Department Spotlight: Meet the Southern Yellow Pine Traders

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In addition to trading plywood, cedar, and other major commodities, AIFP covers specialty building materials. One of those products is Southern Yellow Pine and our commodity traders who specialize in it are the focus of this installment of the AIFP Department Spotlight series. Read on to learn about our pine traders and the unique joys and challenges of commodity trading.

Meet The Southern Yellow Pine Traders

Department Head, Justin Binning

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Justin Binning started his career at AIFP in 2010 when the housing market was struggling to rebound from the recession. While many people were leaving the commodity trading industry for more stability, Justin jumped in. He has shown us that he loves a good challenge and is always up for whatever is thrown his way.

When we asked Justin about the joys and challenges of the job, he said:

Joys

“The growing demand for the specie in the US. Trading SYP into new markets that it hasn’t gone into in the past is exciting and I like the ability to trade more than just 2X4 through 2X12 dimension. We trade boards, 5/4 decking, and timbers to name a few.”

Challenges

“There are three different zones of trading and continual price volatility in the market. Those factors create unique challenges every day.”

Roby Westbrook, Trader

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Roby Westbrook joined AIFP in 2007 after graduating from Southern Oregon University and is dedicated to finding the best value to promote to the trading floor and offer his customers. 

When we asked Roby about the joys and challenges of the job, he said:

Joys

“I would say the biggest joy so far is the opportunity that is ahead of this young department.  The industry will see more fiber coming from the South (SYP sawmills) ensuring a bright future for the trading floor with lots of opportunity.”

Challenges

“As a new buyer in a developing department, finding the daily values presents challenges since we are still learning what each mill produces and where the product goes competitively. In addition, being the new guy on the block developing relationships with the customer/mill is a challenge while making sure we are getting the best look at the business or production.”

David Lee, Trader

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David Lee has been with AIFP since 2014. He joined the company after graduating from the University of Oregon with a Bachelors degree in Economics.

When we asked David about the joys and challenges of the job, he said:

Joys

“It is exciting watching the department grow from the ground up. Finding new customers and fostering new relationships by providing value to their business will never get old.”

Challenges

“Being a new department for our floor, it is very much an uncharted territory. Every day we are learning more and more about this trade. Also, being that we are on the West coast, our mills and customers are very far away, we have to put a large emphasis on traveling to help grow our relationships with both.”

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Jackson Fish, Trader

Jackson Fish started AIFP’s Trader Training Program in 2016. He spends his days finding new customers and developing relationships with current customers their business’ needs better so he can bring them value week in and week out.

When we asked Jackson about the joys and challenges of the job, he said:

Joys

“I absolutely love talking to our customers and mills. A lot of “yes sir” and “yes ma’am”. Having grown up in rural Washington State on a farm I feel very at home speaking with people from Texas over to the Carolinas. I had never visited the south before so having been able to make three trips visiting Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi in my first two years with the company has been so cool. I look forward to strengthening our current relationships, developing new ones, and couldn’t be more excited to see what the future will hold.”

Challenges

“Being a younger department presents the challenges of new relationships. All of the customers and mills that we are building relationships with already have partnerships that go back decades. A challenge that we face is making sure we are getting a full look at both what our mills have available to buy and what our customers are in need of on a daily basis.”

Sean Kilgore, Trader

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Sean Kilgore began his career with AIFP in 2015 after serving four years in the United States Marine Corps. His day to day involves communication between the trading floor, mills, and customers to secure value for all parties.

When we asked Sean about the joys and challenges of the job, he said:

Joys

“The opportunity of Southern Yellow Pine and the volume of fiber that will be introduced to the market in the near future.”

Challenges

“Developing mill and customer relationships as we are building a department. We have to show how and what value we bring to the table.”

Jimmy Bittner, Trader Trainee

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Jimmy Bittner joined AIFP’s Trader Training Program in December 2017. He spends his days on the phone with mills and customers telling the story and making sales.

When we asked Jimmy about the joys and challenges of the job, he said:

Joys

“I absolutely love talking to our customers and mills. Old fashioned values and manners are alive and well. I Really have enjoyed getting to know people and strengthening partnerships. I cannot wait for what the future holds.”

Challenges

“Being a young department, we are working on our customer base and mill relationships. Traveling to tell the story is very important. Being detail oriented and organized is key. Constantly learning and refining our knowledge and craft.”

Work With AIFP

As you can tell from what our Southern Yellow Pine traders had to say, a career in commodities trading is a rewarding choice and there’s no better lumber trading company to work for than AIFP. Visit our Careers page to learn more about our Trader Training Program and apply today!

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