June 2020 Newsletter

June 2020 Newsletter


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New South News

Dear Friends,

As I write this the economy continues to recover as businesses continue to reopen. There will be winners and losers in the “new normal”. Single family housing continues to boom as some people leave dense urban areas for the suburbs and as mortgage rates hover around record lows. Warehouses and eCommerce fulfillment centers also are seeing a surge in construction. Multi-family and retail construction has seen a slowdown.

Pricing for most of the products we sell continues to be mostly static. See below for more details.

Rebar has once again remained flat since our last newsletter. While the demand has increased, it has not yet reached a point to disrupt availability and stock levels at the mills. Ample supply and short lead times from the mills have helped prevent any mention of a price increase. Scrap pricing did rebound slightly, but not enough to warrant any additional movement from the mills. Domestic steel is still dominating the US market, but as rebar demand softens around the world, the potential for foreign mills to drop prices to move product to the United States will be in play. Import tariffs are still providing domestic mills an advantage over import bar, but if foreign mills continue to drop prices to move product, we may start to see that advantage dissipate.

Availability and production remain strong for wire mesh as well. The major mills servicing our Southeast market have been steady on pricing and lead times. Most standard gauges and sizes can ship out within three to five days. The main issue on lead time is the availability of flatbed trucks, not a lack of product on the ground. With spring and summer comes produce season, and with produce season comes the yearly truck shortage as farmers will pay truckers more to haul perishable goods versus building products that don’t have a shelf life. As long as trucks are available, both wire mesh and rebar lead times should be minimal. With that said, we can expect wire mesh pricing to remain steady for the next month or two.

Nothing major has changed since our last report in regard to polyethylene sheeting. Prices have not moved since last month’s softening. There are still some opportunities to be found, but the market has stabilized from last month’s slight slide. Lead times on full truck loads are still staying steady at roughly two weeks. Most orders are being produced after the order has been placed, so the expectation for two-week lead times will continue for the foreseeable future.

Lumber is a commodity that has seen the greatest movement in the last month. Lumber, especially SYP, has seen a sharp increase over the past few weeks. Availability has been severely impacted from the mill curtailments and there is little available stock on the ground. Most orders are being taken and fulfilled off of future runs. #3 grade lumber has seen the most impact. Mill ‘no quotes’ on #3 grade lumber are much more common than what they were just a few weeks ago. Typical lead times for lumber are roughly two weeks with #3 grade stretching out to over 3 weeks in certain circumstances.

There is only one major price increase to note since our last newsletter. Sonoco, a leading manufacturer of tubes and cores for concrete forming, announced a minimum price increase of 8%. This price increase will be implemented on July 15, 2020.

On June 10, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) posted producer price indexes (PPIs) for May. AGC posted tables showing PPIs relevant to construction. The PPI for inputs to construction—a measure of both goods (55%) and services (45%) used in every type of construction—increased 0.6%, not seasonally adjusted, from April to May, following a 2.9% drop from March to April.

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

“Catching up with our Customers”

Meet Teddy Acosta Lopez of Costa Concrete Construction, LLC, this month’s featured customer in our Catching up with our Customers series. Teddy is a loyal NSCS customer who has known his NSCS representative, Steve Melton, for over 20 years now.

Teddy and his company are busy as ever, especially during Covid. Starting in the business in 1999, Teddy always knew one day he wanted to have his own company. He ultimately found success by putting his head down, learning all the different parts of the job, and working his way up in the industry. Ultimately, this led to him the launch of Costa Concrete Construction in 2017, where he and his employees primarily work on residential home sites in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

During our interview, Teddy explained how he loves a challenge, and when it comes to the concrete industry, Teddy first-hand knows there is no time to mess around, especially with the complicated and intricate jobs Costa Concrete Construction completes. When concrete takes off, it takes off, so doing the job right and on-time is critical to Teddy and his team.

And why New South? Teddy has worked with NSCS for years because of the customer service and delivery options. It is not always the price, rather it is more about the scheduling, the delivery, and the fact that NSCS will be there when you need it — even if that means working nights or weekends to get the job done.

Read the full Q&A of Teddy by visiting the NSCS website, and see why he says “he pours his heart and soul into each and every day.”


Featured Manufacturers


Innovative products for the masonry industry

Euclid Chemical

Makers of Chemicals and Aggregates for the Concrete Industry

Surface Shields

Surface Protection for Construction


Associate Profile

Neal Moseley
Outside Salesperson, Charlotte, NC

Our Associate Spotlight this month is of Neal Moseley, an outside salesperson based out of our Charlotte branch. Neal is a native of Greenville, SC where he graduated from Christ Church Episcopal School. He then moved on to Clemson University where he earned a B. S. degree in Business Management. Neal is single and his hobbies are golf, basketball, and traveling. Prior to joining us last November he was in the apparel manufacturing and marketing business for twelve years. Neal has been a quick study and his customers have commented on his fast follow up and great attitude. We’re glad to have Neal on our team.

This month’s leadership article is titled, How to Give Feedback Like a Boss. Part of leading people is providing feedback. How you do that is crucial to your success if you want to stay in management. I think you’ll get some great new ideas from this article.

How to Give Feedback Like a Boss

By Napthali Hoff

1. Be positive. If your intention is genuine and you can convey this to the employee, there’s a good chance your feedback will be effective.

2. Be immediate. Give the feedback while the individual can act on it. Waiting until the end of the week or, worse, the annual performance review doesn’t help the person make mid-course corrections.

3. Be honest. Say what needs to be said rather than dance around the issue. Avoid the “sandwich technique,” which aims to couch criticism in praise.

4. Be specific. To reiterate, identify the specifics of what went wrong or could be improved and discuss your expectations for how his/her behavior should change.

5. Be suggestive.Where possible, stay in suggestive mode by using words like “maybe” and “you could” instead of demanding terms such as “you must,” “from now on, always …” etc. If you are giving positive feedback, simply saying “good job” is not enough. Be specific about the behaviors you observed.

6. Be empathic. Maybe the employee is running into obstacles, or maybe the employee doesn’t have the right tools or systems to do the work. Once you understand the reasons behind the performance issue, you can work to minimize or remove the obstacles. This approach will go a long way towards building the relationship and building a culture of feedback.

7. Be growth-oriented. The primary purpose of feedback should not be assessment. Rather, it should be on coaching employees to grow and set new goals. Once goals are set, use them as a baseline for future conversations with a focus on how the employee is progressing towards his/her goals. If insufficient progress is being made, use the conversation to figure out why and what can be done to help get things on track.

8. Be reasonable. Even if there are many correctable items that you’d like to discuss, avoid overloading. Too much information will only dilute the conversation and reduce its effectiveness. Choose the two or three most important elements that require attention and leave all others alone. Less is more.

9. Be objective. Put personal feelings aside and seek to describe the behavior, not the personality. When you see a behavior or series of behaviors that you don’t like, focus your comments there rather than on the actor’s character. For example, conversation with someone who is habitually late should focus on the person’s tardiness (“I’ve noticed that arrived late to the office six times over the past two weeks,”) rather than be used as a referendum on their character (“It seems that you struggle with time management.”) As we’ve previously discussed, adding a piece about the result (“When you are late, the rest of us need to pick up the slack while also attending to your own duties”) can help clarify the problem and motivate change.

10. Offer the tool as well as the observation. When you see a problem or have identified a way to improve performance, be sure to suggest a tool or useful strategy as well. People most appreciate feedback that helps them solve problems and improve. Offering a tool says that you truly care and want to empower them to do their very best.

That’s all for this month. I hope to have more good news next month. Thanks for your business and never hesitate to let me know how we can better serve you. I’m all ears!

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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