To our valued customers,
2018 has been a complex year for the lumber industry so far, and a lot of issues have been raised already. We would like to take the time to address these issues with you, in hopes that you will understand what we are dealing with inside the industry and why we must take action now in order to better serve your needs going forward.
Let us say first, that in our 4 generations of experience, we have never seen things as severe as they are right now. We are not the only company having issues. NELMA, or the North East Lumber Mill Association (of which we are a member) is fighting their way through all these same issues.
What are these issues that we are speaking of?
To start with, there is a major shortage of raw material available to make our Eastern Sweet Pine bedding. A major mill fire in January tightened supplies for the entire northeast United States where this product is produced. While we were able to shift the lost production to other mills within our supply chain, our supplies remain incredibly tight with no relief in sight. Due to the increased demand for lumber and shavings, every mill has increased their price to us already.
Additionally, there is a shortage of truck drivers in the United States currently. The trucking industry is facing a 50,000 person shortage by the end of 2018. ALL of our trucking carriers have re-negotiated our trucking rates and have increased prices everywhere. Some lanes we service have seen price increases of $400 - $600 dollars or more. Unlike a lot of other companies, we do not mark up our freight.
The third thing that has increased so far this year is fuel prices. While fuel remained fairly consistent in 2017, ALL trucking companies are now charging up to .50 per mile in fuel surcharges. As of today it is .42 per mile. This changes weekly along with the price of diesel. We have seen this fee raise from as low as .25 per mile just last year.
Due to all of these issues beyond our control, we are now forced to raise prices to our customers. We have tried shifting production to other mills, we have contacted more than 50 trucking companies to date, and we still can not get our product to our customers fast enough. We want to be your shavings provider for years to come. We are actively fixing these issues, and the only way to do it is higher prices.
By raising prices, we will be able to secure more trucking options for you, secure additional product from our lumber mills, and resolve any supply issues going forward. Rest assured, we are constantly trying to find more production and better transportation options. As always, we encourage your feedback, questions, and phone calls.
According to a recent article, available here, trucking prices for full truckloads have increased 6.8% from 2017 to 2018. LTL loads are getting it even worse, at 8% price increases already this year. As the article points out (and we did too earlier this year) transportation prices are under attack from increased demand and decreased availability. Companies have tried switching to other modes of moving goods, including trains and boats, but prices on those modes of transportaion are also high for the same exact reasons.
What's all this mean to you? With the sudden economic boom of the economy, and more regulations on truck drivers and trucking companies, prices will continue to increase. We have already seen specific lanes increase in price by hundreds of dollars. The new pricing also seems to be higher for rural farmers and retail operations that are located farther away from a major transportation hub.
It amazes me in the day and age of information that people can still write something amazingly incorrect and get away with it. Even after their premise is proven wrong, often repeatedly, the inaccurate information contiues to be spread far and wide. People also tend to believe information that is written by a non profit organization as truth; even when there is zero evidence or factual information in the article to back up their claim.
A perfect example of this exists here:
"Some people use pine shavings, but even though pine has less aromatic oils than cedar, a guinea pig’s sense of smell is very sensitive. What doesn’t smell to you can have quite an aroma to him. One study suggested that rabbits kept on pine bedding had elevated liver enzymes, so there is some doubt as to the safety of pine bedding for small animals."
Now for the sake of clarity, I have attached the link to the entire article so that you can see where this has been written as a fact for the world to see. The author of the original article did not provide a link to the supposed "study" however. The reason why? Probably because there are 2 different studies, and it contains flawed science.
The proper article, that should be read (available here), talks about both studies done on rabbits and their elevated liver enzymes. The article summarizes the findings, and contains links to both articles/publications so that you can make your own decison about your animal bedding. Long story made short; pine shavings are still the most economical and safest bedding to use with your rabbits.
As time continues to move us farther into 2018, Pine River Bedding has continued to expand our retail footprint into new states, as well as filling in some gaps between retail locations. We would like to welcome our new retail partners in Kentucky, Arkansas, and New Mexico. Welcome to the Pine River Bedding family! We are excited to have you with us.
Much has been written about leadership over the years. There have been articles on the rules of leadership, quick tips and pointers to employ, articles on leadership style, and plenty of biographies on inspiring leaders throughout world history. But in all that books and articles on leadership, there are plenty of ideas that fail to get any recognition. Below is a short list of things you thought you already knew about leadership.
1. Leaders come in ALL different flavors.
There are different types of leaders and you will probably work for more than one type of leader in your lifetime. Formal leaders are those elected into political offices, such as congressmen and presidents of the local VFW. Informal leaders are those people we look up to by virtue of their wisdom and experience. Some examples of this include the elders of a tribe, or our grandparents. Other informal leaders include those who have earned our respect by the virtue of their expertise and contribution to society. Examples of these informal leaders include Albert Einstein (Theoretical Physics) and Leonardo da Vinci (Arts & Sciences). Regardless of whether the leadership is formal or informal, leaders practice a combination of different leadership styles.
2. Leadership is a process.
Although it may seem that certain people are born with innate leadership qualities, without the right environment and exposure to quality leadership, they may fail to develop their potential. Just like learning how to ride a bicycle, you can also learn how to become a leader and hone your leadership abilities. Knowledge on leadership theories may be formally gained by enrolling in leadership seminars, workshops, and conferences. Daily interactions with employees and customers provide the opportunity to observe and practice leadership theories. Together, both formal and informal learning will help you gain leadership attitudes, insights, and further your cycle of learning. You do not become a leader in one day and just stop learning. Life-long learning is important in becoming a good leader.
3. Leadership starts with you.
The best way to develop leadership qualities is to apply it in your own life. As the old adage goes, “action speaks louder than words.” Leaders are always in the spotlight. Keep in mind that your credibility as a leader depends on how much your actions speak when you interact with your family, friends, and co-workers. Your way of managing personal and organizational responsibilities, and even the way you handle customers are also being watched and scrutinized. Remember, repeated actions become habits long term. Steven Covey’s book, entitled "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" provides good insight on how you can achieve better leadership by instilling new habits.
4. Leadership is shared.
Leadership is not the sole responsibility of one person, but rather the shared responsibility among members of a managing team. A leader belongs to a group. Each member has his/her responsibilities to fulfill as part of the group. Formal leadership positions are merely added responsibilities in addition to the responsibilities as members of the team. Effective leadership requires members to do their share of work. Another major part of leadership is communication. All social interaction, whether it be by the "leader" or a member of the "management team", plays a major role in leadership of the group. To learn how to truly work together requires a great deal of trust between leaders and members of an emerging team. Trust is built upon actions and not words. When respect exists, trust is fostered and confidence is built.
5. Leadership styles should depend on the situation.
Why does a dictatorship work for Singapore but not the United States of America? Aside from culture differences, religous beliefs, and value systems, the current situation of a nation also affects the leadership style used by its formal leaders. Most of the time, leaders employ a combination of leadership styles depending on the situation at hand. In emergency situations such as periods of war and calamity, decision-making is a matter of life and death. Thus, a nation’s leader does not have time to consult with all the departments of a group to arrive at a crucial decision. The situation is much different in times of peace and order - different sectors and other branches of government have time to freely interact and participate in governance. This should apply to leadership of groups and companies as well. When staffs are highly motivated and competent, a combination of high delegative and moderate participative styles of leadership is appropriate. But if the staff has low competence (or is poorly trained), a combination of high coaching, high supporting, and high directing behavior from the leader is required.
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