July 2021 Newsletter


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New South News

Dear Friends,

Our big news this month is that we have hired Abhi Singh as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. A veteran in the building materials industry, Abhi comes to us from Mid-Am Building Supply, a leading two-step building materials distributor serving 10 states in the Midwest. While there, he was Vice President of Sales and Marketing and led a team that grew sales over $100 million in less than three years. Prior to Mid-Am, he served as Managing Director of Harvey Commercial Solutions in New England, Senior VP of A.H. Harris & Sons Construction Supplies (East Coast), General Manager of J&H Aitcheson – a division of Hajoca Corporation (Metropolitan Washington, DC), and had his own construction supply business in Baltimore, MD – Atlantic Supply Corporation. Earlier in his career, he held a series of senior regional leadership roles for White Cap Construction Supply, Hughes Supply and Ferguson Enterprises, respectively. A graduate of Kent State University, Abhi is now based out of the Greenville, SC company headquarters.

I also want to announce that we are now offering a $500 payment to anyone who lets us know about a person who we end up hiring for any of our open positions. See https://www.newsouthsupply.com/careers/ for our current openings.

We’re in the middle of summer now and construction continues to boom in almost all market segments except for road and bridge work. Talk about an infrastructure bill continues in Washington, but as of this writing, nothing has happened. If an infrastructure bill does pass expect rebar prices to jump significantly. For a detailed look at product pricing, scroll down:

Supply chain and manufacturing issues continue to impact the flow of goods throughout the construction industry. Demand levels remain extremely high with manufacturing and production struggling to keep up. The market and industry remain extremely strong and busy, but the strain on the flow of material does bring some unease to the industry overall. 

Rebar remains in extremely high demand and tight supply. All four major rebar manufacturers in the southeast are reporting large backlogs, little to no sitting inventory, and a continual flow of incoming purchase orders for more material. Lead times are running at a month’s time after purchase order is placed and future production of certain diameters and lengths have already been sold for August. With a recent influx of import rebar hitting the Southeast, the hope is for the import bar to help supplement some of the pent-up demand. If that can happen, we may be able to see some reprieve on the supply side. The rebar market will remain strained for the short term, but the hope is for inventory to become more free flowing late third quarter or early fourth quarter. 

An alternative to traditional steel rebar is now available from Owens Corning, the $7 billion a year maker of roofing and insulation. We are stocking their residential “pink bar” now and can get their commercial Mateen Bar from their plant in Concord, NC. Their rebar is lighter and stronger than regular rebar, plus it doesn’t rust. Our customers who are using it, love it. Give us a call if you’d like a quote.

Wire mesh reinforcing continues to struggle to catch up to industry demand. Wire rod availability remains a major issue and production is outpacing the arrival of more raw materials. Lead times are out to almost four months depending on gauge and size. Another price increase was pushed through early July and that increase will continue to impact pricing for the next few months. Wire mesh issues are expected to continue through the end of the year and into first quarter of 2022.

We made a major buy of wire mesh recently and should be able to meet the needs of our customers through year end. If you need wire mesh for an upcoming project, place your orders as soon as you know your needs to guarantee supply. 

There was little change in polyethylene sheeting from last month’s report in terms of lead times. Straight loads of single size and gauge material are shipping in three or four weeks, with loads of mixed sizes and gauges running roughly a week longer. Pricing did see an increase to start the month, with many manufacturers pushing through a $0.05 per pound increase effective July 6th. 

The lumber industry continues to soften. Buyers have not been as frantic to find availability and have begun trying to work down higher price inventory purchased over the past few months. Some lower pricing SYP is beginning to be realized downstream in the industry, but expectations are for it to fully be recognized in a few weeks. The recent production curtailment of SPF released by a Canadian producer may slow that species’ softening and possibly cause a pricing bounce. The wildfires currently burning in Western Canada have severely impacted the transportation and production capabilities of Canadian sawmills.

The gulf between contractors’ costs and pricing continued to widen again in June. The producer price index (PPI) for new nonresidential building construction—a measure of the price that contractors say they would charge to build a fixed set of buildings—increased 0.4% from May and 3.4% year-over-year (y/y) since June 2020, while the PPI for material and service inputs to construction industries jumped 3.8% and 26.3%, respectively, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on Tuesday. There were double and even triple-digit percentage y/y increases for numerous inputs: diesel fuel, 127% y/y; lumber and plywood, 101%; steel mill products, 88%; copper and brass mill shapes, 61%; aluminum mill shapes, 33%; plastic construction products, 22%; gypsum products, 18%; truck transportation of freight, 15%; asphalt felt and coatings, 11%; and insulation materials,10%.

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 segment of Catching up with our Customers, we speak with Rob Strobel, President at Lithko Contracting, LLC. Lithko was founded in the 1990s after a group of concrete construction professionals sought to disrupt the concrete industry by creating a company with a close-to-home strategy in mind. Since then, Lithko has become one of the country’s largest concrete contractors, earning them the #2 spot on ENR’s Top Concrete Contractor list for the last 4 years. Read the full Q&A here to learn more about how Lithko differentiates themselves from competitors, a few incredible projects they are excited about, and their company mission that is focused on excellence.

Featured Manufacturers


Premier Supplier of Reinforced Poly, Debris Netting, Wood Chamfer, and Vapor Barriers


Makers of Chemicals and Aggregates for the Concrete Industry


Premier Supplier of Insulations, Sealants, and Weatherization Products

Associate Profile

Megan Weber
Rebar Estimator/Detailer, Atlanta

This month’s associate profile is of Megan Weber, a rebar estimator/detailer in our Tucker, GA (Atlanta) branch. Prior to joining us Megan was a manager at SWFL Maintenance Company from 2004-2006, Senior Rebar Detailer at a construction supply company from 2007-2021. A native of Fort Myers, FL, Megan is an International Baccalaureate Graduate from Fort Myers High School and holds an associate degree in Business Management with a focus on Construction Management from Florida SouthWestern State College. She also has an Emergency Medical Technical Certificate. She and her husband Bobby (who is in sales for us) have three daughters. She enjoys spending time with her daughters, coaching and playing soccer with her girls, baking, cooking, hiking, camping, boating, and photography. Megan has been a great addition to our team.

Our leadership article this month is entitled, Acknowledging and Encouraging, by legendary leadership consultant, Ken Blanchard. In this article, Ken reiterates his famous advice about catching people doing things right versus wrong.

Acknowledging and Encouraging

By Ken Blanchard

Most leaders genuinely intend to manage people well. Unfortunately, many of them fail to engage and motivate others. Why? I believe it’s because you can’t just hope to be a good leader; you have to consistently practice proven leader behaviors.

There are a set of directive and supportive behaviors leaders can employ to help both people and their organization thrive.  We call these leader behaviors SLII® micro skills.

Of all the supportive SLII® behaviors, my favorite is Acknowledging and Encouraging. If I could only use one management tool for the rest of my life, it would be this:  Catch People Doing Things Right.

Acknowledging Is a Learned Skill

Too often people feel they are working in a vacuum, because no matter how well they perform, nobody notices. Or, if their manager notices, they make overly general comments, such as, “I appreciate your efforts” or “thanks for the good job.” While that’s better than saying nothing, it doesn’t do a whole lot to motivate the person or help that person feel valued.

Do it quickly and in detail. For acknowledgment to be effective, it needs to be immediate and specific. When you notice a job well done, tell the person as soon as possible exactly what they did right. For example:

“When I was called away last week and couldn’t lead the department meeting, you stepped up, asked me for the agenda, and led the team through each item.”

State your feelings. Next, tell the person how what they did impacted you. Don’t intellectualize. State your gut feelings:

“We didn’t miss a single deliverable. I felt so relieved and supported. You made me and the whole department look good. Thank you!”

Notice how much more effective that is than merely saying, “Thanks. Good job.”

To Encourage, Try Praising People

I ask audiences all the time: “How many of you are sick and tired of all the praisings you get at work?” Everybody laughs, because to most of us, praising does not come naturally. Thousands of years of evolution have wired our brains to search for what isn’t right: Is that a stick on the trail or a venomous snake? Is the wind moving that bush or is it a bear? Our tendency to focus on what isn’t right is a protective mechanism. Unfortunately, it makes us more likely to catch each other doing things wrong.

Take marriage, for example. When you first fall in love, your partner can do no wrong. But after a time you notice what bugs you and you start saying things like, “I can’t believe you could make such a stupid mistake!” Far from motivating your partner, comments like these discourage and shut them down.

Praise, on the other hand, is inherently motivating. Research has shown that praise triggers the hypothalamus and releases dopamine, the feel-good chemical in our brains.

Being close counts. You don’t have to wait for exactly the right behavior before praising someone. Even if a person is doing something approximately right, it’s important to recognize their effort.

Suppose your child is just learning to speak and you want to teach him to say, “Give me a glass of water, please.” If you wait until he says the whole sentence before you give him any water, your kid is going to die of thirst! So you start off by saying, “Water! Water!” And when your kid says “waller,” you jump up and down, kiss the boy, and get Grandma on the phone so she can hear him say “waller.” It isn’t “water” but at this stage, you praise him anyway.

You don’t want your kid going into a restaurant at age 21 and asking for a glass of waller, so after a while you only accept the word “water” and then you start on “please.”

Think of encouragement in the same way. In the beginning, catch people doing things approximately right. As their skills develop, gradually move them toward higher levels of competence.

A Positive Cycle 

The importance of acknowledging people’s efforts and encouraging their progress cannot be overstated. These leader behaviors set up a positive cycle: Your praise helps people feel good about themselves. People who feel good about themselves produce good results—and people who produce good results feel good about themselves.

So generate some positive energy and help people reach their full potential. Catch people doing things right!

Until next month I hope you and your business are prospering. As always, don’t hesitate to let me know how we can better serve you. Thank you for your business.

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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