February 2021 Newsletter

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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.


A Worldwide Leader in Trench Drain Systems


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