Transparency in a fragmented industry
In a simple, one-way transaction, “transparency” can be explained as, “I will show you everything I have, everything I know.”
In a two-way exchange, it could be articulated as ”I’ll share all my information if you do the same.” Of course, this is an insufficient approach when it comes to business dealings, because we know that transparency is not that simple.
While it is about honesty and clarity, it does not mean sharing everything. Instead, beneficial transparency is about sharing the information that has a positive impact for both parties in a transaction.
The purpose of this article is to acknowledge and examine the Lumber and Buildings Materials Industry supply chain as multi-dimensional; it is fragmented, layered, and complex. We need to be cognizant that the various layers of any LBM transaction include multiple methods to access the market and potentially multiple decision-makers at the buyer’s lumberyard and at mills, wholesalers, brokers, and distributors.
If you ask this question of a lumberyard operator, “How many suppliers do you have?” you are likely to get an answer like, “Well, I have 200 or so product suppliers I work with in any given month, and I might talk with a thousand different suppliers in a given year.”
So, any single lumberyard understands that they have a thousand different entities with whom they may interact to access the market.
In contrast to how the LBM supply chain operates, if I think about my personal, purchasing world, it feels much different. Even though Amazon has an expansive universe of suppliers, there is a single set of tools used to access all of those suppliers.
But from a lumberyard's perspective, when they are buying panel products for instance, there are mills, there are distributors, and there are brokers, all of whom may carry that material and each of which has different terms, delivery times, ordering systems, reliability and quality. Hundreds of suppliers, each with its own distinct attributes and access methods -- that is fragmentation.
Whether via email, phone calls, or an individual supplier’s portal, there isn’t a distinct and singular place where you go to buy lumber. Sellers have vested interests - their inventory, their relationships, and their perceived control. Sellers also have different capabilities - their reliability in delivering on time, the quality of their manufacturing, the terms they extend.
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Matt Meyers is the founder and CEO of Yesler, a marketplace for the LBM Industry built by experienced veterans of the industry. Yesler is the culmination of 23 years of operational experience and innovation across all aspects of in the lumber and building materials supply chain. In 2014 he became Director of Marketing for Weyerhaeuser's Trus Joist brand of engineered wood products. By 2015 he was leading $3.5 billion in revenue across Weyerhaeuser’s lumber, panels, and engineered lumber as vice president of sales, marketing, and supply chain.