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Lumber shortage impacts businesses locally

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Lumber mills are having a tough time keeping up with a large demand right now, and that’s slowing down construction projects here in the Ozarks.

“There are people in a lot of tight spaces, so whenever COVID came around, it was really affecting that,” said Levi Barton, showroom sales manager at Southern Supply Company. “You get one guy on the plant that gets COVID, then it’s going to affect the rest of the productions, so they had to slow everything down.”

The reason for the shortage, much like hundreds of other supply shortages in the U.S., is the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A lot of the mills were affected by COVID-19, had to shut down for probably about a month or so,” said Barton.

Hurricane Sally did affect lumber availability in other states, but not too much here in the midwest.

A warehouse driver at Southern Supply Company says some of the most popular lumber is treated decks, used in 99% of the decks for home builders.

Right now, the company says it just doesn’t have enough supply for the demand.

“Everybody’s building decks, and the lumber’s hard to get right now, and we are having a hard time keeping the five quarter deck boards in stock,” said Garry Mitchell, the warehouse driver at Southern Supply Company.

September is a notable turning point for lumber prices this year, as they have almost doubled.

“It’s just kind of a hit and miss, on sometimes we’ll get in a truck and it’ll fill back up, sometimes we’re waiting a couple weeks before we even fill an order,” said Mitchell.

Many lumber production factories had to shut down for about a month because the nature of working in a factory is what will spread the virus.

The shortage in lumber also means less people wanting to build new homes and more looking to buy. A local realtor says the Springfield area is a seller’s market.

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