LUMBERYARDS

Free advertising? An expert makes the case at PDIS

BY Ken Clark

A marketing seminar at the upcoming ProDealer Industry Summit (PDIS) is geared toward quick results.

Brian Bunt of The Empty Bin specializes in word-of-mouth marketing for lumberyards, which means in a nutshell, using happy customers to advertise for free. Giving them a reason to talk about your product or service is what all good lumberyards do; facilitating the conversations is what takes the extra effort.

The ProDealer Industry Summit, sponsored jointly by the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) and Home Channel News, will explore macroeconomic forces, as well as the everyday running of an LBM business. The Oct. 24-26 event will take place in Savannah, Ga., at the Savannah Westin.

Using examples from the building industry, Bunt will explain how to conduct a campaign that leverages lumberyard’s core customer base and identifies the business’s best “talkers.” In one case study he utilizes, it was the delivery drivers, who were given cameras to take photos of each load they dropped. Individual drivers were then graded as a motivation tool.

“It’s the delivery guys that really spread the word,” Bunt told Home Channel News. “They tell their friends and customers about the extra steps they take.” The cameras worked as a conversation starter. “It’s common for a customer to ask, ‘Why are you taking a photo?’ " he explained.

Bunt doesn’t believe in traditional methods of advertising. “We try to stress that advertising is the cost of being boring,” he said. “You’re paying someone else to talk about what you’re doing.” And in a refreshing change of pace, Bunt doesn’t push social media; he estimated that 80% of word-of-mouth marketing takes place off line.

Instead, Bunt goes in for more offbeat and innovative promotions. Windsor Mill, where Bunt works as director of marketing, put a stamp on the back of its Windsor One trim board and moldings that said, “Call Kurt for a shirt” and included a phone number. The free T-shirt offer resulted in a number of phone calls to the head of Windsor One’s customer experience department, which then led to conversations about current building projects, materials being used and so on — in other words, a foot in the door frame.

Bunt will present Oct. 25 at the 2012 PDIS event.

“At the end of the [session], they’ll be able to create a campaign the day they walk into the office on Monday,” Bunt said.

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Carter Lumber hires new exec, realigns divisions

BY Brae Canlen

Carter Lumber, the Kent, Ohio, pro dealer, has announced a change in its field management structure that will consolidate the stores in its largest division under two regional VPs. The company has also hired Harry Streyle, a 30-year veteran of the LBM industry, as a district manager.

In the Carter Lumber division, all stores have been split into two regions that will be managed by regional VPs Kip Gleckler and Al Price. A new unit has been formed to serve the Columbus, Ohio, market, drawing from the Holmes Lumber and Carter Lumber divisions. This team will operate under the Holmes Lumber name and will work out of three existing Carter Lumber facilities in Plain City, Sunbury and Reynoldsburg. Will Ruschman (former district manager of Columbus) will fill the newly created position of Columbus market general manager for these stores and will report to Steve Miller, VP of Holmes Lumber. 

All six retail divisions will continue to operate under their original brands. Carter Lumber hopes to expand its presence along the Eastern seaboard, where former ProBuild executive Streyle will focus on growing market share in the Pittsburgh, Maryland and Virginia markets. 

Streyle worked as an area VP for 84 Lumber when ProBuild hired him in the fall of 2010 as part of its move into western Pennsylvania. Streyle’s other positions have included regional VP and sales and marketing VP. In his new role, he will report to Kip Gleckler.

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Cornerstone moves into Arizona

BY Brae Canlen

Cornerstone Building Alliance, a newly formed holding company co-founded by former Stock Building Supply executives, has added ALC Holding (ALC), Arizona’s largest building materials distributor, to its portfolio. The investment includes Alliance Lumber, Alliance Truss, Arizona Structural Laminators (ASL), Core Materials Distribution and ALC Transportation.

Cornerstone’s leadership team includes president and CEO Steve Short, who served as Stock’s chief operating officer, and Fenton Hord, Stock’s longtime president and CEO. In a prepared statement, Short described ALC, which is based in Phoenix, as Cornerstone’s new  “platform” in Arizona.

“Alliance is the leading distributor in a top five housing market,” Short said. “Phoenix and Arizona, which clearly suffered significant downturns, have done a remarkable job of working through their distressed housing problems and are now well positioned to rebound. Our investment positions the business to strategically capitalize on the market recovery both organically and acquisitively. Alliance is a strong, healthy company with a deep and seasoned team. We look forward to a long, mutually beneficial partnership.”

True Carr, president and CEO of ALC Holding, said in a prepared statement: “The combination of Cornerstone and Alliance creates a partnership that is well positioned to capitalize on the future growth of our market. Cornerstone’s significant cash investment in Alliance, along with the additional resources and support this partnership provides, will benefit our customers, employees and shareholders.”

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