May 2020 Newsletter

May 2020 Newsletter

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New South News

Dear Friends,

As I write this the pandemic appears to have declined in the three states where we have branches. Our showrooms are open again, with all prudent social distancing protocols in place. As this virus reportedly dislikes heat and humidity, our climate, which we normally complain about in the summer, should be conducive to deterring the spread of this disease. At least I hope so. Now we just need the rain to stop!

One big piece of good news is that new homes sales increased in April 0.6% versus a projected decline of 21.9%. It appears many buyers are leaving dense cities for the less dense suburbs. This is not good news for urban apartment builders, but it is great news for single family home builders.

May has brought a slight rebound to the construction industry from April’s slow start. Backlogs across the industry are starting to build slowly back up and there is a welcome positive change in morale. While 2020 has not started like everyone anticipated, the small wins and positive moments need to be celebrated. For as much turmoil that has occurred over the past few months, construction material pricing has stayed pretty consistent except for a few items.

Rebar has continued to remain flat from April’s report. There are multiple factors occurring within the rebar market that would normally create some upward price movement, but all these factors combined have the mills holding steady on rebar pricing. One of the main factors in play is the amount of scrap available domestically. With the major auto manufacturer’s sales down due to the virus, the amount of scrap being produced domestically has dropped significantly. The dramatic drop of scrap availability resulted in Chicago shredded scrap posting up $38 per ton and finishing at $265 per ton. The other side of the coin is current industry demand. Demand is significantly down as projects are delayed or have been put on hold throughout the country. The result of these two factors has resulted in no change in pricing from the mills. As things begin to open back up and demand increases, we could see rebar pricing increase if scrap remains hard to come by.

Wire mesh is following the same pattern as domestic rebar. Raw materials may be harder to find or more expensive, but the demand levels are just not there to institute any form of price increase. Availability remains strong and lead times are down to three or four days depending on size and gauge needed.  We do not expect wire mesh pricing to have much price movement over the next few weeks.

Poly sheeting continues to remain steady. Prices have softened slightly over the past few months due to oil prices dropping, but the decrease has been minimal. However, there have been some opportunities on full load spot purchases to take advantage of some significant savings. These available spot buys are not frequent enough to find a consistent pattern, but they are out there. When they are available the available material is snapped up quickly.

The lumber market is currently one of the outlier commodities. Lumber price was swinging wildly to start the month and has since settled dramatically up from where it began. The mill curtailments are having an impact on supply and as a result, availability has tightened up. SYP has seen a large increase over the past few weeks with demand outpacing production. Both 2×4’s and 2×8’s in both #2 and #3 grade saw prices increase. SYP plywood is also seeing an increase. Stronger demand than production and the pending hurricane season have really impacted plywood pricing.

There were no other major building material manufacturer price increases in May.

On May 13, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) posted producer price indexes (PPIs) for April, calculated from prices gathered around April 10. 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—slid 2.9% from March to April, reflecting the sudden decline in demand for many items, and fell 4.1% year-over-year (y/y) from April 2019 to April 2020. Those were the largest one- and 12-month declines since the series began in December 2014.

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 Josh Beech – Owner of Beech Contractors, LLC, a general contractor company based out of Charleston, SC. Josh is a third generation builder, and he started Beech Contractors part-time in 2014 before taking his company full-time. Josh started the company as he kept getting the calls for work that nobody wanted to do. Suddenly, the market was booming and the demand couldn’t be filled, so that’s when the company started to expand.


If you live in Charleston or follow NSCS on social media, you’ve probably seen or heard of the Low Battery Wall restoration project in Charleston, SC. Josh’s company is spearheading this project alongside KBS Construction, and also works on many other important projects in the Lowcountry. Learn more about Josh and Beech Contractors by reading our full Q&A on our website.

Featured Manufacturers



A Leader in Concrete Cutting Tools and Accessories

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

Alex Harris
Rebar Fabricator, Columbia, SC

Our Associate Spotlight this month is shining on Alex Harris, a rebar fabricator at our Columbia, SC branch. Alex was born in Atlanta, GA and graduated from Newberry (SC) High School and Lander University where he earned a degree in Exercise Science. Alex is single and enjoys going to the gym, hanging out with family and friends, playing video games, and watching sports. Before joining us in October 2017 he worked at Blast Fitness, Amazon, and Kiswire. Alex always has a great attitude and work ethic, so he’s been a welcome addition to the Columbia team.

Our leadership article this month is, Seven Ways to Grow as a Leader. Leadership is greatly needed in these challenging times. I hope you get some new ideas from this article. I did.

7 Ways to grow as a leader

By Lolly Daskal

The best leaders are not born into greatness—they work hard to become great. It’s true of leaders at every level: successful CEOs, executives, directors, managers and supervisors.

And smart leaders understand that they are never done learning, because learning is a lifelong process. They treat learning as an investment in themselves. Here are some of the forms that investment takes:

They’re open to feedback. The best way to invest in yourself as a leader is to be open to feedback. It’s a crucial skill for anyone in a collaborative work environment, and especially for leaders. Engaging with people directly and showing that you truly hear what they are saying is one of the best ways to build strong bonds and make yourself accessible as a leader.

They’re always reading. In my experience, I have found that most great leaders are avid readers—for example, Bill Gates goes away on short retreats with 20 or so books. Whether you’re learning a technical skill, seeking personal development or learning more about someone you admire, reading is one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to invest in yourself.

They learn from their mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes, including leaders. But smart leaders make a point of learning from their mistakes and from the mistakes of others. They’re constantly examining their actions and responses to find ways they can improve.

They grow their network. Leaders are not loners who stay away from other people. On the contrary, they’re always looking for ways to grow their professional network and maintain relations with their colleagues and peers. A strong network can help you stay ahead of industry trends and foster productive collaboration.

They learn how to ask questions. Even if they’re very knowledgeable within their field, most leaders work as generalists. The best leaders understand that people who work with the details every day will have deeper knowledge, and they know that asking questions is a sign of respect and strength, not weakness.

They make time for reflection. No one can function properly without taking some time to stop and think things through. The best leaders make time for reflection, taking pause throughout the day and refocus. It may sometimes feel like a waste of time, but those who practice it regularly find it’s the source of their deepest insights.

They have a coach. Great leaders understand that self-development doesn’t happen in isolation and that investing in themselves requires the support and expertise of others. A compatible coach can help you maximize opportunities and minimize obstacles.

The pace of life is fast, and when it’s already difficult to keep up with the demands of the day it may be hard to imagine carving out even more time for yourself.

But like wise investors, great leaders realize that a good long-term return requires regular investments, even small ones, in the present. And they’re not afraid to spend their time and money on the best practices to help their investment develop and grow.

Lead from within: The strongest investment you can make is an investment in yourself, that is how you get great leadership.

That’s all for this month. I hope to report even better news next month. Until then, stay safe.

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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