February 2020 Newsletter

February 2020 Newsletter

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New South News

Dear Friends,

Rain, rain, go away! February has had a windy and wet start as the southeast has been pounded with rain and storms for the better part of February. Case in point, this month our home office in Greenville, SC experienced more rainfall in just three days than the historical monthly average. The record amount of rain seems to be the norm for many areas across the Carolinas and Georgia. Even with the recent weather, the overall feeling coming out of the World of Concrete show in Las Vegas was a very positive one. Both manufacturers and distributors were all talking about a very strong January paired with a strong backlog moving into the spring season. While progress may have slowed due to the recent weather conditions, it certainly is not impacting the industry’s positive feelings for 2020.  See below for a more detailed look at current product pricing.

February brought some consistency to pricing on the commodity front. Scrap rebar actually posted down $20 in early February finishing at $277 per ton. There will probably be little to no impact on current pricing as the recent drop is minor compared to the past few months’ run up in cost. The three major rebar mills in our markets are holding prices and will wait to see how demand and scrap pricing continues to trend over the next month.

Wire mesh is following much of the same pattern as rebar. Demand still remains strong and mills are sticking to their recent price increases that were pushed through in late 2019 and early 2020. Inventory remains strong and most mills are able to ship material three to five days after receiving orders.

Lumber continues to see its slow and gradual pattern of price increases. Pricing can vary up or down from week to week, but the overall net has been a slight increase. Inventory continues to be tight with lead times running roughly two or three weeks depending on the grade and size. We have seen the most impact on availability in the #3 grade SYP market. 2×4’s and 2×8’s are running at roughly a three week lead time with 2×10’s being very difficult to find at all. These grades are not being produced at the same high rate they were this time last year, so we’re having to jump on any trucks that come available.

There were a few price increase notices released by manufacturers in February.

Laticrete, a nationwide supplier and manufacturer of concrete repair and concrete chemicals, released a price increase notice in early February. Laticrete will be implementing an average price increase of 2.9% This will go into effect on March 1, 2020 and will impact all product groups. Laticrete listed a significant increase on raw materials as the need for the increase.

Wire Bond has also announced a pending price increase. Three consecutive months of wire rod, raw material costs, and transportation costs have caused the need for an increase. Effective February 24, 2020, there will be an increase on all mill galvanized and hot dipped steel products. Orders placed before that date will be protected from the increase as long as they ship before March 13, 2020. Any orders placed after February 24th will reflect the new pricing.

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

We recently concluded our annual customer satisfaction survey and I want to thank the participants for giving us such great scores. Thank you!

We saw that over 50% of the respondents wished we had an online portal where you can receive invoices, look up old invoices, and pay your bills. Well we do, and we have had it for over five years. I guess we have done a poor job of making that known. If you want to sign up for it there are directions on the bottom of each of our invoices.

Also, over 50% of our customers don’t know we have a large social media presence. If you are on social media, please follow us and we’ll follow you back. Links to all our social channels are below. Please also look at our YouTube site. We have well over 1000 videos on the site with installation videos for most of the major products we sell.

Featured Manufacturers

Hohmann & Barnard

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

J.D. Russell

Manufacturers and distributers of quality construction materials and landscape edging products.

click image below for full sized ad!

A Worldwide Leader in Trench Drain Systems


Associate Profile


Luis Colon
Rebar Fabricator, Atlanta GA

Our associate profile this month is of Luis “Lu” Colon a rebar fabricator at our Atlanta branch. Lu was born in Puerto Rico and graduated from North Point High School in Waldorf, Maryland. Lu has three children, daughters Amora (10), Saliyah (9), and a son, Lorenzo (1). In his spare time, he enjoys working on cars, working with tools, and spending time with his family. Before joining us in September of 2018 he worked at TNG Prologic Logistics, was a driver at the Atlanta Airport, and was a heavy equipment operator at Oldcastle Precast. Lu is an incredibly hard worker and leads by example. He also has an infectious positive attitude that rubs off on all who are around him. We are very lucky to have an associate like Lu!

Our Leadership article this month is, Leadership Has Changed- Have you? Leadership in the 21st century has changed from how it was done in the 20th century. If you are a baby boomer like me, have you changed from how you led back then? If not, I urge you to read this article.

Leadership has changed. Have you?

By Wally Bock

It seems like we’ve been waiting for “21st century leadership” for a long, long time. Peter Drucker saw it as part of a major transformation to a knowledge economy. He thought that transformation began with the GI Bill after World War II. In 1992, he wrote that “If history is any guide, this transformation will not be completed until 2010 or 2020.” OK, it’s 2020.

In 2007, Gary Hamel and Bill Breen asked us to cast our mind ahead a decade and imagine what management and leadership would be like. Other writers have chimed in with predictions and observations. The question is, are we there yet?

Some Things Don’t Change

The most important things about leadership haven’t changed for centuries. They won’t change in this one. Great leaders accomplish a mission through a team. Great leaders care for team members and help them grow and develop. That won’t change in the 21st century. But the context and the challenges will be different.

In the last quarter century, we’ve glimpsed the impact of three great shifts. They are happening below the surface. But they transform the challenges that 21st century leaders must meet.

The Shift from All the Same and All Together to Difference and Distance

Once upon a time, you could count on the people who worked where you did to look like you, talk like you, and have the same values that you learned growing up. No more.

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 transformed US demographics. Now, you are likely to work with people who grew up in cultures different from Western European cultures. For many, English is a second language. You’re more likely to work for a company with headquarters in another country. You’re more likely do business across borders.

Once upon a time, almost all work was full-time work. Oh, sure, some people took part-time jobs to supplement their income, but “real” work was full-time work. No more. Today, our workforce is a mix of full-time, part-time, and gig workers. If you’re a leader, that changes your challenges.

But wait, as they say in the infomercials, there’s more. Once upon a time, everybody on a team worked in the same place. Those days are gone. Today, you’re likely to work on a team with several people who work away from the rest of the team some or all the time. That changes the challenges, too.

The Shift from Leader as Expert to Leader as Enabler

Once upon a time, we promoted the expert machine operator to be the foreman. That made sense when the leader’s primary job was to make sure that the work was done correctly. But that’s not how it is today.

Today, more and more workers are knowledge workers. Knowledge workers analyze things, make decisions, and act on their decisions. Most often, they know more about the work they do than their team leader knows. If you’re that team leader, that means you must change the way you work.

If you lead a team of knowledge workers, your job is to help them do great work, not tell them how to do it. Pay attention to the social support component of an effective team. The team environment should provide support for members and psychological safety. Just like in the old days, your job is still to help the team and the team members succeed. Now, though, you won’t know how to do their work. Your challenge is to help them do it better anyway.

The Shift from Well-Oiled Machine to Complex Adaptive Systems

Early in my business career, I helped construct mathematical models that were at the core of our long-range plan. “Long-range” in that context meant, “10 years.” Hardly anyone would think about planning over that time horizon today.

Consider how it would be if you were charged with constructing a long-range plan in 2000. There would be technology advances you couldn’t possibly foresee.  The introduction of the iPhone was in the future. So were Facebook and Twitter and their impact on business and society. You couldn’t predict historical events, like 9/11 and the Great Recession.

Planning 5 or 10 years out works if the environment and competition remain essentially the same. That’s not true anymore, though. Today, things change rapidly.

The result is that you must be different as a leader. Instead of constructing a great plan and then implementing it with only slight tweaks, you must be agile.  You must be able to spot important changes and adapt to meet the challenges they present.

Are We There Yet?

“21st century leadership” has been coming for a while. We’re not there yet, though. We can see the shape of how things are developing, but most of us still need to dig in, learn, and think about how we should lead differently.

If you’re going to get this, you must be a leader who is a reader. Here are some suggestions about where to start.

The science fiction writer William Gibson says that, “The future is already here. It’s just unevenly-distributed.” Find examples of the future that’s already here.  Then adapt the practices that seem best for you. Here are three books that give you a place to start.

Under New Management by David Burkus

It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

The Future of Management by Gary Hamel and Bill Breen

Read books about specific challenges you face. Here are a couple of suggestions.

Challenged by leading a virtual team? Pick up Kevin Eikenberry and Wayne Turmel’s book, The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership.

If you want the low-down on how to manage a team of people with mixed heritage and values, your best bet is Melissa Lamson’s book, The New Global Manager.

Those books describe how to understand specific issues or solve specific problems. You also should learn how to get from an industrial-style leadership to a 21st century-style leadership.

I recommend General Stanley McChrystal’s book, Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World. It’s about how McChrystal and the Special Operations Task Force in Iraq shifted the way they worked. In addition to his experience, McChrystal filled the book with expert observations and opinions by others.

Bottom Line

We know what 21st Century leadership looks like, but we’re not there yet. Think about the challenges of the three great shifts. Read broadly. Identify examples the future that are already here.


That’s all for this month. Thanks again for your very generous scores on our customer satisfaction survey. We will work even harder to live up to your assessment of us.

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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