construction climbed 1.8% in August and 4.9% over four months. Compared to August 2019, the PPI for new nonresidential building construction increased 2.0% year-over-year (y/y), while the PPI for inputs to new construction inched up 0.1% for nonresidential and rose 2.5% for residential. Items important to construction with large 1- or 12-month changes include: lumber and plywood, up 11% for the month and 27% y/y; copper and brass mill shapes, 3.2% and 7.9%, respectively; diesel fuel, 5.9% and -7.3%; aluminum mill shapes, 1.7% and -9.8%; and steel mill products, -1.7% and -11%.

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

Catching up with our Customers

Featured in this month’s Catching Up With Customers Q&A installment, meet Mike Turner and John Bueltel of Cornerstone Masonry Group LLC. After interviewing John (President) and Mike (VP), it is clear they are most proud of their dedicated and hard-working employees who are integrated into every part of their business. Whether they are working on Cornerstone Masonry projects throughout the southeast, the Cornerstone Masonry church mission in Honduras, or as mechanics for Cornerstone’s American Flat Track Series Motorcycle Racing Team, they know they can count on them to get the job done, similarly to how they count on New South every day to supply their masonry construction needs. Read the full Q&A by visiting our website. There, you will learn more about the two competitors who became partners, combined their vast knowledge of industry and craft, and turned it into the reputable business they have today.


Featured Manufacturers

SpecChem

Makers of Chemicals and Aggregates for the Concrete Industry


 

Spyder

Manufacturer of blades and attachments that work as long and hard as you do

 

Makita

Manufacturer of power tools, drill bits, blades, and other equipment


NSCS Associate Updates


This month we gave $5,000 bonuses to five of our CDL drivers, Ron Conover (Greenville), Scott Haas (Columbia), Tom Twiddy (Greensboro), Eric Singleton (Charleston), and Grady Sutton (Raleigh). We give our CDL drivers $5,000 bonuses for every five years of service to say thank you after years of loyalty, safe driving and working hard for our customers. Our drivers are the face of our company to most customers as we deliver most of what we sell. These gentlemen represent us extremely well and were very deserving of these bonuses. Click here to see all of the photos of our drivers receiving their recent bonus checks.


Associate Profile
 


Dylan Logan
Manager in Training, Greenville, SC

Our Associate Spotlight this month is of Dylan Logan, a Manager in Training in our Greenville branch. Dylan was born in Hackettstown, NJ and graduated from Mauldin High School, near Greenville. He then earned his B.S. in Criminal Justice from Clemson University in 2019. Prior to joining us back in June he was the manager of a car wash in Simpsonville, SC and was also a Facilities Specialist at Brookwood Church. Dylan enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, watching Clemson football, working out, and spending time with friends. Dylan is one of the fastest learners we’ve ever hired, and he’s made an immediate positive impact on the Greenville branch.

Our management article this month is, Ideas for Supporting Remote Workers and Workplace Culture. With many companies still not back in the office there are challenges with perpetuating your company’s culture among remote workers. There are several good ideas in this article to help with that issue.


Ideas for supporting remote workers, workplace culture

By Will Bunch

In the early months after Submittable, a Missoula, Mont.-based software company that employs about 100 people, shut down its office because of the coronavirus and told employees to work from home, people manager Asta So spent a lot of time figuring out how and when to bring workers back. But as the pandemic dragged on, her focus has increasingly been on boosting the morale and gauging the work/life balance of homebound employees.

“One of the things I’m trying to figure out is how to keep our culture,” So says. One of her recent projects was “trying to get 15 random employees to get shaved ice in this park near our office—to go outside and, socially distanced, see people that they don’t normally get to see, to cultivate more spontaneous or impulsive interactions.”

In the beginning of the COVID-19 shutdown, So and her teams also organized virtual lunch get- togethers, though lately there’s been some “Zoom fatigue.” Now, some teams are establishing lunch hours where people make sure to go offline or trying to arrange one-on-one meetings in safe outdoor locations—although, “with winter coming, it’s going to be more tricky.”

None of this was in the training manual for So—or for any other HR executive—when they signed up for people management. As the extended pandemic not only triggered lengthy shutdowns but also inspired many firms to announce full-time work from home options for many or all employees, people managers needed creative solutions to brand-new problems. Do workers have the right technology, ergonomic chairs or other logistical support? How do you foster a collaborative culture when workers aren’t in the same place? And what about workers who struggle emotionally with being home alone?

“The biggest problem is isolation: How do you force these collaborative pathways?” says Nancy Rothbard, professor of management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. She says one of the biggest new tasks for HR is to work closely with middle managers to make sure they have the right tools and apps, and a smart strategy, to make teamwork happen remotely. “The virtual watercooler is needed,” Rothbard says, “but it may feel weird to managers, and so you will need to create models.”

Rothbard also notes that companies saving money from downsizing offices or expenses such as maintenance need to think about ways to reinvest some of these dollars on the new needs of employees working from home. Some firms are already doing that, including ServiceNow, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based software company, which early in the pandemic gave each homebound employee $500 to spend on wellness needs, then expanded the payout to $700 to address other issues such as technology for workers’ kids learning from home.

Karen Drosky, a vice president for human resources at ServiceNow, says monthly wellness surveys have been critical. “Those wellness surveys informed us what we needed to do to make employees happier,” she says. “They told us what they needed.” ServiceNow also employs gimmicks such as a contest for the best “staycation,” because the tech firm—like many of its rivals—worried that locked-down employees weren’t using their time off.

Submittable’s So says she also directs considerable attention to keeping the workforce both energized and connected without an office, taking formerly in-house features like exercise classes or lunchtime-discussion groups onto platforms such as Zoom. “We’re trying to translate all the things we used to do in-person to online,” she says.

Alex Alonso, the chief knowledge officer at the Society of Human Resource Management, says it’s important for HR leaders to be patient, realize the pandemic may not end quickly and be flexible. “I would ask most HR officers, people managers and other business leaders to think about what happens in the pandemic that you’re going to make permanent,” he says, “and, rather than just thinking in terms of cost and operations, think about what kind of cognitive work to take from this so when the next situation arises, you’re ready to deal with any number of challenges that arise.”


In closing, with every day that passes we get closer to getting back to normal. Until then we just need to keep on keeping on. Thank you for your continued support.

Best regards,

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