If you’ve been following this series, you know that many factors contribute to lumber pricing.
- In Part 1, we looked at how the timing of an order contributes to pricing, due to overhead expenses.
- Then in Part 2, we considered how both seasonal shifts and board width make a difference in the price you’re given.
- In Parts 3 and 4, we evaluated typical North American assumptions about board thickness as well as board length, compared these to global norms, and discussed how those issues affect cost.
- Then in Part 5, we discussed regional variations, government regulations, shipping costs, and how all those issues figure in.
Unfortunately, there’s no algorithm for how all these influences will add up — and, believe it or not, there’s another factor we have yet to discuss: order size.
Wholesale vs. Retail Lumber Pricing
While in some industries, there may be a hard line between the size order that constitutes “wholesale” pricing as opposed to retail, but in the lumber industry, there is no strict division between the two. It may vary from one supplier to the next, but it’s also combined with so many other factors. And, again, much of it boils down to the fact that lumber is a natural resource with natural variations. Depending on your grade specifications and size requirements (thickness, width, and length), pulling 1000 board feet may require us to open dozens of packs of lumber. At the same time, though, smaller orders can require even more labor per board, including breaking packs and pulling paperwork from each.
How Order Size Intersects with Other Factors
A huge factor that is certainly impacted by size of order (but also by species, grade, and other specifications) is that every time a pack is broken up, the remaining lumber in that pack loses value. And then we go back to Part 1 of this series, where timing is highly significant: if your order comes first, and we can get it all pulled from a single pack, it requires less overhead expense. Regardless of the size of the next order we receive, if it requires us to open multiple packs, the added overhead will be translated into added cost. So while your order size will affect your lumber pricing, it combines with other factors, too. The whole thing is quite a bit more nuanced than any of us wish it were.
And the whole scenario about lumber pricing and the many aspects that affect it is precisely why you can’t simply place an order online; instead, you need to have a dialogue with your lumber supplier. Now, go have that ordering conversation!