Nebraska’s lumber industry is showing signs of normalcy after COVID-19

NORFOLK, Neb. – “The timber market has really collapsed,” said Chad Gilsdorf, who is the manager of Mead Lumber in Norfolk.

Despite a challenging past two years in the logging industry due largely in part to the Covid-19 pandemic, officials said things were starting to get back to normal.

Gilsdorf said he expects things to stabilize within the industry.

“I think we’re going to see a lot of market stability this year,” Gilsdorf said.

In 2020 and 2021 there was a shortage of timber and the industry was in crisis. The pandemic wasn’t just to blame. The fires, record demand for housing, and low sawmill production all factor into the hardships the industry has faced.

Gilsdorf said that while the supply chain still remains an issue, he added that dramatic improvements have been seen.

“There are still a lot of pocket challenges out there,” he said. “But I’m seeing a marked improvement on that front. Every month it seems like it’s getting better.”

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

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

Recently, News Channel Nebraska sat down with a local realtor about the overall real estate market around Nebraska.

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

While some projects have been slowed due to high interest rates or low inventories, Gilsdorf added that they continue to remain busy with potential deals in the area.

“Every day we have more people drawing design here,” he said. “We are drawing on a lot of different prints. There is still solid interest out there, but interest rates are the driver. Overall, I still see solid demand.”

Even with high interest rates still affecting prospective homebuyers, Gilsdorf said, “I think we’re in a much better position than we were in the last couple of years.”

“We’re back where we should be,” Gilsdorf said. “It still makes sense to make plans and grow 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 solid business across the Midwest,” he said.

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