Experience Meets Innovation in Greensboro
What excites these two BMC veterans? Here it is, in their words.
Tim Conklin’s management career began in the grocery industry. But he didn’t find his true calling until he jumped to lumber and building materials. The BMC Triad regional market manager seems equally proud of his local BMC Selection Center showroom and his own son’s college soccer career.
Paul Evans is the national VP of millwork. He is described by more than one of his BMC colleagues as “the most interesting man they know,” a status solidified by his recent adventure as a driver in a rally race up and down a volcano off the west coast of Africa.
Together, these two BMC associates represent nearly five-decades of experience with the company. But rather than look ahead to retirement, the two are accelerating into business practices that represent the cutting edge of building product distribution. And they’re loving it.
“We’re a couple of 60-something-year-old guys, and we’re excited every day, because we get to do cool stuff that people at the other places don’t,” said Evans. What kind of cool stuff? There’s the eBusiness tools, the automated takeoffs, the manufacturing strength, the design services – and the teamwork that brings it all together.
Conklin believes the times are changing along with the customers’ demographics. “The younger generation is coming in,” he said. “Some of these builders are all about the latest technology. Can I order online? Can I track my orders? Can I pay my bill online? For all of these questions, we can say: ‘Yes, you can.’”
In an interview with HBSDealer at the BMC Selection Center in Greensboro, NC, the two executives took turns sharing their thoughts on some of the latest ways BMC is bringing innovation to the customer, making home construction easier and leading the charge for new technology. Here are their thoughts on a variety of topics.
- On the BMC collection of eTools designed to improve communication and boost efficiency:
Conklin: Once we place an order into the system, the customer can access that order and see what stage it’s in. Say the customer calls his BMC sales guy on Monday and tell him he needs materials delivered on Thursday. As soon as that is entered, the customer can log into our system and see BMC got his order. He can review it. And he can see that it’s pulled and staged for delivery. So now that customer is feeling good about his project.
Evans: What’s great about that is not only can the builder do all this online, just think about a few years ago. Think about how many phone calls that BMC salesperson had to make to find out all about that stuff. And now they have the ability do it electronically. That gives our salespeople more time to be one-on-one and build their relationship with the builder.
Conklin: So then, Thursday morning when the order is delivered to the job site, the builder is going to get an e-mail or text, and he’s going to get photos from our guys in the field of the permit box, the actual invoice ticket and several pictures of the materials.
What I like about that is, number one, the customer gets notification and can make the calls to start the job, and number two, he doesn’t need to get in his truck and leave his house to check that the order was delivered correctly. BMC makes it easy. Builders tell me our way of doing things saves them time and saves them money.
- On READY-FRAME, the BMC whole-house solution that delivers pre-cut materials ready to assemble and guaranteed to one-sixteenth of an inch specs.
Conklin: “It’s our leader by far. We are really involved in the value-design process, and READY-FRAME has absolutely taken the market by storm.”
- On automated takeoffs and supplier integration:
Evans: For many years, our outside sales guys have been ahead of the curve because they walk houses electronically with their tablet or tough book opposed to an old-fashioned notebook. As the walk with the builder, they hit a button and the information is digitally sent to the nearby BMC location. Now we’re piloting a program that takes it a step further, where information is not only being sent, but it’s in a format the computer can read, which enables us to get an estimate back to the customer quicker. To me that’s innovative. BMC is not afraid of that technology. To my knowledge, this is something that hasn’t been done before.
Conklin: We have one order entry platform across the country. The interesting thing about that is some of the major vendors – the Jeld-Wens, MiTeks, Marvins – we can enter their orders into a quote tool and convert it right into our order entry system automatically. I can place an MI Windows order right now in this location (Greensboro) and have it delivered out of Houston in two weeks, with no glitches.
- On leveraging the strength of BMC:
Conklin: I think it’s the people and the innovation across the company that are the strengths of BMC. We’re partnering with suppliers to make building easier, and we’re working together as a company to serve our customers.
Evans: BMC locations are comfortable leveraging each other and pooling resources to get a job done. A perfect example is our truss design. Let’s say Tim has a truss design job from a builder here in Greensboro, but his local BMC truss designers are backed up. Tim could send it over to our L.A. market to get designed, assuming they have the bandwidth. The truss design gets delivered back to Greensboro on-schedule, and Tim looks like a hero because it’s done in a week, even though his guys are buried. Same applies to manufacturing – the truss could be constructed in Charlotte and shipped if necessary.
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This article is part of the “BMC Builds a Dream Team” series that appeared in the January issue of HBSDealer. Check out the digital edition here.
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