July 2018 Newsletter

July 2018 Newsletter

 

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July 2018 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

As I write this in late July the economy keeps humming along. Residential and commercial construction took a slight dip last month but most forecasters think it is largely tied to summer vacations as well as a lot of rain in many markets. I think they are correct. At least I hope they are. I don’t want this party to end.

Q2 GDP was announced on July 27 and it was 4.1%.  That is a big improvement over the 1.8% GDP average of the last two administrations and a repudiation of those economists who have been saying that 2% GDP growth is the “new normal”. This can only be good for construction and the overall economy.

On the pricing front, I’m happy to report that after months of unfettered price increases there is some good news to report. There were very few increases in the last month. See below for a closer look.

Unlike prior months in 2018, few manufacturers of construction materials we distribute increased prices or announced price increases in July, which is good news for contractors. The price for scrap steel in July was unchanged from June on the Chicago Metals Exchange and most analysts expect the August posting to be flat, or at most a modest increase, of $10/ton. It appears, at least for the near term, that prices for steel and aluminum construction products have peaked or are near their peak.

Dimensional SYP and SPF lumber and plywood prices fell modestly in July, as demand was less than expected due to many contractors being on vacation and wet conditions through much of the US depressing demand. The price decrease is expected to be short lived as demand should increase substantially in August and analysts expect lumber prices to increase steadily in August. If you have any projects to buy out which require SYP dimensional lumber or plywood, we recommend you place orders as soon as possible to take advantage of the current lower prices.

For the third consecutive month, domestic rebar prices were unchanged in July, although some industry experts had expected domestic mills to increase prices in July due to high demand and because much of their August rollings were sold out. One factor in their decision not to increase prices may have been an investigation by the Department of Commerce launched in late June concerning alleged profiteering by domestic rebar mills from the Section 232 tariffs. With the price for scrap steel being flat in July along with the DOC investigation, most analysts expect domestic mills to hold the line on prices for August.

Polyethylene sheeting prices were unchanged in July; however, due to another resin price increase announced for August, most polyethylene sheeting manufacturers have indicated they will increase prices sometime in August or no later than the first of September between 4 and 6%. If you have projects that specify polyethylene sheeting, we urge you to buy out these projects in early August to avoid paying higher prices later in August or in September.

Nomaco announced on July 3rd that they will increase their prices for Nomaflex polypropylene concrete expansion joints by 7% effective July 28th. Increased costs for polypropylene and transportation were cited by Nomaco as the reasons for the price increase.

Krylon Products Group, a division of Sherwin Williams, notified their distributors on July 13th that they will increase prices on silicone based products by 28% and citrus based products by 20% on August 13th. The worldwide shortage of silicone resins, which has caused prices to skyrocket and increased costs for citrus based raw materials, were noted as the reasons for the double digit price increase.

Concrete reinforcing wire mesh manufacturers are holding the line on pricing after increasing prices by double digits on July 2nd even for jobs with multiple truckloads. In most instances, manufacturers will only honor quotes for 15 days or less and orders must be shipped in 30 days or less from the date of the quote. The current lead time is from one to six weeks depending on the gauge of wire and varies by manufacturer. One manufacturer is currently sold out of all types of concrete reinforcing wire mesh until the second week of September. Due to the extended lead times we strongly urge you to place your order as soon as possible for jobs you have that specify concrete reinforcing wire mesh so that you will have it on site when you need it.

Several more manufacturers and wholesalers of construction products began adding a fuel surcharge to orders in July and many LTL carriers either increased their freight rates in July or notified their customers that they will increase their rates in August. Fuel surcharges and increased freight costs are indirect price increases, which will be passed through to the end users by distributors of building materials.

The producer price index (PPI) for final demand in June, not seasonally adjusted, rose 0.4% from May and 3.4% year-over-year (y/y) from June 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on July 11. AGC posted tables and an explanation focusing on construction prices and costs.

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

Featured Manufacturers

 

Zurn

A Worldwide Leader in Trench Drain Systems

Sika Scofield

The #1 Ranked Brand Name in Decorative Concrete  Color, Texture and Performance Systems

Hohmann & Barnard

A Leading Developer and Distributor of Masonry Reinforcement, Flashing, Anchors, and Air Barrier Systems for Masonry

Associate Profile


Our associate profile this month is of Kyle Osteen. Kyle is a rebar estimator/detailer based out of our W. Columbia, SC branch. Kyle is a Columbia native who graduated from the Sloan’s School in Columbia before working in a variety of construction and real estate positions, most notably CMC Rebar Carolinas where he was an estimator/detailer for six years. Kyle and his wife, Kelly, have been married for 17 years and they have two sons, William (16) and Hank (10). In his free time Kyle likes to hunt and fish as well as the occasional round of golf with his sons. Having an experienced estimator/detailer in-house has already been a big asset to our fabricated rebar business. We are happy to have Kyle on the team.

Our management article this month is, Eight Communication Skills Every Manager Should Master. Some managers mean well but let poor communication skills trip them up. There are some great tips on being an effective communicator in this article.

Lastly, we are posting a lot of information on LinkedIn these days. If you are on LinkedIn and aren’t following us on this social media platform click on https://www.linkedin.com/company/new-south-construction-supply/ and connect with us.


July’s Management Article

Eight Communication Skills Every Manager Should Master

By Joel Garfinkle

A lot of the most common feedback given during performance reviews centers around communication, and chances are some aspect or another has been noted in one of your own discussions with superiors.

Perfecting our won communication style will be a lifelong process — we can always get better and do better, and the more you think about how you’re communicating, the more you’ll notice the styles of those around you and how they affect the people around you. Check in and evaluate your abilities in the areas below.

Be clear
Do people know what you’re saying and where you stand on an issue? Your No.1 priority when speaking or writing to others in your organization is to provide clear and effective communication. Speak plainly and articulate your ideas, concerns and instructions with simple language. Even if you state several other supporting thoughts or issues, be sure to recap with a short statement of your main message.

Be concise
What follows is our next point – be brief. Clarity in your message will lose its punch if you ramble. Keep your statements tight and to the point, so that your idea really hits home. Don’t leave time for people’s minds to wander.

Be thorough
Being thorough probably seems really challenging when you’re also trying to be concise. Try to ask yourself these questions: has it already been said in this conversation? Is this a generally known piece of information? Would a recap of this point help my point or level set the knowledge in the room? Try not to state the obvious, but make sure you briefly cover all the relevant points – confusion comes when you leave out a bit of data that you assume “everyone” knows.

Be thoughtful
Carefully consider your statements before you make them. The purpose of this is twofold – first, you don’t want to be “that person” who is known for chiming in just to say something or hear your own voice; second, be mindful of your audience when sharing your thoughts. Announcing that last year’s numbers were dismal, for example, to a room full of people who worked hard all season is not exactly sensitive or inspirational. Being thoughtful and considerate in how you phrase things will draw people to you, rather than making them feel demotivated or attacked.

Be genuine
You can be thoughtful and still be genuine. Being sensitive to the audience doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t be sincere. People will know if your statements are less than honest so don’t shower false praise or understate difficulty. Instead, be genuine and positive – if you’re trying to solve an issue, fixate on possible solutions rather than belaboring the problem. Be known as someone who cares little for who is “to blame”, but is only interested in how to do better in future.

Be curious
Never forget that communication is not a one-way thing. The best communicators use their curiosity to engage and empower others by asking a lot of questions. Try this: next time someone is sharing a thought, instead of jumping in with your own opinion, ask them questions about their idea. Ask open, thoughtful questions that encourage them to round out their thoughts and broaden their thinking or clarify their points, rather than questions that make you seem skeptical or negative, or them feel attacked. This takes practice, but is a powerful tool in communicating and in making allies in your organization.

Be democratic
When it comes to soliciting ideas and asking questions, be someone who asks for input from those both above and below you. You can learn so much by gathering thoughts from those around you – both those who work for you, and from the managers and executive you report to. It can be tempting to try to go it alone, or only brainstorm in one direction or another, but good ideas can come from anywhere. Communicate with everyone and you’ll learn far more and get ahead more quickly.

Be gracious
Whenever and wherever you learn, be sure to give credit where credit is due. If a great idea came from an employee, a coworker, or an executive, don’t hesitate to say so. When you put the great work of others front and center in a conversation, you both win and everyone benefits from the recognition. People are more likely to engage in conversation with those they know will be generous and gracious in attributing a great idea to the source.

Even if you’re someone who is really on their communication game, you probably see areas for improvement in the above list. That’s normal – most of us have at least a few skills that could use some work. Spend some time noticing the business communication skills and talents of those around you. What do you really admire? What do you wish was different? Use your observations to evaluate and improve your own workplace communication for greater success.


That’s all for this month. As always, never hesitate to let me know how we can better serve you. Thank you for your business!

As always, thank you for your business.

Best regards,

Jim Sobeck
President 864-263-4377
jim.sobeck@newsouthsupply.com
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Author of The Real Business 101: Lessons From the Trenches
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