Q: With new construction and residential remodeling red hot in many markets, what do you see as the biggest opportunity for LBM dealers?
A: With increasing labor shortages affecting builders, remodelers and subcontractors, the focus is on products, services and support that save time and, ultimately, improve labor efficiency. Builders are also facing an increasingly complex set of building codes and regulations that are changing quickly, creating frustration. LBM dealers are critical to helping builders on all of these fronts. LBM dealers that provide seamless jobsite delivery and service will minimize headaches and save precious time for builders; LBM dealers that provide education on the latest code changes and standards and supply the broadest and deepest selection of the products that help meet these codes will enable builders to deliver a quality product and experience to the homeowner. LBM dealers who are viewed as “partners” in these areas and not just “suppliers” will create the strongest loyalty with builders and, ultimately, gain share and margin opportunities.
Q: What do you see as the biggest challenge?
A: The leading LBM dealers adopt new technologies to improve operations and delivery efficiency, make their sites safer, and create better working environments to retain employees. Progressive LBM dealers offer more installed and offsite manufacturing services that enable builders to outsource common assemblies and components and focus their time on the critical, high value-added portions of the home. LBM dealers are using social media and digital advertising to reach builders, homeowners, architects and engineers and promote the products, services and local-market knowledge that only a LBM dealer can provide. LBM dealers who drive these types of changes will not only survive, but win; those who cling to a rigid and outdated business model will struggle.
Q: Building science has truly changed the way that today’s homes are built. Will advances in building science continue to revolutionize residential construction?
A: There is a confluence of two major trends: government and regulatory agencies are steadily raising the bar for the minimally acceptable building practices and energy efficiency standards through code, and homeowners are becoming more aware of and demanding the best construction methods, products and home-performance standards. These trends will gain more momentum as we look to build more efficient, resilient and durable homes.
Q: What tips do you have for dealers whose builder customers may be reluctant to try something new that could save them time and money?
A: For most builders, “new” means “risky” and they are reluctant to introduce risk into their business. When a new product enters the market, it has usually been through an extensive maturation process already. Our teams in R&D and Innovation at Huber Engineered Woods, for example, have a rigorous process to identify market needs, develop a superior solution and deliver it to the market with the necessary education, information and field support. For dealer sales representatives and builders alike, we encourage our customers to call their local rep, attend “Prove it Tour” events—our traveling product demonstration experience—and reach out to our live Technical Hotline to make sure they get the answers they need to understand how a product benefits them.
Q: With products like ZIP System®, Huber has built a reputation as an innovator. Moving forward, what should dealers watch for from Huber?
A: All Huber Engineered Woods products are developed in response to builder needs. The evolution of how we manage air, water and heat on the exterior is an ongoing conversation. Our involvement with code governing bodies and non-profit advocacy groups for resiliency and energy efficiency points to a continued need to focus on how we promote best practices in this area. In a time when the shortage of skilled labor permeates our industry, tools that help tradesmen and women do their jobs effectively and efficiently are an answer to today’s biggest struggle. Our new ZIP System tape roller leaves a permanent “Z” impression on our ZIP System tape to let crews, managers and inspectors know the pressure-activated tape has been properly rolled. Our new long-reach AdvanTech® subfloor adhesive applicator has been third-party tested to show it can apply 40% faster than traditional adhesive application methods. We have a few more ideas in our product development pipeline, so stay tuned.
Doug Asano is the VP of Sales & Marketing of Huber Engineered Woods LLC and is a member of the company’s senior leadership team. He has been with Huber for 15 years, is responsible for a team of over 100 sales and marketing professionals, and has helped lead the organization to significant growth in people, market share, geographic expansion and revenue.