Nailing Down the Status of Local Lumber and Construction

Kelsey Olson, Marketing and Communications Specialist headed out on a snowy day to Perkins Lumber in Spicer and Monson Lumber in Hawick. Like the construction industry, nothing kept staff from being ready and working despite snow-blown roads.

As I entered Shawn Oman’s office, Estimator at Perkins Lumber, I first noticed blueprints of a proposed new home laid out neatly, a notepad with figures written on it, and in between the ink and paper, a dream becoming a reality for a family someplace. “The first thing I do when someone comes in is ask them, ‘What are your goals and budget?’ then I work with them to make those two things come together.”

Founded in 1938, 86 years ago, Perkins holds the knowledge and experience to speak on the reality of the construction industry today and provide insight on future predictions. “Over the last 15 months, prices have returned to normal,” Oman said, “Commodity pricing, things like wall sheeting and lumber itself, are all normalizing, back to half of what they were during COVID, but concrete, HVAC, electrical supplies are all still bouncing around.” When asked why these items had some unpredictability, Oman suggested the supply chain and a weak workforce in the lumber and construction supply industry may be contributors. Locations don’t have the staff they used to, so products take longer to produce. He also stated factors like a lack of truck drivers for transporting goods and even extreme weather events can cause prices to rise quickly.

Overall, though, the state of construction is looking good. “We’re in a good area. We are seeing people having new builds and also building additions; people want to stay here.” And so true: reliable contractors, scenic lots, and convenient cities with amenities make Kandiyohi County a great place to live. As I left Perkin’s Lumber, Oman said, “It’s going to be a great building season,” and I waved goodbye headed towards Hawick.

Pulling up to Monson Lumber, I notice the hours are early, opening up at 7 a.m., and ready to serve! Owners since 1994, Richard Rooney and Jeff Monson, greet me at the door and we dive into their thoughts on the state of the local lumber and construction industry. “Prices are higher,” started Monson, “but they might always seem high after the near all time low that was seen about two years before COVID.” His partner adds “But products aren’t too hard to get like they have been in the past, and most contractors know now to order things right away when they start a project.” They explain that there are projects scheduled to start this year, but they are currently providing more estimates than anything. “People are weighing their options,” said Rooney “It’s a hard guess right now what lumber prices will do compared to the interest rate, folks debate the price of commodities and lumber to that of the interest rate.” Rooney predicts that if the interest rate drops, so will the price of lumber, while contrary to that idea, Monson predicts that if the interest rate drops, lumber will increase.

Both agree that, like nearly everything else, prices will slowly continue to increase over time. “The weather has been great,” Richard says, smiling. “The spring will be great, and it’s going to be a good building season. Now is a great time to start a project.” And Monson nods in agreement.

Overall, the state of local lumber and commodities is reported to be relatively stable by Monson Lumber and Perkins Lumber, and both agree on the prediction that this upcoming spring and summer will offer a great building season in Kandiyohi County.

This article originally appeared in the April 2024 edition of the KCED Newsletter. 

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