Local Lumber Yards Feeling the Pinch

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

Colorado lumber yards say they're feeling the pinch as construction companies build fewer and fewer homes. In the past two years, about a dozen lumber yards across the state have gone under, including two here on the Western Slope.

Valley Lumber General Manager Aaron Gorsuch says business these days is not what it used to be.

"Here at our location, we're about thirty percent less than we normally would be this time of year," said Gorsuch.

Other lumber yards say their business is not much better.

"New construction has really slowed down," said Larry Benson, a manager at Sutherlands. "The remodeling business has slowed a little bit as well."

Businesses say with consumer confidence low and banks becoming more strict with loans and mortgages, the demand for new houses just isn't there. And if the construction companies aren't building new houses, they aren't buying lumber.

"It's all complicated, but it all is really about housing sales," said Gorsuch.

For some, sluggish sales have meant the end. Foxworth-Galbraith Lumber just closed its stores in Grand Junction and Delta this January. Others, however, say there's just enough business to get by, and they're lucky to be selling in a market buffered by the energy industry.

"There are a lot of other stores we have in different parts of the country where the economy is much worse off than what we have here," said Benson. "So we're fortunate to be where we're at."

And they say not all is lost. Sutherlands says plumbing, electrical, and heating sales are up, offsetting some of their losses. Valley Lumber says it's still seeing some success in commercial construction. Gorsuch says he's seeing other indicators that things could be turning for the better.

"The amount of plans we have coming in to bid seem more than last month and etcetera," said Gorsuch.

In the meantime businesses say they'll just have to hold out until things do get better.

"Whoever can weather the storm the longest when this is all over is going to be really successful," said Benson. "We hope to be standing in that spot."

Stores say another sign that the Grand Junction market is faring better than most -- 84 Lumber recently closed six stores across the state, but kept its Grand Junction location open.

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