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Resiliency and growth at Epicor LBM conference

Overcoming obstacles and severe weather at the Epicor LBM Conference.

BY Andy Carlo

At a morning keynote presentation delivered by Lisa Pope, Epicor executive vice president of sales, Americas, she discussed how the business software provider’s LBM conference continues to grow each year while building material dealers have persevered numerous downturns in the market.

While Epicor’s first LBM conference – held in the basement of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas more than a decade ago – hosted about 42 LBM customers, the 2019 edition of the conference has more than 800 in attendance.

And as pro dealers have battled through economic changes, including the Great Recession, the bursting of the housing bubble, labor shortages, and sagging lumber prices, homeowners need to overcome the ongoing situation of dramatic climate change.

“We have seen a dramatic shift in weather that affects our industry and how we react to it,” Pope told a ballroom of conference attendees here at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. Pope pointed to those in the 18-to-34 age group who are the most concerned about damage to their property and communities due to extreme weather.

Pope provided a quick personal perspective about her own encounters with serious weather in recent years, including mass flooding in Houston, having to evacuate Saint Martin due to an oncoming hurricane, Epicor offices in California dealing with wildfires and rolling blackouts, and a series of 20 tornadoes that hit the Dallas market in a span of 2 hours this past October.

Referring to the 18-to-34 age group, Pope said, “During their life they have seen consistent weather events happen, and getting more severe, year over year.”

“It represents a challenge for us and an opportunity for us as well,” Pope said. “Consumers want to see structural changes made to homes that can withstand weather.” She also noted that about $500 billion was spent on disaster rebuilding efforts in the United States between 2014 and 2018.

“We can afford to offer and build more resilient homes,” Pope explained. “We really can’t afford not to.”

This includes wind-resistant homes, elevated building designs, power storage, solar power and flood-resistant materials.

Noting how weather has impacted some of Epicor’s customer sales, Pope said that Golden State Lumber, based in Petaluma, Calif., has seen a 40% increase in the sales of fire-treated lumber. Also, New Jersey pro dealer Jaeger Lumber has seen a steady increase in sales of laminated veneer lumber (LVL) since Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012.

Pope has witnessed a surge in Epicor dealer customers who are moving into specialty LBM areas with higher margins.

“Customers are seeing it as a big opportunity to differentiate themselves and specialize in the market,” Pope told HBSDealer.

In the meantime, Pope urged the audience to continue improving their processes. “I strongly believe that people buy from people. And happy employees result in happy customers,” she said. “Service helps drive business.”

Epicor is doing its part to lift business: in the past year,  the company rolled out 200 new features and enhancements across 14 digital releases for its LBM customers.

The moves are paying off with the company enjoying a 99% retention rate among its customers, according to Kevin Hodge, Epicor senior director, product, LBM. He describes the retention rate as “sticky” since customers don’t give up their allegiance to Epicor.

BisTrack – Epicor’s business management solution software – has grown its customer base by 25% since last year’s LBM conference. Additionally, locations using BisTrack have climbed by 10% as new users are up 13%.

In 2018, Epicor rolled out BisTrack 6.0. Hodge said the unveiling of BisTrack 7.0 is in the works for 2020. Part of that launch includes bringing together the best features of BisTrack U.S. and BisTrack U.K., which have varied features and functionality.

“It will be one BisTrack for everywhere,” Hodge said.

Today, Epicor also announced that it has expanded its warehouse management offering to BisTrack users.

In July 2019, Epicor acquired Majure Data, a lumber and building materials warehouse management software provider. Epicor has now he rebranded the former of Majure Data ‘RF Navigator’ solution to Epicor Warehouse Management. Epicor said the move demonstrates its commitment and investment to provide best-in-class warehouse management solutions for building materials suppliers.

The cloud-enabled warehouse management solution enhances productivity and control of processes to guide warehouse staff step by step through daily activities.

“We do counts all the time, and the Epicor Warehouse Management application has dramatically shortened the time it takes by about 10 hours each week. It frees staff to do other tasks such as making sure bin tags are correct and shelves are stocked full,” said Tyler Banken, IT Director, Dunn Lumber.

 

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