IBS 2020: Pitching to pros

LAS VEGAS – The 2020 International Builders’ Show continues to be a strong vehicle for top industry retailers making their best products and services proposition to professional customers.

Among major players at this year's event, held here at the Las Vegas Convention Center, were 84 Lumber, Lowe's, ABC Supply and Lumber Liquidators.

Lowe's unveiled a new pro customer loyalty program, Lowe's 4Pros, which will provide professional customers with personalized shopping offers, spending and purchase tracking, and business management tools. The program is expected to fully launch within the first quarter of this year.

At its booth on the IBS show floor, Lowe's brought a collection of popular pro brands while featuring product demos.

"We are bringing on board some of the most innovative pro tools out there in the market," Fred Stokes, Lowe's senior vice president of pro sales and services told HBSDealer.

Stokes didn't hesitate to demonstrate some of Lowe's latest pro-oriented products, including Spyder's carbide tipped hole saw. "As we partner with brands like Spyder or Sherwin-Williams, we are focusing on the needs of the pro customer," Stokes explained.

Scott Matthews, Lowe's vice president of pro sales, said the products along with upcoming demos in Lowe's stores are all part of the retailer's new pro experience. That includes "fast in and fast out" service when pros shop at Lowe's.

84 Lumber's message at IBS focused on the additional products and services the company offers in addition to building materials. A video at the dealer's booth highlighted some of the company's offerings including millwork, design services, and component installation.

"This is a great opportunity to connect with our customers and our vendor partners," said Amy Smiley, 84 Lumber vice president of marketing. "This is that one time of the year when we are all in one place together."

Component manufacturing expansion is high on 84 Lumber's agenda for 2020. Smiley said the company will soon open a new facility in New Britain, Pa., which will service southern New Jersey, Philadelphia and parts of Delaware.

Another component plant is expected to open in the Richmond, Va. market in the third quarter while another facility is slated to open in Mansfield, Ohio to serve the Cleveland and Columbus markets.

Specialty flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators made its case for how it can provide assistance for its pro customers.

"We truly want to be a business partner with our pro customers and help them grow their business," said Steve Stocki, Lumber Liquidators sales and service manager of marketing and merchandising.

Stocki said that pro sales account for roughly 30% of the retailer's sales. "But we are really looking to grow that business," he said. That includes biggers sales to remodelers, home builders, property managers, architects and designers and commercial sales.

Having professional customers utilize Lumber Liquidator's locations and services are part of the mix for bigger sales.

"Our pros can come into the store and work with us or they can just have their customers come in for a visit," Stocki said. "It's white glove service for our professional customers."