“You need to get out of the rat race. You need to get some big picture thinking going on.” That was Rufus Duncan, when asked why he attends the annual LBM Strategies Conference. In his role as CEO of Higginbotham Brothers Lumber, a successful company with 37 Texas locations, there’s little doubt that running his business would be plenty to keep him busy. But Rufus, along with the 185 or so industry pros who also attended LBM Journal’s big annual event, understands the value of getting away from the day-to-day grind, and gaining a fresh perspective.
In my travels, the conversations I have with others in our industry are invaluable to help me understand the personal perspectives from company to company, and market to market. Combined with the economic reports and overall market trends, these conversations complete the picture of what our industry is experiencing today. While there are variations from market to market, the demand for housing is stronger than it’s been for years, and is forecast to stay strong for the next few years. That’s good news, but it’s no guarantee of success. As always, companies will succeed only to the extent that they’re able to navigate the challenges of today and tomorrow.
For example, when the market is strong, and we don’t have the capability of serving all potential customers, there are decisions to make. That’s why this month’s Real Issues. Real Answers. feature addresses the reality that some dealers face of deciding whether to court production builders at the expense of smaller builders and remodelers. Large builders aren’t in every maket today, but with rampant consolidation among builders, this question will likely become more relevant to more readers as time goes on.
Another big one is finding good people to add to our teams—millennials, in particular. Zeeland Lumber, profiled in this issue, is a standout among the dealers we’ve found that have cracked the code on onboarding with this generation. As President and CEO Mike Dykstra shares, two keys are leadership and technology. “We’ve adopted technology in a way that has driven our ability to attract and maintain our millennial talent.”
Speaking of technology, this issue includes our annual deep dive into the tech tools that can help you attract fresh talent while driving your company’s performance onward and upward. For our In Depth: Tech Tools, Contributing Editor Katy Tomasulo explores the technology that is reshaping our industry through interviews with leading technology providers.
Those articles are just the start. This issue also includes a thoughtful commentary on leadership by Russ Kathrein, President and CEO of Alexander Lumber, an analysis by Lynn Michaelis on immigration and housing formations, and, for your viewing pleasure, a gallery of award-winning decks from NADRA’s annual deck competition.
Apart from this and every issue of LBM Journal, another opportunity for a fresh perspective is coming up January 9-12 in Orlando. If you’ve never experienced NAHB’s International Builders Show, it’d be a powerful way to kick off the new year. Maybe I’ll see you there.