Teams work: trust in supply chain partnerships underscores strategies for an ever-competitive pro dealer environment at the 2002 NLBMDA Conference

Teams work: trust in supply chain partnerships underscores strategies for an ever-competitive pro dealer environment at the 2002 NLBMDA Conference – Pro Watch

Chris Wood

Pat Bennett, vice president of sales for Ace Hardware Canada and former vice president of operations at The Home Depot, brought an industry insider’s warning to the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association’s (NLBMDA) 86th Annual Meeting, held October 10 through 12 in Chicago. “[The] Home Depot is as predatory as they come,” Bennett told more than 220 pro dealers, federated association executives, builders, and vendors in his keynote address. “They want your business and they’ll stop at nothing to get it.” According to Bennett, contractor sales at The Home Depot currently makes up approximately 13 to 14 percent of the company’s annual take nationwide and is a market share that the Atlanta-based retailer is focusing on heavily. “The contractor business is the business [The] Home Depot is after,” Bennett said. “They want pro dealers to have the tract builders and the bad credit risks.”

Far from sobering news, the reminder of the big box threat to pro suppliers had attendees keyed up and energized for the three-day conference that included presentations on mold liability, yard safety, fleet management, installed sales, and supply chain management.

“We need to engage in out-of-the-box thinking and examine the entire methodology of getting materials to a customer,” said outgoing NLBMDA chairman Michael Fritz, president of Greenfield, Mass.-based Rugg Lumber. Fritz, who will be succeeded as chairman by Rick Baumgarten, president of Lee Lumber in Chicago, cited the vertical integration and customer service outreach of Round Rock, Tex.-based Dell Computer as the types of progressive business initiatives the LBM industry could take notice of. “The industry needs to standardize,” Fritz said. “We have to be working more upstream and trusting partners and technology.”

As a manufacturer representative on the supply chain panel discussion, Weyerhaeuser’s David Still echoed Fritz’s comments. Still, vice president and general manager of the Federal Way, Wash.-based company, emphasized that partnering brings more to the table for vendors and dealers alike. “[Execution] is the right stuff at the right place at the right time, no more, no less, everytime,” Still said. “[With partnering], you’re not a single location anymore–you have all the assets of all your partners.”

For those dealers ready to partner up, now might be just as good a time as ever. The national housing picture still looks very good, despite localized pockets where the market economy has slowed. In a housing forecast presentation, Dr. Stanley Duobinis, assistant staff vice president and director of forecasting for the NAHB in Washington, D.C., reassured conference attendees that rumors of a housing bubble were a product of rampant speculation, and that single-family and multifamily markets are expected to remain strong through 2004.

During the conference, annual awards were presented to Daytona Beach, Fla.-based Dunn Lumber and Hyattsville, Md.-based Peoples Supply Co. for excellence in human resources. Lima, Ohio-based Fidelity Builders Supply; Ro-Mac Lumber and Supply of Leesburg, Fla.; and Jay, N.Y.-based Ward Lumber also were recognized for their HR initiatives.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Hanley-Wood, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group