Building materials suppliers warn of post-Ian price rises


Tribune Business Reporter


BUILDING materials costs may further increase as a result of the devastation that Hurricane Ian has inflicted on Florida, Bahamian merchants warned yesterday.

Constance McKinney, chief financial officer at Cartwright’s Building Supplies, told Tribune Business she expects prices to “go up again”, reversing the decline seen over the last two months, due to increased demand for construction materials to help rebuild the “Sunshine State” in Ian’s aftermath. Building material availability may also become an issue as Florida sucks up the majority of available supplies, creating shortages for The Bahamas and other Caribbean states.

“We’re looking at a Dorian in Florida right now,” Ms McKinney said. “I suspect that because of the supply and demand that things will be coming in a little slower. We’ve been trying to get supplies in and they’ve been coming in a little slower.

“For example, sheet rock has been delayed. But I expect for us to see a difference in the fact that I don’t know if we’re going to get the availability of supplies as quickly as we have been getting them. There has been a delay in them.”

Despite the inevitable post-Ian logistical challenges for Florida materials suppliers, construction in The Bahamas is not expected to slow down significantly. “Contractors just have to do more planning. So if you used to order two weeks in advance you have to now order a month ahead,” Ms McKinney said.

“If you have suppliers in South Florida, and you have a good relationship with them, you should be able to get your supplies. I don’t think they would deny us supplies if we have a good relationship with them. We may not get all of what we want, but we will get some and whatever comes to The Bahamas will have to be shared with everyone.”

Anthony Roberts, City Lumber Yard’s general manager, said: “I have not heard of any price rises yet, but I do anticipate that in the upcoming days we may see supplies get tight on things like plywood and shingles.”

He, too, is placing orders ahead of time. One was submitted ahead of Ian’s Wednesday arrival on Florida’s western coast as a Category Four storm with winds touching 155 miles per hour. Mr Roberts said: “When there are supply issues, the price issues follow behind.

“So hopefully it won’t be a terrible impact, but to answer that, yes, we expect, as is normally the case, that we would see prices on things like plywood to be more volatile. So I do anticipate we’ll see prices start to move up a little bit, especially once they get over a bit of a clean-up and get down to repairs.

“That was quite a hit Florida got. It was almost like what we went through with Dorian. They are just now assessing how much damage Florida has incurred and what they should expect from the restoration process,” Mr Roberts added. “There are a lot of suppliers in Florida, but they are not exclusively in Florida, and the materials we buy are not necessarily out of Florida.”

Other supply hubs are present in Louisiana and North Carolina. “There is really only one major plywood mill in Florida, and I hope they are not affected because it will cost money when we have to truck it down from other states. So I’m hoping that mill in Florida is intact because they supply a lot of plywood to not only Florida, but a lot of it is exported to the wider Caribbean,” Mr Roberts said.

Shipping and logistics may also face temporary challenges because Florida’s ports were shut down due to Hurricane Ian’s passage. And building materials may be put behind supplies of groceries and medical supplies. “There were two railways and they were just shut down, so it’s going to take some time to get things geared back up, but there will be disruptions at the ports,” Mr Roberts said.


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