Verizon exec connects at PDIS
San Diego — "To get man on the moon, they were carrying less computing power than you have in your pocket right now."
This was more or less the message imparted by Verizon Wireless vertical innovations architect Erik Varney during his presentation at the 2014 ProDealer Industry Summit, titled "Using Mobile Technology to Advance Your Business."
During his presentation, he offered some perspective on the state of mobile technology in the construction industry and the lucrative role it will continue to play in the years ahead.
For example: The No.1 cause of delays in the construction world is connectivity.
But once that’s in place, real-time data updates are possible, with enterprise resource planning, forms, accounts receivable, workload management and more all accessible from a single device.
Particularly with plant productivity solutions, mobile devices can predict (and notify the user) when equipment breaks down, as well as streamline one’s lean initiatives, inventory management, enterprise applications, OEM asset management, and safety and security operations.
New revenue streams are an added perk of mobile possibilities, said Varney, citing Kenmore’s launch of a new service plan that utilizes built-in mobile technology to alert technicians when an appliance is malfunctioning.
Customer service especially benefits when one can provide more information and insight (and faster).
Varney left attendees with some food for thought: 30 billion "things" (or devices) will be connected on the web by 2020 — but there are already more devices talking to each other than people. The threshold, it appears, has been broached.
Huttig posts Q3 gains
St. Louis-based distributor Huttig Building Products was lifted by modest improvement in home construction in the third quarter.
The company posted nets sales of $174.5 million in the quarter, a 14% improvement over the same quarter last year.
“In the third quarter we generated strong revenue growth and are pleased to report our 14th consecutive quarter of improved income from continuing operations, excluding special significant items,” said Jon Vrabely, Huttig’s president and CEO. “The revenue growth is a result of continued modest improvement in the residential construction market combined with strong execution of our strategic growth initiatives."
Net income in the third quarter 2014 was $3.5 million compared with $3.0 million a year ago. Net income for the first nine months was $2.7 million compared with net income of $3.6 million a year ago. Net income reflects year-to-date charges from discontinued operations of $3.5 million in 2014 compared with $0.4 million a year ago.
“While we are pleased with our revenue growth of 14%, our flow through on increased revenues to income from continuing operations was negatively impacted by continued significant investments into our business to support our revenue growth, technology and customer service business initiatives,” Vrabely said. “We believe these investments are necessary to capture growth opportunities today while also providing improved operating leverage on future revenue growth.”
Huttig distributes its products through 27 distribution centers serving 41 states.
Ken Wilbanks pumps up the PDIS crowd
San Diego — Scheduling business consultant Ken Wilbanks for the early morning slot was a strategic move at the 2014 Pro Dealer Industry Summit. His presentation served to rouse and inspire a room full of lumbermen — or "woodpeckers," as he referred to them — with notions of a tightly run ship.
Wilbanks shared his steps to attaining "the deep satisfaction of a job well-done and a business well-run," inspired foremost by his grandfather, who he characterized as a man of the utmost discipline and attention to detail.
Among the six imperatives for every executive, according to Wilbanks, there’s the foundational instruction to start with an inspiring vision. From there, one must focus on talent acquisition, operational efficiencies, "modeling optimum technique" (or teaching by example), encouraging one’s staff and celebrating one’s successes.
A few more detailed tips:
- Make the shift from transaction-based selling and teach your team to be account managers.
- Change the way you coach. Get out of offices and meetings, and start spending more one-on-one time with employees.
- Encourage your staff more than you criticize them. Aim for 10 encouragements for every criticism.
- Involve your entire team in the company’s progress by making "game stats and scores" highly visible to all.
- Take no prisoners when it comes to operational excellence. Wilbanks described a "walk and stalk" strategy in which one constantly surveils the premises to ensure every stone is in its place — or "walk an aisle with such intensity it makes your eyes bleed."
One important caveat, according to Wilbanks: It’s not about the sales so much as it’s about the improvement.
"The game is to beat last year," he said — "in sales, in inventory, in margins."