Prodealers are building materials suppliers whose client base comes mostly from the homebuilding industry. Because they represent an important channel for wood products, a 2007 survey of US prodealers examined (1) lumber attributes demanded, (2) products and suppliers requirements, (3) trends in substitution between countries supplying lumber to the United States, and (4) trends toward prefabrication of structural components. Forty-six prodealers were surveyed; most answered for multiple stores. On average, respondents purchased 60 million board feet of lumber in 2007, and their overall consumption was estimated at 2.76 billion board feet. By far, the most common grade in the prodealer segment is dimension lumber (No. 2 and Better), and the most common type is the spruce-pine-fir species group (SPF). Within the sample, 5 percent of US lumber imports came from offshore. Canada supplied 51 percent of the lumber purchased by respondents, and the United States supplied 47 percent. Wane as well as warp and twist were consistently identified as the most challenging lumber attributes for prodealers. Product quality was identified as a primary reason for changing lumber suppliers. In characterizing properties of the dimension lumber imported from Europe to the United States, it was found that European lumber stands out mostly for visual appearance and low wane. For customer support and timely deliveries, respondents tended to favor US mills. The study suggests that customers are not fully satisfied with lumber, especially with regard to wane and straightness, and that lumber quality issues may be more important today than in the past.

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Author notes

The authors are, respectively, Research Scientists, Forest Products Marketing, FPInnovations, Québec City, Québec, Canada ([email protected], [email protected]); and Group Leader, Markets and Economics, FPInnovations, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada ([email protected]). This paper was received for publication in June 2009. Article no. 10636.