Las Vegas -- Pro dealer 84 Lumber is launching a new program aimed at encouraging builders and consumers to consider constructing homes with materials sourced in the United States. Called “We Build American,” the initiative was announced Jan. 23 at the International Builders' Show here.
A group of 84 Lumber executives were joined by Marnie Oursler, president of Marnie Homes of Bethany Beach, Del., who founded We Build American and recruited 84 Lumber to join her efforts to promote the concept. “If we get other builders on board, we can make a difference,” said Oursler, referring to the creation of more jobs in the United States.
The We Build American website already lists approximately 180 companies who sell American-made building materials and products. “We know there are [more] vendors out there we may not be aware of,” said Jeff Nobers, VP marketing and public relations. Builders who are willing to construct homes with at least 95% U.S.-made materials are also encouraged to sign up. A search function for consumers who want to build a USA-sourced house is being added.
Montana builder Jake Lewendal, who has been featured in a number of news stories for his All-American built homes, also spoke at the announcement.
Nobers told HCN that 84 Lumber plans to create a system where the pro dealer, which now operates in 30 states, can give builders two bids for building plans: one with “American content” and the other using foreign-sourced materials. Builders may be surprised, he predicted, at the narrow gap in total costs, especially when labor and productivity are factored in. The quality of U.S.-made products may also win some converts, he added.
84 Lumber is planning a prototype store that will showcase the U.S.-made building products. Chief operating officer Frank Cicero told HCN that the LBM chain is looking at a location in an area where the company has a high concentration of stores, such as the Baltimore/Washington, D.C./Virginia area.
Nobers stressed that 84 Lumber was taking a “big tent” view of the We Build American initiative. “This just can’t be an 84 Lumber thing,” he said. “We think everyone should take a look at this.”