November 2020 Newsletter


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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
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


 

August 2020 Newsletter


>> New South eNews
New South Construction Supply

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New South News

Dear Friends,

Construction continues to be the brightest part of the overall economy, especially here in the Sunbelt. Housing starts and existing home sales continue to boom. The only downside is that lumber mills expected their sales to plummet when the pandemic hit so they shut down some mills, but the opposite happened. People leaving densely populated large cities in the Northeast and North Central US started buying homes in the Southeast and people sheltering in place decided it was a good time to build a deck or other home improvement projects. This strained the reduced lumber supply chain, so prices doubled, and availability became a problem.

See below for a closer look at pricing trends for the main products we sell.

Rebar continues to remain stable for now, but there is potential for a price increase mid to late September. Domestic scrap prices have rebounded and are estimated to increase in September by twenty or thirty dollars per gross ton. A main driver in the scrap rebound has been a healthy export market. US domestic scrap is in high demand internationally and has resulted in higher prices on material being exported. The overall shortage of domestic scrap being produced coupled with some of the available inventory being exported has tightened supply and strengthened the price. There has not been anything firm coming out of the major Southeastern mills, but talk has picked up regarding pending price increases. We would recommend taking advantage of current rebar pricing now before the chance of an increase occurs in a few weeks.

Wire mesh reinforcing seems to be a little ahead of rebar on pending price increases. We have already seen one major manufacturer implement a price increase and expect the other mills to follow in the coming weeks. Mills are reporting a significant increase in orders over the past few months and business seems to be really kicking into gear. With the increase in orders, we are starting to see some lead times extended. There is less sitting inventory available at the mills, and orders are not always able to ship out promptly. The three- or four-day lead times of the past few months has been extended out to five to ten days depending on the need. One item really being impacted are the 10ga rolls of wire. Rolls are currently in high demand and there is very little, if any, inventory of these. Some mills have even restricted the quantity able to be purchased per truckload. We don’t expect the quantity restrictions to be a long-term issue, but it
will have some impact in the short term.

As stated in last month’s report, polyethylene price increases are now being pushed through by most manufacturers. We have received price increase notices from three major manufacturers and expect to see one or two more before the end of the month. Most of these increases are going into effect in early to mid-September. Increases are varying from 5% to 9% depending on the manufacturer. There are still some deals to be found on some older sitting inventory, but that will soon be depleted, and the new pricing will become the norm moving into the fall and winter seasons.

Lumber continues to climb at a historic pace. Last month we reported that lumber was at an almost all time high at roughly $600 per 1000 board feet. As of this month’s report, the rate is roughly $800 per 1000 board feet smashing last month’s numbers. For 2020 lumber has increased a total of 395 units, equating to over a 97% increase since the beginning of the year. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any reprieve in site. Prices are projected to continue to increase for the foreseeable future.

Lumber is just not in free supply and the mills are nowhere near being able to catch up to backorders and future demand. The lumber market has now become a game of availability. Wholesalers, distributors, and end users are all scrambling to find available material, with little concern regarding pricing. This historic run will continue until either demand drops or availability increases, and we are not expecting either to occur any time soon.

Construction costs diverged again in July, as indicated by producer price indexes (PPIs) that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) posted today. 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—rose 0.8% for the month, not seasonally adjusted, following a 0.3% dip in June. The y/y gain of 2.3% compared with a rise of 5.8% a year earlier.

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

“Catching up with our Customers”

Meet Mike Mattachione of Mattachione Construction Inc., a New South Construction Supply customer based out of Apex, NC, who is this month’s featured customer in our Catching up with our Customers series. Mike is CEO of this construction business that was originally founded by his father in Canton, Ohio. Mattachione Construction works across the Raleigh/Apex, NC region, where they focus on commercial and residential masonry projects. With more than two decades of experience himself, and the company being founded in 1947, Mattachione Construction prides themselves on being full service, turnkey masonry experts, no matter the size of the masonry or concrete construction project. The construction company has worked on all different types of projects, including industrial buildings, restaurants, hospitals, retail stores, apartment buildings and more. We invite you to read his full Q&A by visiting our New South Construction Supply blog.


Featured Manufacturers

Euclid

Makers of Chemicals and Aggregates for the Concrete Industry

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.

Simpson Strong-Tie

Connecting systems for wood, steel, masonry, and concrete

 


Associate Profile


Mason Buffaloe
Manager in Training, Garner (Raleigh), NC

Our Associate Spotlight this month is of Mason Buffaloe, a Manager in Training working in our Garner NC (Raleigh) branch. Mason was born in Guatemala and went to high school at Wake Christian Academy in Raleigh. He then attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he earned degrees in Operations and Supply Chain Management and Management Information Systems. He is single and in his free time he enjoys fishing, skeet shooting, and going to the lake. Prior to joining us in May he worked at Harris Teeter, NC State, and True Homes USA. Mason has a great attitude and is willing to do anything asked of him. We’re looking forward to seeing his career progress.

This month’s leadership article is entitled, How to Prioritize When Everything is a Priority. Prioritization of the tasks assigned to you can be the difference between success and failure. There is a lot of good advice in this article on how to prioritize for success. I hope you like it.


How to prioritize when everything is a priority

By Naphtali Hoff

As leaders, we are faced with many tasks to complete. If we don’t choose carefully, we will often work on the wrong tasks rather than the right ones. By “right,” I mean the tasks that will produce the optimal results and address the most critical issues they face. I also refer to the tasks that we are uniquely qualified and positioned to be working on ourselves instead of delegating to someone else.

When considering what to work on, start with the “big rocks,” the priorities and cornerstones that you first need to “place in your jar” before filling other things (the metaphorical pebbles, sand and water) around it. These could be “one-off” tasks that can be achieved in a single time block (we’ll discuss time blocking later,) or may span several days. If you don’t put the top priorities into your calendar first, all of the other demands will clutter your time and mental bandwidth.

In his “7 Habits of Highly Successful People,” author Stephen R. Covey said it best: “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

The “big rocks” are commonly called “MITs,” or most important tasks. Whatever term you use, it is critical to identify the tasks that will produce the most important results you’re looking to achieve. Not everything on your plate is of equal importance, so don’t treat them equally.

At the beginning of every single day, create a list of two or three MITs, then focus on getting them done as quickly as possible. So as not to get distracted, keep this short list separate from your general to-do list or task-tracking system. I suggest you write them down on a sticky note or index card that you keep positioned squarely in front of you until the list is complete.

One way to start identifying your MITs is to ask yourself these questions:

1. What are the most 2-3 important things that I need to do today?

Another way to ask this is: “What are the things that — if I completed them today — would make the biggest difference for me?” The Pareto Principle (also called the 80/20 Rule) states that 80% of our outcomes comes from 20% of our efforts. Choosing the right place to focus our efforts matters more than we oftentimes think.

2. What is the task’s value or ROI?

To be truly successful, everything that we do must have a value attached to it. While “value” is not always cut and dry, it should be fairly obvious as to which behaviors will predictably provide the biggest benefits.

3. Is it related to your goals?

Goal setting is a critical element in moving the needle and getting more done. Any action that advances your primary goals should be prioritized over those that don’t, assuming that we’re not talking about anything urgent and important.

4. Is it a task that you’ve been thinking about for some time?

Odds are that, the longer you’ve been thinking about something, your mind is telling you that it’s important enough to make this list.

5. Have you been putting it off for too long?

Some of the MITs are the things that we push off the longest. Maybe they’re a bit challenging. Or risky. Something that will push us outside our comfort zones. If you’ve been delaying for these reasons, it’s time to jump in.

6. Is it a task that will free you up to work on your real MITs?

Perhaps the work itself is not super important but can open the way for you to do the most important work. Example: delegating a small project that will help clear your calendar for critical tasks that you couldn’t manage to get to.

Keep in mind that MITs are not things that are most urgent or whatever tempts you in your inbox or chat. We will discuss how to handle those soon. Now that you have your MITs, set an artificial deadline for completing them. If you set a goal, for example, to have all of them done by 10 a.m., you’ll be more focused and complete the day’s most important tasks more quickly than you otherwise would. Then you’ll have the rest of the day to handle anything else that comes up.

Once you’ve put your plan in place, it becomes much easier to say “no” to off-task activities and disruptions, to be present for those who need your prompt input and guidance, and to roll with the punches whenever and however they come.

Remember, you only have so much time and energy each day to get things done. Look through your to-do list right now, and you’ll find that some items are really important, while some aren’t. To be fully impactful, your focus needs to be on completing the tasks that will make the biggest difference first before spending time and energy on anything else.


In closing, I hope you and yours are staying safe during these unusual times and that your business is prospering. As always, don’t hesitate to 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