June 2019 Newsletter

June 2019 Newsletter



New South News

Dear Friends,

With the rain largely staying away in the Carolinas and Georgia, the last few weeks have been very good for construction. Hopefully that will continue for the balance of the summer, although late afternoon thunderstorms are par for the course in our market area.

The overall economy continues to be strong, and as I am writing this on June 20 the stock market set another record high. I see no reason why 2019 shouldn’t be another very good year for construction.

Despite the market being strong price increases continue to be few and far between. See below for more details.

Summer is here and the large backlog of work from the winter and spring is only starting to break loose. The construction industry as a whole is quite strong, but the movement of construction materials has been slower than expected coming out of spring and winter. One part of the industry that has seen this impact their business the most is the lumber market. Low demand, paired with high levels of production, have had a major impact on lumber pricing. As a result, Canfor, one of North America’s leading lumber producers, announced significant temporary reductions at almost all British Columbia sawmills. This curtailment will be anywhere from two weeks to six weeks depending on the mill. The market reacted accordingly with demand spiking and pricing solidifying or raising depending on the size and species while buyers scrambled to cover existing and future inventory needs.

Rebar pricing remained flat again moving through June with scrap prices continuing to decrease slightly over the same time period. Production remains high and rebar mills are running with high to adequate stocking levels to fulfill most orders coming in. There may be some delay on larger diameter bar depending on roll schedules, but most standard sizes are available with quicker turn around times on delivery. Even with last month’s tariff reduction on Turkish rebar, imported rebar is still struggling to gain a foothold in the market. The cost of import bar still has not reached a level that it is desirable over available domestic bar.

Domestic reinforcing mesh is another market that has softened a bit over the past two months. High inventory levels and high production from the winter and spring has softened the wire reinforcing market some. Prices are staying level or dropping slightly. Now is a very good time to purchase reinforcing wire for either stock or projects coming up in the next few months.   

The recent softening of prices doesn’t carry across all materials within our industry though. A few manufacturers have announced price increases for the coming months. Most of these manufacturers cited the recent tariff increases on imported items originating from China as the main culprit.


Mar-Mac Industries, Inc., an industry leading manufacturer of various metal items, announced a price increase scheduled for June 19, 2019. This will be an increase of 15% on their CONTRACTOR brand of nail stakes, foundation chairs, and anchor bolts. This increase will impact all orders shipping on or after the June 19th date.

Newborn Brothers Co., Inc, a supplier of caulking guns, tools, and accessories, is also implementing a price increase in coming weeks. They state the new environmental and regulatory laws in China as well as the second round of tariffs as the main reason for the increase. This increase will range from products with no change to products seeing as much as a 10% increase.

Chapin has also announced a price increase after monitoring the new tariff situation. Chapin is a manufacturer of sprayers and spreaders for the construction industry.  A 9.9% increase on all spreaders and a 6.7% increase on all Chapin sprayers and parts (excluding metal sprayers) will be implemented on July 1, 2019. They do state that 30 days after the temporary tariffs are removed, this increase will be eliminated.  

Contractors’ bid prices dipped in May, while materials and service input costs were flat for the month, based on the latest producer price indexes (PPIs). 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—slipped 0.1% for the month but increased by 5.4% year-over-year (y/y) from May 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on June 11.

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

Our featured suppliers this month are:

  • Raven
  • Wire-Bond
  • Euclid

Our associate profile this month is of Barrett Cooke, Vice President of Finance and IT.

Our management article this month is, How Leaders Help Team Members Support Each Other. There are some great tips here on how to get the most out of your team.

In closing, I hope you are also benefiting from the strong economy. Some economists are calling for a slowdown in 2020 so I recommend tightening up operations, replacing marginal performers, and socking some money away for a rainy day. I hope I’m being overly pessimistic but, in any event, doing the above won’t hurt you and should help.

Featured Manufacturers


Producer of construction films – poly, vapor barriers, and liners

Innovative products for the masonry industry.

Euclid Chemical

Makers of Chemicals and Aggregates for the Concrete Industry


Associate Profile

Barrett Cooke
Vice President of Finance and IT

Barrett replaced my son Jimmy who left after 15 years to move to New York to get married. Barrett and Jimmy worked side-by-side for about four months before he left and we haven’t missed a beat. Barrett was born and raised in Boone, NC and received his B.A. and his Masters in Accounting from NC State University. He is a CPA and worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers for seven years before working in the private sector for the last nine years. He and his wife Cassandra have two boys-Emerson (12) and Bennett (10). In his down time he enjoys watching and coaching his sons in sports, doing yard work, and binge watching TV shows with his wife. Losing a 15 year incumbent in such a key position was of great concern to me, but no longer. Everyone who has met Barrett has been impressed. If you haven’t met him, when you do, you will be as well.

June’s Management Article

 How Leaders Help Team Members Support Each Other
By Mike Monroe

“It’s amazing what you can accomplish as long as you don’t care who gets credit.”
Harry Truman spoke these words, and they quickly became a mantra for competitive teams. Great players want to play with great players. Talented colleagues want to work alongside their equals.

Here’s the catch, though: As a manager, it’s your job to cultivate camaraderie. And you better own your responsibility, because without structure and purpose, your most talented workers will happily bounce.

So if you’re feeling dissension, it’s time to stop blaming your squad, look hard in the mirror and facilitate some old-fashioned “we’re in it to win it” teamwork.

Creating effective teams

Great teamwork facilitators are chronic communicators and bridge-builders. Most managers don’t take this to heart, which is why Visix statistics indicate that three quarters of employers want their workers to collaborate but only 18% of employees receive feedback regarding their communication skills.

Unless you’re invested and telling people things like, “This is Jade — you’re going to wish you had her 60 hours a week. Use her time wisely,” you’ll never get the most from your people. By focusing on setting up talented folks for success, you’re planting the seeds for them to grow into confident, autonomous culture bearers.

Recently, we divided my company’s content team into internal and external production. I headed up the former. On Tuesday, I tweaked my schedule; on Wednesday, I handed the reins to my No. 2. But I didn’t just say, “Good luck!” I gave everyone a vision of how I expected team members to treat one another. Now, they’re killing it.

This isn’t to suggest that you can’t bring in an outside teamwork facilitator. Aligning everyone’s duties for optimal function might be better handled by an objective outsider. Hiring a professional facilitator isn’t an admission that you can’t do your job: In fact, it can be a smart move to get the benefits that come from high-performing, engaged teams.

How to facilitate teamwork

If you’ve ever been around a truly admirable team that seemed to work intuitively, you’ll never forget the experience. They buzz when on Slack, interact without hesitation and seem to know exactly what to do next. Even when their performance isn’t on display, they do the right thing and take calculated risks. Energy flows, results show and the company wins.

Want to get your team’s motor running the same way? Follow some proven tactics to make sure your team’s objectives are met:

1. Be a competent manager.
Nothing wounds a stellar culture than the cluelessness of an incompetent manager. Instead of hiding behind ignorance, seek knowledge all day, every day. And be sure to admit when you don’t know something and you need more information. You’ll gain trust from your team members much faster if you stay honest and play to your strengths.

2. Hire likable employees.
Regardless of how much you buy in to the adage, “Hire for culture; train for skill,” you need to build a team of personable people. Not sure how to gauge someone’s likability? We’ve found that tryout interviews expose red flags very quickly. Use similar strategies to identify people you think work well in a group together.

3. Stop being a control freak.
There’s nothing worse than a manager who pretends to give work away and then continually pops back in with last-minute overrides. That causes stress and reduces performance among team members. Work to set all your expectations upfront, then delegate tasks and stay out of the fray.

4. Communicate what “great” looks like.
Speaking of setting expectations, be sure you do so as clearly as possible. People might not understand what you want if you take only a moment to explain. It’s important to make your targets achievable, but not for a loner. People work together more effectively when they feel like a target is too far above them to complete on their own.

5. Treat everyone like family.
It’s on you to care about your people and treat them with respect, just as you would your kids. Children only learn to argue and fight when they’re given the example, after all. Be like Alex Cora, the Boston Red Sox manager who facilitated a team of champions. How did he do it? As one player noted to ESPN, Cora “just has a way of making you believe.”

Every team in your department could become the stuff legends are made of. They just need some help to find their rhythm. Once they do, you can stand back and watch the magic happen.

That’s it for this month. I hope your business is booming and that you will think of us when you need quality building materials.

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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