If there’s one thing that’s been discovered during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s the fragility of supply chains and production processes. A combination of COVID-related shutdowns at lumber mills, wildfires, pests that kill softwood trees and similar factors have caused lumber production to stall.
At the same time, a bustling housing market has caused new construction and renovations to increase lumber demand significantly. Typically a somewhat tame commodity, lumber prices have increased four-fold or more in many cases. What can lumberyards do to source lumber during shortages? Richard VanDeWalle Jr has some answers.
Richard VanDeWalle Jr: Sourcing Lumber and Hope During Extreme Shortages
With a population of 1541, most people wouldn’t notice Blue Grass, Iowa as being much more than a wide spot in the road. But hidden behind its Midwestern appearance, complete with a Subway and BP Station in the complex, is an industry-leading employee focused on the lumber industry.
Richard VanDeWalle Jr, a local who entered the lumber industry at age 16, attended trade school for business and accounting as well as receiving additional education in Lumber Industry and Inventory Management, and likes to fish on the weekends, like many from the area.
Pandemic Demand for Home Improvements
When the COVID-19 pandemic began to cause issues with the lumber industry’s available supply, Richard VanDeWalle Jr used his education to start figuring out where to source lumber. Seeing the increasing demand in 2020, he observed steady increases in lumber prices as well as diminishing supply. As people were stuck at home, they started taking on new projects to make their time at home more enjoyable.
“Nonstop. Every day. We got people building decks every day, redoing their basements, kitchens, remodeling,” Richard VanDeWalle Jr remembers. This has caused higher service fees, difficulty finding materials and longer completion times for remodeling, repair and new home contractors. The family lumberyard, Dick-n-Sons Lumber, is one of the oldest in the state, and also has a long history of serving as a valued asset in the community.
Lumberyards across the nation should take note of the success, mission, and values held by Richard VanDeWalle Jr. As lumberyards search for ways to keep up with lumber demands, it can greatly help to learn from those businesses that are already finding success and growth like Dick-N-Sons.