BMC: Keeping ‘em happy

BY Brae Canlen

Anyone in the LBM trade knows it’s all about keeping the customer happy, whether he be a remodeler with a pick-up full of plywood sheets or a purchasing agent with a spreadsheet. A customer will let you know he’s happy by bringing back more business or making a referral. Sometimes, he will even tell you. All you have to do is ask.

Chris Warr, a purchasing agent for David Weekley Homes in the Austin, Texas, market, inherited BMC from his predecessor. The company (then called BMHC) had been supplying the production builder for 10 years, and Warr saw no reason to change. Five years later, he feels the same way.

“[BMC] has a solid knowledge of the local market and a good understanding of what our goals are,” Warr said. “They’re the closest thing to what we would call a true partner.”

David Weekley, a production builder with operations in more than 16 cities, purchases panels, millwork, hardware and turnkey framing from BMC, and Warr estimated their business is “knocking on $10-plus million on an average year, depending on the market.” The Boise, Idaho-based pro dealer also installs some of these products.

Construction services can be tricky, both in terms of pricing and execution. “It’s been an evolution over the past five years,” Warr said. When he contracted with BMC to frame houses, it caused some friction in the local market, but BMC smoothed this out by hiring some of the key framing crews in town — something Warr said he appreciated.

Keith Costello, VP sales and marketing for BMC, said the company is “not just in this to sell a 2 by 4. We want to bring them solutions.” While this often means bundling installation with products, Costello is also talking about proposing changes to a building’s design to save on costs. A BMC rep might even show a different style of cabinet to homeowners, one that better fits their tastes and their budget.

“[Custom builders] don’t have the resources that the nationals have, so they’re looking to us for different ways to get the job done more quickly and efficiently,” Costello said.

Candlelight Homes is one of those customers, although Joe Salisbury’s company dwarfs that of a typical custom home builder. Salisbury is a partner in the Utah firm currently building homes in the Wasatch Front, the area surrounding Salt Lake City.

Candlelight Homes uses BMC to do about half of its framing. “They prebuild a lot of it and bring it over,” Salisbury said. “But they can make changes quickly. They’re not just a framing crew.”

Indeed not. BMC operates both a wall panel plant and a truss manufacturing facility in West Jordan, Utah, not far from the headquarters of Candlelight Homes.

Salisbury also purchases interior trim, base molding, shelving, door hardware and the doors themselves, both interior and exterior. BMC installs all these products, too. The Utah home builder said he likes the fact that BMC can “work across multiple contracts.”

John Osborne, one of two sales reps who works with Candlelight, estimates that BMC is supplying materials and services to 20 different Candlelight homes right now. “We sell all the different categories, so they can buy a lot from one shop,” he said.

Salisbury is also happy with the pricing — ‘They’re priced right,” he said — and most important of all, the service. “They’re responsive,” he added. 


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