December 2019 Newsletter

December 2019 Newsletter

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New South News

Dear Friends,

As the year winds down, I want to thank all of our customers and suppliers for another year of record growth. I also want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays and our best wishes for 2020. We will be closed at noon on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve and we will be closed on both Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Work continues to push forward through December with little slowdown due to the holiday season. December weather has been mild compared to years past and construction projects are just as busy now as they have been over the past few months. The construction industry remains strong and looks to continue to be robust in 2020.

As noted in last month’s report, we began seeing signs that there may be some changes regarding rebar pricing. Those signs came to fruition and we can now report that domestic mills have increased their rebar pricing by $30 per ton. The increase in scrap pricing seems to be the main reason for the mills pushing through an increase. As of today, two of the major rebar manufacturers have made the increase public, while one major mill is still waiting to see how the market accepts the increase. If scrap continues to rise as expected, we anticipate all major mills pushing through the price increase and the elevated rebar pricing to stick at least through January.

Metal reinforcing wire mesh also saw a dramatic shift in pricing. Price increases from wire mesh manufacturers are being pushed through at a fairly rapid rate. Three of the major manufacturers in our region have all announced price increases with additional increases being discussed for after the new year. This increase should help stabilize and rebound a market that dealt with a very aggressive and competitive summer. While an increase has occurred, the current numbers are still much lower than this time last year.

To wrap up the commodity updates, both lumber and poly sheeting pricing stayed consistent with November. There was no change at all for poly sheeting pricing and lumber pricing kept the same pricing pattern it has held for the past few months.

Below are a few more price increases set to take effect in early 2020:

Two leading construction chemical manufacturers, BASF and SpecChem, announced price increases for 2020. SpecChem’s new pricing will go into effect on January 1st, 2020 and BASF’s new pricing will be going into effect on February 1, 2020.

Tremron, a national manufacturer of hardscape products, announced that they too will have a price increase effective January 1st, 2020. Increased raw material and shipping costs are stated as the reason for the increase.

Contractors’ bid prices dipped 0.1% from October to November, while materials and services input costs declined 0.4%, based on an AGC analysis of producer price indexes (PPIs) that the Bureau of Labor Statistics posted on December 12. Compared to November 2018, 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 3.7% year-over-year (y/y), the smallest y/y gain in 14 months.

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

Featured Manufacturers


Access Tile

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Sonoco Products

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Producer of construction films – poly, vapor barriers, and liners


Associate Profile


John Blincow
Manager in Training, Greenville, SC

Our associate profile this month is of John Blincow, a Manager in Training at our Greenville, SC branch. John was born in Charleston and went to high school at Woodberry Forest in Orange, VA. He received a B.S. in Supply Chain Management from Clemson in 2018. While at Clemson he worked as an intern at our Charleston branch in 2017. After graduating from Clemson, he worked for Michelin as an Operations Supervisor at their largest distribution center in the world, in Greer, SC. John joined us in February of this year. John is single and his hobbies are hunting, fishing, golf, and Clemson athletics.  John always has a positive, friendly attitude and has been a great addition to our team.

Our December management newsletter is entitled, An Operations Manual on Yourself. This is a series of tips to share with your reports on how best to work with you. I got several good ideas from this article and I bet you will too.

December’s Management Article

An Operations Manual on Yourself

By Stephanie Burns

The dynamics of working with others can be complex. Communication can be murky, things can be   taken out of context and expectations can be misunderstood. It can get even worse when you are   running a team. Years ago, I had an intern tell me that she learned very quickly that if she needed  something from me – email was the way to do it. If she asked me verbally, chances are, with all of   the other things I had to be responsible for I’d forget.

And she was right.

I didn’t realize that was true until she pointed it out. From then on, I made it a point to let anyone on my team or just joining my team know that the best way to communicate with me was via email.

My good friend, Liam Martin, co-founder and CMO of Time Doctor and created an Operations Manual on himself. When I saw the document and the corresponding video to it – it immediately brought me back to this exchange I had with my intern. Liam outlines a lot of different ways that he prefers to be communicated with, as well as how he likes his team to work, how he likes decisions to be made, etc. Brilliant.

The biggest use case for an ops manual on yourself is for communication, as that’s the number one reason things fall apart. Relationships, expectations, projects, plans – they all can go sideways due to communication. Other use cases include procedures, organization, procurement, and project management. When you can get super clear on the best way for people to communicate with you, you’ve just given them weeks if not months of brain space back. They no longer need to try and figure out the best way to work with you – you’ve just solved that intangible and inevitable problem that everyone has when working with a new team member. They can now use that mental energy for their job and other key decisions they need to make. If you’ve outlined how you want them to make decisions – parameters, budgets and speed you expect, this frees up even more time that would be spent “figuring it out.”

So here’s what a sample Self Operations Manual might include:

1. My first preference is email. The reason being is that I can’t keep everything in my head. It’s just too much. When you’ve sent me an email, I now have a written record of your request, update or question. It’s easier for me to keep track and get you what you need.

2. Text Message. If it’s extremely urgent, shoot me a quick text so that I can address what you need. Please don’t use this for random questions – please still use email. If you need me to read an email urgently, feel free to text me asking me to read the email. This is for urgent issues only.

1. I want you to make decisions in your position. I do not want to micromanage you. So please make decisions that you think are best with the information that you have. When you make this decision, I will ask you why you made it and I want to see data or your supported line of thinking in getting there. I don’t want you to be afraid of making decisions – but I do want you to be able to defend them smartly.

2. Please do not make any decisions that would be on my behalf. If it is committing my time, energy or the company’s resources, please do ask me first.

1. I default to nice. I want you to do the same. With as much electronic communication happening in our company, things can be taken out of context. I will always assume that any communication sent electronically is sent with the best of intentions and tone. We don’t have to overuse emojis and exclamation points. Companywide, I expect that every piece of communication is sent with good intentions unless explicitly stated otherwise. Please always read company/team communication as if it were written with a smile.

Problems & Solutions. 
1. If you have a problem that you need to address with me, I am very happy to help and listen. I do request that you always come with your own solution or two. I want to know that you’ve thought through the problem and can provide me with some insight on why we are having this problem and what some outcomes might be with solutions you’ve thought through.

1. If you have a problem that requires money to solve it, you have $200 per quarter to spend without my prior approval. If you need to overnight something to a client, you need a piece of software, you want to take a small course, you have permission to do so without needing approval. If it’s above that amount, please email me what you need, why you need it and how much. We’ll discuss.

The goal of having an operations manual on you is to make it easier for your team to do their job. You’ve taken away a major roadblock (you) and greased the wheels so they can focus on doing their job and innovating their processes.


That’s it for this year.  Happy Holiday season to all and we look forward to wonderful 2020!

Best regards,

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