Nebraska timber industry shows signs of bounce back after COVID-19

NORFOLK, Nebraska. “The lumber market has really taken off,” said Chad Gilsdorf, manager of Mead Lumber in Norfolk.

Despite the difficult past couple of years in the timber industry, due in large part to the Covid-19 pandemic, officials have said things are starting to return to normal.

Gilsdorf said he expects the industry to stabilize.

“I think we will see more stability in the market this year,” Gilsdorf said.

Back in 2020 and 2021, a lumber shortage materialized and the industry was in a tailspin. It’s not just the pandemic that’s to blame. Wildfires, record high demand for housing, and low sawmill production are all contributing factors to the difficulties the industry is facing.

Gilsdorf said that while the supply chain is still a challenge, he added that improvements have been seen over time.

“There are many more pocket challenges,” he said. “But I see some improvement on that front. Every month it seems to get better.

On Jan. 27, lumber futures jumped 13% as the housing market showed signs of improvement.

Pending home sales rose 2.5% in December, the biggest increase since October 2021.

News Channel Nebraska recently contacted a local realtor and talked about the general housing market in Nebraska.

Real Estate Solutions co-owner Russ Wilcox said the market is “tight” in Madison County due to a small supply of home building products.

While some projects have been slowed down by high interest rates or a lack of inventory, Gilsdorf added that they remain pursuing potential operations in the area.

“Every day we have several people who are engaged in designing here,” he said. “We paint a lot of different prints. There is still solid interest out there, but interest rates are the driving force. Overall, I still see stable demand.”

Gilsdorf said that even with high interest rates for potential homebuyers, “we’re in a much better position than we’ve been in the last couple of years.”

“We are back where we need to be,” Gilsdorf said. “It still makes sense to do projects and develop our communities in our area.”

He expects reasonable business in the coming months.

“There will be a much calmer market here in 2023 and I think they will be a solid business in the Midwest,” he said.

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