>> February 2016 News
February 2016 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

So far, 2016 continues to be volatile. The stock market has stabilized a bit but has still been on a wild ride so far this year. Oil prices continued to plummet, the Chinese economy is still decelerating, terrorist events continue around the world, and the US presidential election is heating up. Despite all that, the construction economy continues to chug on. Let’s all hope it continues.
 
Due to the above there have not been many price increases for the major products we distribute. For an in-depth look at commodity pricing, see below.
 
There were few price changes for the products we distribute in February and price increases were minimal for the few manufacturers who increased prices or announced price increases.
 
CETCO Building Materials will increase prices on several of their waterproofing products on April 1st. As in the past CETCO will not increase prices “across the board” and will increase prices between 1% and 3% on only the products where their raw material and manufacturing costs have increased since their last price increase. If you are bidding projects which specify CETCO products, please be sure to get a current quote from a distributor.
 
As they have done since December, domestic rebar mills in the southeast continued to hold the line on prices in February and have indicated they will make no price changes for March shipments. Imported rebar prices were basically unchanged in February, although a few brokers did lower prices by 1% or so in mid-February to try and move inventory. Imported rebar prices in March should hold at current levels.
 
Simpson Strong-Tie announced they will adjust prices for their connector, anchor, and fastener items on March 1st. Prices for most items will increase between 2 to 4%. Prices for some items will remain the same and in a few instances will be lower.
 
SpecChem increased prices on some of their products between 1-3% on February 6th, primarily on concrete repair products due to the January 1st Portland cement price increase. Prices for the majority of their products will remain the same as in 2015.
 
SYP and spruce lumber prices were basically unchanged in February, however; most analysts expect lumber prices to increase beginning the first week in March and predict weekly price increases into April, as demand is expected to be stronger than usual in March and April. If you have any projects that require any type of lumber, we strongly urge you to buy out these projects as soon as possible.
 
It appears that Nucor and Gerdau were unable to get the $30.00/ton wire rod price increase in February as other wire rod manufacturers, primarily foreign manufacturers, did not follow Nucor and Gerdau’s lead and increase their prices. Because their cost for wire rod did not increase in February, masonry reinforcing and concrete reinforcing wire mesh manufacturers will not increase prices in March and prices should hold at current levels through April.
 
Polyethylene resin manufacturers were unable to push through a price increase in February and as a result, polyethylene sheeting manufacturers will not increase prices for March shipments. Resin manufacturers will again try to get a price increase in March. If the March resin price increase sticks, expect polyethylene sheeting manufacturers to increase price in early April.
 
The producer price index (PPI) for final demand in January increased 0.3% from December, not seasonally adjusted (0.1%, seasonally adjusted) but fell 0.2% year-over-year (y/y) from January 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on Wednesday. AGC posted tables and an explanation focusing on construction prices and costs.
 
Click here for the latest update on the construction economy from Ken Simonson, the chief economist of the AGC.

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Associate Profile

  

Our associate profile this month is of Erik Guzman. Erik is a native of Simpsonville, SC and is a graduate of Hillcrest High School. Eric also attended Greenville Technical College and Bob Jones University. He is single and is passionate about soccer and enjoys catching a movie on the weekends. Prior to joining us he worked at Discount Tire on the sales counter. Erik started with us as a rebar fabricator and recently moved into inside sales. He is fluent in Spanish and that has already proven to be a huge asset for us as we have so many Hispanic customers. We’re glad to have Erik on our Greenville team.

Our management article this month is titled, How to De-escalate Workplace Conflict. As it is rare to not have some conflict among employees in any workplace I found this article to have some good ideas and I hope you will as well.


February's Management Article

How to De-escalate Workplace Conflict
By Mary Schaefer

There are opportunities every day to engage in some form of conflict. Someone cuts you off while driving. The customer service rep on the phone gives you the runaround. Your coworker undermines you in a meeting. A friend lets you down on a promise made.

Want to de-escalate conflict? Don’t do these things.

For some reason it is easier for me to describe what to avoid, rather than how to creatively deal with conflict. Probably because I’m thinking of all the times I made a mess of things.

Blame

I’m working to let go of being incensed at someone who owes me money. Someone who has been stringing me along. For months. The real truth is that I didn’t get enough in writing. And from the beginning something didn’t feel right. I was naive in my trust. I read somewhere recently the vehemence of our blame is often in direct correlation to our own lack of responsibility. When I face my part, I calm down.

Jump to conclusions

A colleague in the financial industry gave me this permission to share his story. He emailed someone in his firm to initiate a trade. Later when he checked, he didn’t see the trade had happened. He asked about it via email. The response was “I resent that email.” He wrote a few paragraphs putting the person in his place. Then he got, “I mean I re-sent your trade request,” as in “sent again.” Someone earned a hand-written apology and a night on the town. My colleague learned many things, among them, don’t assume the worst, and check before going ballistic.

Act from entitlement

I’m sure many of us can relate to this, particularly when driving. For instance, it’s difficult to tell someone doesn’t see us when they cut us off. Or if they feel entitled to take “our” parking spot.

I heard author, coach and inspirational speaker, Iyanla Vanzant, was involved in a car accident once. Another woman involved in the accident was verbally berating her. Iyanla calmly responded, “What have I done that makes you think you can talk to me like that?” Indeed. I know I can learn from both sides of this example.

Carry a chip on your shoulder

Several years ago, while conducting sexual harassment prevention training, one attendee was working very hard at not participating. He slumped in his seat, arms crossed, wearing mirrored sunglasses. Something finally prompted him to speak. I don’t even remember what he said, but he was ready for a fight. I told him he was right. I didn’t even have to work to make him right. That’s a great way to de-escalate conflict, but this was no stretch for me in this case. He said another version of what he started with. I told him again how he was right. He wanted to argue so much he couldn’t take it in that I agreed with him.

The entire 4 hours we spent together I wondered how much energy it took to “not participate.” That chip must have been heavy. How heavy is yours?

Swerve into the other person’s lane

This is my personal favorite because it’s my biggest temptation. I regularly receive well-crafted emails that I consider the equivalent of a cold call. A few days ago a woman wrote me asking about my services, as if she could be a potential client, but she was a little vague in her request. I had a feeling something wasn’t right.
When I asked her what she was looking for precisely she responded that she had read one of my recent blog posts and even quoted from it. She went on to try to sell me exactly what I already do. I wanted to tear that email apart with all the assumptions she had made, and how she had not done her homework. But… not my job. I have more constructive things to do.

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

Haruki Murakami

So, when you think about dealing with conflict, here’s what I can offer. Be a leader, rise above the fray and don’t do the things I list here.


That’s it for this month. Let’s hope that all of the external variables that affect our economy in general, and the construction economy specifically, continue to not have much impact on our industry. And, as always, thank you for your business. We know you have a lot of choices when you need building materials and we appreciate it immensely when you choose us.

Best regards,

Jim Sobeck
President 864-263-4377
jim.sobeck@newsouthsupply.com
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Author of The Real Business 101: Lessons From the Trenches
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