John Adams, the nation’s second president, wrote: “Let us dare to read, speak, think and write.”
To a large extent, that was the script during the 2022 ProDealer Industry Summit, which attracted LBM dealers and suppliers representing businesses across the country. They descended on the nation’s capitol for the first time since 2019, and the tackled an agenda that ranged from supply chain to diversity and labor, and from builder relations to succession planning.
The event, organized by the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association and HBSDealer, also included awards and recognition for high performance in the yard, and dedication to the industry.
While the Capitol Building was generally closed to visitors, Capitol Hill came to the Summit in the form of legislators and administrators. The first group promoted business-friendly policies, the second group described details of some of the less-than-friendly regulations on the books.
Headlining the Washington Briefing Breakfast were three members of congress: Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE) and Rep. Rick Allen (R-GA). The most spirited of the three, Allen took the offensive against what he sees environmental extremism. “The problem with the economy is the new war on fossil fuel,” he said. “In this town, it’s a religion.” He also railed against regulations that restrict businesses from bringing growth and employment to their communities. “The good news is this,” he said “There are elections every two years.”
Smith offered an optimistic note in his presentation to the dealers – a presentation that included concerns over inflation and the labor shortage. “There is more bipartisanship in Washington than you think,” he said.
Throughout the three-day event, the issues of the supply chain shortages and material scarcity cast a disruptive shadow on multiple presentations. It was tackled head-on by a panel of lumber leaders addressing “How to manage an unpredictable supply chain.”
The panel hammered on keys to success including engagement and communication.
“I can't say enough about how we need to communicate openly with each other and make that continue to work, because that's what's going to help us through this supply chain issue,” said Mike Reeves, president of Espy Lumber Co.
“Consistency is what really would help our industry a lot right now,” said Mark Hopkins chief operating officer of Hancock Lumber Co. “Whether it's just consistent lead time or a consistent price, it's a challenge. And what we've been doing is just super-communicating with our customers and vendors to try and make it as smooth as possible in a very difficult set of conditions.”
As per tradition, the event featured a Lumber Dealers Political Action Committee (LudPAC) fundraiser, a ProDealer of the Year Awards ceremony, and networking events to encourage the sharing of ideas and the building of relationships.
“This is truly a conference for dealers, created by dealers,” said Jonathan Paine, president and CEO of the NLBMDA.