Doing the impossible

Publisher Letter

“People who say it cannot be done, should not interrupt those who are doing it.”

— George Bernard Shaw

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That brilliant quote came to mind during our August 24 webinar, when Shane Soule shared two videos of pitstops during Formula 1 races. The first was from the Indianapolis 500 in 1950, when the pit crew changed the tires, filled the gas tank, and cleaned the windshield “just 67 seconds after he stopped.” The second video was from 2013, when the pit crew did their job in just three seconds.

If the pit crew from 1950 were shown the recent video, there’s no question that some of them would have scoffed and said, “that’s impossible.” And they’d be right. It would have been impossible using their existing tools and techniques. But I’d bet that there’d be at least one in that crew whose imagination was sparked. “Wow! Imagine the advantage our driver would have if we could figure out how to slash time from our stops.”

Shane used that analogy brilliantly when comparing it to the LBM business, and how much of a difference it can make to cut truck turnaround times. It’s especially relevant today, when so many LBM dealers and distributors are wrestling with limited capacity because of a shortage of CDL drivers. He shared an improvement tracking spreadsheet used at his company, which showed truck turnaround averages plunging from 123 minutes to just 60 minutes—within four months—and eventually to under 30 minutes.

For companies limited by driver shortages, that webinar presents one very smart solution. If you haven’t seen the webinar and like the idea of expanding your capacity without adding people or equipment, I urge you to check it out. “Fleet Efficiency 301: Improving Truck Turnaround Times,” at lbmjournal.com, and click the Webinar tab at the top of the page.

In my view, one of the biggest impacts of the pandemic has been the velocity of change. For the building products distribution channel, not known as a hotbed of early adopters, it’s been especially pronounced. Technology overall, and e-commerce specifically, are great examples. Companies whose leaders’ pre-pandemic imaginations were sparked by the potential of e-commerce are reaping the rewards of a healthy head-start over those who took a wait-and-see approach.

As challenging as our current times are, they’re also packed with opportunity. This is good news for those who like the idea of doing things better and smarter, and obviously bad news for those who are convinced that the way they’re doing things is good enough. Change can be tough and disruptive, but if it’s done smart, strategically, and humanely, with everyone from the top down working toward a common goal, the results can be powerful.

Here’s to working together to redefine what’s possible, and reap the rewards for your employees, your customers, and your company.

— Rick Schumacher
Executive Editor & Publisher

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