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The solution providers

Big LBM manufacturers are increasingly becoming problem solvers.

BY Andy Carlo

Roughly two months ago, LP Building Products announced that it was changing its brand identity and overall focus to “LP Building Solutions.”

With labor and cost issues hindering the accelerated expansion of home building, some of the biggest brands in the industry have become all-in-one solution providers. They’re deploying new technology and techniques in addition to rolling out new labor-saving products.

Given the number of obstacles the industry faces — from housing affordability to an abundance of building codes and regulations — helping to speed up the building process with quality solutions was one of the catalysts behind LP’s branding change.

“LP is a dependable name amongst building professionals, so it only makes sense to expand our branding to encompass the entirety of the building process,” Cameron Bailey, corporate brand manager for LP Building Solutions, told HBSDealer. “We recognize that the building industry is facing several challenges, such as labor shortages.

“To address these issues and contribute to industry growth, we’re focused on providing solutions to help professionals build better. More than that, LP Building Solutions is focused on pursuing innovation that will transform the way we build,” Bailey added.

LP isn’t alone when it comes to this type of outlook.

“Manufacturers are more than suppliers. Today, we observe manufacturers blending products and services, adding significantly more value that materials alone,” says Todd Tomalak, senior vice president of John Burns Real Estate Consulting, an independent research and consulting firm focused on the U.S. housing industry.

MiTek continues to be one of the industry leaders when it comes to connecting builders, architects, and dealers through software and solutions.

“Our customers’ success is our success,” said Kristi Campbell, vice president of supply for MiTek Residential North America. “We sit down with the customer in a collaborative way to see how customers can succeed, how to make a business run better, deal with the labor shortage, and estimating and controlling costs. We also look to improve communication in the industry and improve the processes to take waste out of the whole system.”

MiTek is doing much more than selling joist hangers. The company views its strategy as one that is supported by “four pillars,” — building products, software solutions, automation, and services such as helping builders through the home plan process.

According to Campbell, the automobile industry provides an example of how these pillars could change the way an industry operates.

“How manufacturers used to build a car and how they build a car today has changed dramatically,” Campbell said. “But if you look at our industry, we’ve kind of been doing the same thing for a long time — there hasn’t been that many changes in how we build things. It’s ripe for opportunities for these types of improvements.”

In March, MiTek announced that it plans to commit “substantial new resources” to its home builder software group and “aggressively accelerate the technology solution offerings it provides home builders.”

MiTek will add 35 new employees in the areas of software development, documentation, support, product management, and implementation services. Through the company’s Sapphire Suite, MiTek connects with just about every aspect of the supply chain.

The company provides Sapphire Structure, for use by component manufacturers; Sapphire Supply, for building material dealers; and Sapphire Viewer, for anyone viewing BIM models. MiTek also offers Sapphire Build for home builders along with BuilderMT, Sales Simplicity, Wrightsoft, and DIY Technologies, among other industry software solutions.

Simpson Strong-Tie, the Pleasanton, Calif.-based structural connectors and fasteners kingpin introduced its new “Builder Solutions” program at the most recent International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas this past February.

The program provides customized training, technology and customer support to help builders and contractors manage design options more efficiently. The goal is to get homes on the market faster, with fewer surprises, according to Simpson Strong-Tie.

The company’s software portfolio was bolstered by the acquisition of CG Visions in 2017. Now that the two companies have integrated into one, CG Visions will adopt the Simpson Strong-Tie name while delivering solutions that help customers build more predictably and more efficiently, the company said.

Simpson recently unveiled the next stage of its Construction Document Management solutions in both 2D and 3D building information modeling (BIM) for the residential construction market.

“We continue to deepen our partnership with top builders, architects, engineers, and the construction supply chain throughout the country by offering scalable software,” said Simpson Strong-Tie Director of Customer-Facing Software Tim Beckman.

Boise Cascade recently introduced the 2.1E Versa-Lam LVL beams and headers with increased Modulus of Elasticity (MOE). This signals Boise Cascade’s shift to a common approach for assigning MOE grades as it simplifies the process for designing wood structures.

The Boise, Idaho-based company also provides SawTek saw services for more than 60 LBM locations. The SawTek machines are located at pro dealers in major housing markets nationwide with some dealers serving as saw hubs for other area yards.

The automated system helps lumber yards better manage offcut inventory, improve overall efficiency and be more competitive.

“Builders like SawTek because it cuts down on errors that can delay projects,” said Tim Debelius division marketing director for Boise Cascade Wood Products. “The system also ensures builders receive job packs that are cut to the specific lengths they need; are pre-routed for plumbing lines, electrical wiring and other mechanical systems; and are labeled accurately for easy placement at the jobsite.

Debelius describes the program in familiar terms.

“We have a vested interest in our customers, so providing them with the tools, data and speed to be more profitable is another way we can help them achieve their business goals and stand out from their competitors.”

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