January 2020 Newsletter

January 2020 Newsletter

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New South News

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year! As I write this the stock market is at record highs, unemployment is at 50-year lows, housing starts are the highest in 12 years, and interest rates and inflation continue to be at very low levels. All the above should result in another great year for construction.

Material pricing inflation continues to be lower than in the past few years. An in-depth look at pricing is below.

Cold weather has finally descended upon the southeast, but the cold weather does not appear to be having much of a negative impact on the construction industry. The milder weather in December allowed jobs to continue through the holiday season and the construction industry seems to be keeping the same pace into January. Expectations of a strong first quarter are being touted throughout the industry.

The colder weather and winter season do seem to be having some impact on a few different industry standard commodities. Rebar generally sees an increase in price over the winter months, and this year is no different. Scrap metal collections slow down each winter and that in turn impacts the availability of raw materials and available inventory at the mills. As a result, all domestic mills in our region pushed through a $30 per ton increase at the beginning of the new year. Some buyers were skeptical that this increase would stick, but after a few weeks of waiting, it appears the price increase is here to stay. This could change as scrap collections increase domestically in the coming warmer months, but the change will probably not cause pricing to revert to what we saw in the summer and fall of 2019. Overall demand remains solid and most distributors and fabricators are reporting strong backlogs heading into the new year.

Scrap pricing and raw material increases have also had an impact on reinforcing wire mesh. This is a product where we are seeing prices increase the quickest. Availability remains strong with most regional mills having ample supply to fulfil orders, but cost of operations and raw materials are really the driving forces behind the increase.

Lumber continues to be slightly up or flat depending on the dimensions needed and the week requested. Pricing could be up or down depending on when or where the request was made, but month over month prices are netting slightly up.

Lastly, polyethylene sheeting continues to remain stable and has been so for almost a year. There are no current signs of this changing much, but manufacturers and raw material suppliers continue to monitor the situation in the Middle East. Any major or dramatic change in oil pricing will certainly have an impact on poly pricing.

Below are a few more price increase notices from manufacturers that were received in January.

MAR-MAC Industries released a price increase announcement on January 13th regarding some of their premium building products. MAR-MAC will have a price increase on tie wire, merchant coils, bar ties, and straight and cut. Black-annealed wire will go up by 2.5% and plastic-coated wire will increase by 2.0%. This increase will go into effect for all shipments on or after February 11, 2020.

Butterfield Color, decorative concrete and colors has also announced a price increase that will go into effect on March 2, 2020. Butterfield will be increasing prices based on product categories instead of a blanket increase across all items. The new pricing will be provided by Butterfield closer to March 2nd.

Dayton Superior is another manufacturer that released a price increase notice in mid-January. Effective March 15th, 2020 an on average 3-4% increase will apply to all accessory products, all forming related accessory products under the Symons brand, and all Dayton/Unitex brand chemical products. Effective February 1st, 2020, a 5% increase on all brace rental rates will also go into effect.

For the first time since March, contractors’ bid prices rose less from November to December (0.1%) than the cost of purchased materials and services (0.5%), based on an AGC analysis of producer price indexes (PPIs) posted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on January 15. For 2019 as a whole, 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 3.8%, compared to 5.4% in 2018.

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

Featured Manufacturers



Innovative products for the masonry industry.


Dow Performance Building Solutions

Premier supplier of insulations, air sealants and weatherization products 

The integration of Dow and DuPont now offers industry-leading brands such as DuPont™ Tyvek® Building Envelope, STYROFOAM™ Extruded Polystyrene (XPS), THERMAX™ (ISO), LIQUIDARMOR™  Flashing and GREAT STUFF™ Sealants as part of one offering. These brands will house a better customer and user experience by providing easy-to-install systems that work together to enhance the building envelope and meet the market’s increased performance expectations.
DuPont PBS (Performance Building Solutions) knows how materials work together – Tyvek®, STYROFOAM™, THERMAX™, LIQUIDARMOR™and GREAT STUFF™ work hand-in-hand to improve water management, energy efficiency and thermal performance, resulting in a durable and energy-efficient building envelope.  Customers can now use DuPont system solutions to help manage bulk water, tighten the building enclosure, reduce the wall condensation potential, and enable appropriate drying within the wall cavity. Insulation, permeable weather resistive barriers, flashing and seleants  are used in effective combinations to improve energy efficiency, thermal comfort and durability of the building envelope.
Dupont will be offering moisture resistant warranties on the THERMAX insulation when Liquid Armor is used to seal the board joints the and window and door openings in the building envelope.  This system serves as an air barrier and a weather resistant barrier
      Thermax Xarmor and Liquid Armor= 15 year moisture penetration warranty
      Thermax Ci and Liquid Armor= 10 year moisture penetration warranty
      Thermax Sheathing and Liquid Armor=5 year moisture penetration warranty


Innovations in Architectural Weatherproofing since 1862


Associate Profile


Tyler Panagakos
Inside Salesperson, Greenville, SC

Our associate profile this month is of Tyler Panagakos, and inside salesperson in our Greenville, SC branch. Tyler was born and raised in Greenville. He graduated from high school at Calvary Christian School and he went on to get a Business Management degree at Greenville Technical College. Tyler is married and his hobbies are racing motorcycles on tracks, bowling, and golf. Prior to joining us Tyler worked for three years as a Portfolio Specialist at Resurgent Capital Services. He started with us a warehouse associate and after a year was promoted into inside sales. Tyler quickly earned a reputation as a “go-to” person in the Greenville branch.

Our management article this month is, How to Have More Impactful One-on-Ones with Your Team. If you do monthly one-on-one meetings with your reports here are some tips on how to make them more effective. I was introduced to one-on-ones early in my career and am a big proponent of these meetings. I urge you to read this article.

December’s Management Article

How to have more impactful one-to-ones with your team.
By Charlie Buckland
As a manager, you can spend most of your time in one-to-one meetings with the team.

Most of these are spent looking back at what’s gone on since your last catch-up or looking at the present with the classic: ‘what have you got on at the moment?’.

When I changed the structure of my one-to-one meetings with my team, it completely changed the relationships I had with them and nearly all of them made a point of saying how much they looked forward to them — can you imagine that!

Only speak business if you have time.

Yes, you read that right.

Let’s face it, anyone who is a manager knows their team will ask them the questions they need when they pop into their head. Whether you’ve got your headphones in or not.

Personally, I prefer to have an ‘open door’ policy with the team (quite easy when you don’t have a door) so that the one-to-one meetings can be spent talking about them rather than working through a list of questions they’ve been storing up.

I think an honest relationship with the team is key. I would tell them if I will be working on something for a little while and would prefer no interruptions. Or, just go sit somewhere else for a little while so that you-at-your-desk = open door.

Always start with ‘how are you?’

Most of us probably do this but how many of us wait to hear the answer?

You’ll be surprised how much people are willing to open up when you ask the questions and shut your mouth for a second. And, if you get the stock answer “I’m fine”, ask again. “How are you, really?”. That usually gives people a shock.

I wanted to make sure my team knew I genuinely cared how they were and asking them when you get into the office or by the coffee machine does not allow someone who may not be okay to tell you about it.

But what if they go on and on for the whole meeting?

It is their meeting. So if they want to talk about their own stuff, let them.

I do caveat this, however. You are not a therapist, counselor or psychiatrist, so if they are going through some issues be clear with them you are there to sign-post and be quite assertive if they seem to be taking little-to-no-action between one conversation and the next.

Feedback, feedback, feedback

The second thing I do in every one-to-one meeting is give feedback, without fail, every time.

If you aren’t working closely enough with someone to have something to give them feedback on, then you’re not the best person to support their development.

The feedback doesn’t have to be anything massive, nor does it have to be “negative”.

Tell them what you liked about a piece of work they did, suggest something they could try differently next time or talk about the behaviour you observed in the team meeting.

Whatever it is, be specific and be constructive. I have a passion (maybe even a fetish) for feedback.

Feedback is a two way street.

I also challenge my team to give me feedback each and every time as well. To begin with, I got blank faces or, “no, everything’s fine”. But when they realized I wasn’t giving up they soon started to come prepared with something, anything, to give me feedback on.

They might tell me what they enjoyed about the last team meeting, tell me about an email I forgot to read or an area they could do with more support on. Over time the feedback got more and more constructive and I learned a lot about my team and what they needed from me.

Every day is a school day

The last question I always ask my team is: “learned anything new?”.

Again, it was a slow starter with most of them looking confused, but they soon learned I wasn’t giving up on that either and to keep saying “no” started to get awkward.

The truth was they were learning but weren’t thinking about it in that way.

I really believe in getting your team to realize they’re learning every time they try something new, do something differently, or speak to someone they didn’t know.

By doing this they will feel 10x more developed despite never going on a 4-day residential course on how to be a complete legend.

So asking this question is one small way to start building a learning culture in your team and to remind your team they are the ones in charge of their development.

One last question…

This one is for you. When walking back to the desk, when getting your 12th coffee, or on your way home. Ask yourself: Did I make a difference?


That’s it for now. Let’s hope for a mild winter so we can come out of the chute strong in 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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