Jase DeBoer is a senior category marketing manager with UFP Industries. He leads the marketing and branding efforts for the Decks, Docks and Porches category including ProWood treated lumber and Deckorators brands.
Q: As we enter the second half of 2020, remodeling and new housing starts are strong in most markets. What do you see as the biggest opportunity for dealers?
A: The remodeling market has seen consistent growth in recent years, and now more than ever homeowners are spending more time in their homes and are willing to invest in their outdoor living spaces. I believe a big opportunity for dealers is to position themselves as a resource to builders and homeowners. Having a staff that is truly educated about the many brand, product, and material options is key. There are differences in materials and technologies, differences in price points and what features you receive or forfeit at each level, nuances to how the product installs, and pros and cons to competing products in different scenarios. Providing this knowledge to builders and homeowners—as well as valuable services that save time for builders—allows dealers to differentiate themselves.
Q: The flipside of that question, what do you see as the biggest challenge?
A: Labor is an issue for contractors. Not just labor, but skilled, knowledgeable labor—and a shortage of young building professionals in the queue. The challenge for dealers is to find innovative ways to help beyond the product. Certainly, offering quality products or labor-saving product solutions will help on jobsites, but being evangelists for the LBM industry and recruiting and educating new entrants to the workforce will help meet the growing demands for home improvement products.
Q: The outdoor living market is healthy and growing. What trends do you think will have the largest impact in the next 3-5 years?
A: I believe innovation that truly resolves issues will be what defines the years ahead. Products and services developed to meet consumer demand, fresh design trends that address homeowner concerns like slip resistance, or help contractors with labor concerns and ease of installation, will stand out. We make it a point to truly listen to contractors. Dealers that offer products and services that address contractor concerns will prove successful in the years ahead.
Q: Decking is a very competitive category, and treated wood has evolved significantly in just the past 10 years or so. Can you give our readers an idea of what developments to watch for?
A: Manufacturers are looking for ways to reduce the cost of wood-alternative decking and to bridge the space between composite and treated—all while balancing the features that builders and homeowners have come to expect from wood-alternative decking. At the same time, there has never been more innovation in the category—both in wood-alternative and treated wood decking products. Treated options continue to offer kiln-dried products, long lasting color-treatment, and new high-quality options for joists and structural applications. Where wood-alternative decking has worked to close the price gap, so has treated, with higher-end decking options in appearance or thickness—as well as treated options for above-ground and ground-contact scenarios. There will continue to be a market for treated wood, as well as a demand for quality, low-maintenance wood alternative decking.
Q: As of January 1, Universal Forest Products refreshed its organizational structure. What does that mean for LBM Journal readers?
A: Universal Forest Products is now UFP Industries. We have evolved from a lumber wholesaler to a mixed materials manufacturer and solutions provider serving thousands of business customers. Our new segments—UFP Retail Solutions, UFP Construction and UFP Industrial— will be much more focused on their individual markets. For LBM Journal readers, this means increased speed to market and better product and customer alignment.