Wanted: Commitment from suppliers
There are many paths to a lumberyard operator’s vendor list. But perhaps the best way is to sum up and distill the remarks from a a recent panel of pro dealers.
Looking at the big picture, a panel of lumberyard operators shared what they felt was the most important part of that relationship.
In a word, the main thing they need from a supplier: “commitment.”
Commitment includes being a resource for quick answers to immediate questions, or longer-term education, according to Mike Moore, co-owner and VP materials management at TW Perry, a six-unit lumberyard based in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
“The most important thing is they need to be a resource for our sales team,” said Moore. “That’s No. 1, and that it kind of flows down from there. If they are a resource for our guys, then they are going to get repeat business. And from there, it’s about the right programs, rebates, and payment terms and other things.”
At Atlanta-based BMC, VP sales and marketing Keith Costello said the commitment his company seeks begins with consistent and timely delivery of product.
He also described the importance of “coming out with cutting-edge technology,” bringing competitive advantages to the table and making it clear what those are.
On the “don’t” list, he described last-minute notices on price increases.
Dan Fesler, CEO of 33-unit Lampert Yards pointed to a multi-faceted list of supplier “do’s.” Among them, providing the right product at the best price. There’s also the proper delivery schedule and product rebates when appropriate.
“It’s really committing to us so that we don’t run out of product,” Fesler said.
“We need to be priced competitively. We need guaranteed delivery. I think the technology is going to be huge and so is training and support. Those people who can provide that in spades are going to be our going-forward suppliers.”
The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association organized the panel.
PDIS promises dealer education
Organizers of the 2014 ProDealer Industry Summit are preparing for a three-day event to advance the cause of the LBM dealer, both individually and collectively.
The ProDealer Industry Summit will take place Oct. 28-30 at the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego.
One of the headliners of the educational component is Kathryn I. Thompson, CEO and director of research at the Thompson Research Group. She brings over 15 years of experience to analyzing, modeling and advising investors on the construction material industry.
Thompson was named the Financial Times/Starmine Stock Picker of the year in Construction Materials in 2010, 2012 and 2013. She has been a guest on CNBC, Fox Business News and Bloomberg, while being quoted regularly in The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Forbes, Fortune and Bloomberg.
The ProDealer Industry Summit is an exclusive three-day educational and networking forum designed to promote the growth of lumber and building product dealers, distributors, wholesalers and the manufacturers that supply them. LBM dealers will benefit from sharing insights and best practices with leaders in the industry in a relaxed format that encourages networking and personal interaction.
The Summit will feature educational sessions on critical issues and hot topics that will be presented by highly thought-provoking speakers, including:
• Michelle DeSiderio, VP innovation services for the Home Innovation Research labs;
• Eric Varney, Vertical Innovations Architect, Verizon Wireless; and
• Kenneth Wilbanks, professional LBM business consultant.
To learn more about the 2014 ProDealer Industry Summit, presented jointly by the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association and HCN, and to take advantage of the early bird registration rate, click here.
DA: Nominal lumber descriptions are OK
In the wake of the recent $1.6 million Lowe’s settlement over the description of dimensional lumber in California, a deputy district attorney involved in the case said that companies are within their rights to describe dimensional lumber in nominal terms, as opposed to actual terms.
But the actual dimensions of lumberyards' and retailers' products must carry muster with the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
“If a 2×4 does not meet the NIST standard and they’re advertising it as a 2×4, then they would be in violation of the law,” said Andres Perez, deputy district attorney for the Marin County District Attorney’s Office in San Rafael, California.
One of the allegations in the case against Lowe’s was that certain products “were not in compliance with the minimum size requirements.” The complaint, flied in the Superior Court of California for Marin County, referred to advertising of dimenstional products on in-store shelf tags, flyers, signage, newspapers and on the Internet.
The accepted actual size of a softwood 2×4 is 1.5 in. x 3.5 in. “In other words, if the 2×4 measured 1 in. by 3 in., then you’d have a problem,” Perez said.
In California, it’s not permitted to use the same “nominal” terms to describe composite dimensional products. These composite products require actual dimensions to be used in labeling.
It is this area — the composite area of building products — where Lowe’s originally ran afoul of a routine investigation from the State Division of Measurement Standards, according to sources.
When asked about the settlement, a Lowe’s spokeswoman said the dimensions of the company’s products are not changing — just the labeling. Using the 2×4 as an example, “our products have always measured 1.5 inches x 3.5 inches,” said Amanda Manna. “The change we are making is that product information will now include the actual dimensions of a product (example, 1.5 inches x 3.5 inches), in addition to the commonly used measurement (example, 2 inches x 4 inches).
The company did not respond to specific question about the role of composite measurements in the lawsuit.
Earlier this month, a Marin County California judge ordered Lowe’s to pay a $1.6 million settlement over the lawsuit alleging the inaccurate description of structural dimensional building products.
"Both Lowe's and the California DAs agreed that a settlement is in the best interest of all parties. It allows us to continue moving forward with our program to provide both actual and common product dimensions and meet our shared goals,” said Karen Cobb, a Lowe’s spokeswoman, in the announcement of the settlement.