An LBM Expo builds business
Providence, R.I. — For Kevin Smith, a softwood and plywood sales manager with Roseburg Forest Products, LBM Expo represents an opportunity to shake hands with his East Coast customers he doesn’t always see.
“This remains one of my favorite shows and is still one of the best,” Smith said.
Smith and Roseburg, the Eugene, Ore.-based forest and building products giant, were just one of the more than 200 exhibitors and vendors displaying their latest products and services while meeting customers at LBM Expo 2018, held Feb. 14–16 at the Rhode Island Convention Center. According to the Northeastern Retail Lumber Association, the Rensselaer, N.Y.-based LBM association that produces the show, this year’s event was one of its largest ever in regard to registered attendance and exhibitors.
Show events included a sold-out beach party complete with “Changes in Latitudes,” a Jimmy Buffet tribute band that brought a taste of Margaritaville to New England.
The show marked the first LBM Expo for Andrew Pantelides, director of marketing and business development for Regal Ideas, the British Columbia-based aluminum railing manufacturer.
Business prospects were solid and mounting for Regal Ideas, Pentelides said: “The dealer response has been refreshing. It’s great to see seasonal business start so strong this early in the year.”
In the meantime, St. Louis, Mo.-based Huttig Building Products was showing off its own new line of pro fasteners — Huttig Grip Fasteners. Huttig formed a fastener division in 2016 and brought in a team of “well-seasoned” product executives to help mold the line, according to Mike Catalina, a general manager with Huttig.
The new line features clean packaging with a window on the box, making it easier to see exactly what type of fastener is in each box. The packaging also features a heavier cardboard that won’t deteriorate after purchase. Also, the line features a display that is uniform in appearance.
“You get that nice clean line in the store,” Catalina said. “There isn’t an uneven, cityscape appearance to the packaging once the fasteners have been purchased.”
Gene Farley, co-owner of Torrington Lumber Company in Torrington, Conn., has been attending LBM Expo for nearly 40 years since he was 13 years old. “I started coming here with my parents,” he said.
“This is still a great networking show,” he said. “It’s great to see all the key people you may not have seen throughout the year.”
GRK Fasteners, the Glenview, Ill.-based fastener manufacturer, brought its new line of XL-sized fastener buckets — weighing as much as 10 pounds each and designed specifically for the LBM dealer channel. The new product is in test markets now and will be fully available to dealers this May.
Jared Sherwin, a Northeast territory manager with GRK Fasteners, said the new product has received a warm response and it was key for his company to make an appearance at LBM Expo.
“This event is great for relationships and the key dealers are here. If you don’t show up you’re missing out on a real opportunity,” Sherwin said.
This marked the final year of a three-year run in Providence. In 2019, LBM Expo returns to Boston, Mass.
The ravages of innovation
Providence, R.I. — Technology is a disruptor to how companies do business and how they evolve.
That was the message from Tim Costello, president, CEO and chairman of Builder Homesite and New Home Technologies. Costello discussed how advances in technology quickly changed the business landscape and often destroyed the business model of companies that did not quickly change with the times.
“Technology forecasting and planning is a fool’s pursuit,” Costello said while addressing a room of dealer-attendees at LBM Expo 2018. “You’re trying to connect dots but we know we are going to be wrong. What we have to be good at is adapting fast.”
Rather than keeping an eye out for a “single 30-foot wave” of technology change, Costello suggested that dealers pay attention to the numerous 3-foot waves that occur. “Very seldom is it one technology. It’s a collection of technologies coming together,” he said.
For instance, Costello pointed to Uber, which in seven years has amassed more than 50% of the market share while outsizing taxi and limo services. On the other hand, Costello discussed the former film giant Kodak who had a jump on the development of digital technology but didn’t use it to its advantage. Similarly, Blockbuster had a 90-day exclusive rental agreement on the biggest films but was eventually overrun by the advent of Netflix, rental kiosks and on-demand services.
According to Redfin, the residential real estate company that provides web-based database and brokerage services, 41% of millennials put an offer on a home last year without ever seeing it in person.
And with advancements in virtual and augmented reality, home shoppers can take a tour of a home without ever setting foot in it while getting a clear picture of what the structure will look like during day or night. Lighting, appliances, countertops, paint schemes, flooring and even the view out the window can all be visualized through today’s technology.
“These are tools people use every day,” Costello said. “Your little paint chips don’t do it anymore.”
The same can be said about customer service that is provided 24/7 online via the rise of chatbots. “We’re never closed because we have ‘Helen’ and Helen is over here,” Costello explained while noting LBM dealers don’t deliver that level of service.
In the case of home building, Costello focused on the rise of automation. Japanese firms Sekisui and Sumitomo Forestry have been making acquisitions in the United States while growing and promising fast turnarounds for new housing. In the case of Toyota’s home building division in Japan, the company can complete building a new home within 15 days while holding on to interest-gaining payment capital for 45 days.
Costello also warned that big companies are sometimes the weakest because they are addicted to how they currently do business. Conversely, a smaller company who is not at the top is willing to undergo change to get ahead.
“Technology is constantly changing and morphing under our feet,” Costello said. “What you learned in the last 30 years is helpful but won’t help you prepare for the next 25 years or two years.”
CAMO Screw Off takes center stage at LBM Expo
Providence, R.I. — National Nail held its CAMO Screw Off finals at a location that was sure to get attention: the 2018 LBM Expo, being held here through Feb. 16.
Otis Nelson of Modern Roofing & Siding in Ashland, Maine, captured the grand prize while beating out 28 other competitors in the deck-fastening event. Nelson represented his regional dealer — S.W. Collins Co. in Presque Isle, Maine — and won a 2017 Harley-Davidson Roadster motorcycle in the process.
In total, 42 contractors qualified at local lumberyards in the Northeast this past spring and summer.
“The CAMO Screw Off was an exciting event, starting at my lumber dealer S.W. Collins all the way to the finals here in Rhode Island,” Nelson said. “It was a great way to learn more about CAMO’s deck fastening products. I can’t wait to take a cruise on the new bike,” Nelson added.
Second place went to David Orgain of Birdseye Building Co. in Burlington, Vt. Representing his dealer Richmond Home Supply in Richmond, Orgain won a $1,500 prize for his effort. Third place went to Robert Smart of Building Smart in Freeport, Maine, representing his dealer Hammond Lumber Company in Brunswick, Maine; while Nathan Demers of Middleboro, Mass., representing Mahoney’s Building Supply in Mattapoisett, Mass., finished in fourth. The latter two contestants each took home $500.
“We couldn’t have planned a more successful event,” said W. Scott Baker, CEO of National Nail. “The competition was intense — everyone came to win, with many of the contractors practicing for months. We congratulate Otis Nelson who gets to drive home a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle.”
Designed by National Nail to provide hands-on experience with its CAMO Deck Edge Fastening system, the CAMO Screw Off was hosted by CAMO stocking dealers this past summer and fall in a series of deck fastening speed contests. The unique system, comprised of propriety guides, drill bits and fasteners, fastens deck boards on the edge, to give decks a more beautiful, barefoot-friendly, fastener-free surface.
In the coming months, Grand Rapids, Mich.-based National Nail is expected to announce the details for the next round of the CAMO Screw Off.