Colo. lumberyards hurting during slumping economy |

Colo. lumberyards hurting during slumping economy

DENVER ” Colorado lumberyards are shutting down and thousands are losing their jobs across the country as homebuilders scale back on construction.

At least a dozen Colorado lumberyards have closed in the last two years as demand for materials has decreased. One supplier, 84 Lumber, had seven locations in Colorado in 2007 but now has only one store in Grand Junction.

“As the national housing market has gone, that’s how our business has gone,” said Jeff Nobers, vice president of marketing for 84 Lumber, based in Eighty Four, Pa. “Our Colorado operations (that closed) were not profitable for us.”

The lumberyard industry is struggling as housing starts have declined. The Denver Post reports that housing starts are down 35 percent from last year in the Denver area.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics says more than 100,000 building-material workers have lost their jobs in the U.S. since 2006.

“We’re in the midst of the steepest downturn in the lumber industry in history,” said Butch Bernhardt of the Portland, Ore.-based Western Wood Products Association.

The San Francisco-based Building Materials Holding Corp., which operates BMC West, closed stores in Aspen, Glenwood Springs and Steamboat Springs in the last year. It also shut down its facilities in Fort Collins in Boulder.

Industry officials say the housing downturn has led to the cheapest prices for lumber in 18 years, with an 8-foot-stud selling for $1.75. Those prices might make now the best time for building, said Mark Strait, owner of Strait Lumber in Aurora.

But Strait’s business has been hurting, too. He said sales are down about 40 percent since 2007, and this year continues to look bleak. He said he expects a drop of up to 15 percent in sales in 2009.


Information from: The Denver Post,

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