A fresh page

Publisher Letter

I like to think that we, our families and our companies begin each year with a fresh page…a clean start. As media industry guru Bo Sacks wrote in his end-of-year newsletter, “…the pen is in your hands and 2021 has yet to be written. It is now time to write your own future to the best of your abilities. Be creative, be imaginative, be courageous.” It is the same thinking that drives New Year’s resolutions. Facing a fresh page, it’s only human to look back at the year that was, complete with its peaks and valleys, and think about the role our decisions played each step of the way. And, critically, to think about how to make the story of 2021 that much better.

2020 was anything but a normal year, with the Coronavirus destabilizing our lives and businesses. There’s no question that there were many, many things we couldn’t control. Quarantines and partial shutdowns, some businesses being named “essential,” with others forced to close their doors. In the world of LBM distribution, many companies faced unprecedented and unexpected demand, which led to severe shortages of many fundamental building materials.

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While many things were beyond our control, there remained many things within our control. Specifically, how we reacted to our bizarre new reality. I’m proud to report that you and the others who comprise our industry did what you’ve done through every challenge you’ve faced. Working with your teams, you navigated the obstacles and the fast-evolving rules and forged new routes to serve your customers and communities. In markets large and small, from coast to coast, LBM dealers and distributors stepped up. As a result, many LBM dealers set new sales records in a year that will be best remembered for COVID-19.

As I write this in late December, no one knows how the new year will unfold. But it is starting off with some promising news. Two approved vaccines are inoculating millions of Americans, effectively taking a 2×4 to the pandemic. Speaking of 2x4s, duties on Canadian lumber shipped into the U.S. have been reduced to 9% from 20%, which will help ease the sting of historically high lumber prices. While many materials remain in short supply, manufacturers are working hard to maximize output, and to deliver the materials your customers demand.

Frankly, I’m excited about the potential that the new year holds. There’s no doubt that new challenges await, but I believe that the worst is behind us. From a business standpoint, I’d like to borrow once again from Bo Sacks, who wrote on April 29, 2020 about “…the new normal, where it seemed apparent that we were/are in a time machine, a machine that accelerates whatever was happening before. If your business was in decline, that decline was now accelerated. If your business was doing well, the methodologies and the technology you used for success should/could lead to further achievements, if not now, then in the near future.”

One thing you can count on, is that your team at LBM Journal will do all we can to help you and your company make the best of 2021…and beyond. In that spirit, we look forward to seeing you live and in person in Boston, October 12-15, for LBM Strategies Conference 2021.

— Rick Schumacher
Executive Editor & Publisher

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