Q: There’s no shortage of challenges facing lumber/ building material dealers. In your view, what do you see as their single biggest challenge?
A: Labor, particularly CDL truck drivers. Dealers may need to look for unique solutions as there is no end in sight to this problem. At True Value we partnered with Ryder Logistics in 2015 to handle our deliveries, allowing us to leverage their pool of drivers, making seasonal and business cycle adjustments much more manageable. Dealers that can creatively manage this shortage and deliver the product to the jobsite when the customer wants it are best positioned to gain market share.
Q: The flip side of that question: what do you see as their single biggest opportunity?
A: In the end, this is a relationship business and I believe dealers have an opportunity to leverage relationships with their customer base to be unique in their market. I have found past success in listening to feedback from both customers and my sales teams, finding gaps in the market and smartly investing in those opportunities. At True Value, we utilize a powerful analytics tool to help identify opportunities for existing dealers looking to grow into new businesses and those looking to expand into new markets, we can even leverage the dealer’s own data to customize the model to best suit their business needs. Take risks! Having a multiyear plan that attacks market gaps by leveraging a dealer’s power of being fast and nimble can absolutely be a game changer in any market.
Q: Consolidation, among LBM dealers as well as wholesalers and manufacturers, continues to redefine our industry’s landscape. What is the impact on
True Value’s growth strategy?
A: Most retail-focused industries and those that provide products and/or services to those industries are being impacted by consolidation. This continued consolidation is inevitable and the key to continued growth during these times is a flexible sales force. At True Value, we have several divisions within our growth organization that are designed to embrace the retailers’ needs and independence; whether that be a rental retailer with one location or a lumber dealer with over 100 locations, we have teams in place to handle their needs. Dealers need to ensure they are leveraging every resource to its fullest, particularly their sales team.
Q: How do you view the future of the independent lumber dealer?
A: Dealers that are not afraid to embrace change have a very bright future. It is often easy to become comfortable with daily routines, particularly when business is as good as it has been recently. LBM dealers need to challenge their teams to look for and embrace change, from ecommerce strategies to optimization of their supply chain, putting them in a position to not just meet the customers expectation but anticipate future expectations.
Q: With the partnership by ACON Investments in 2018, how is True Value positioned to help drive value for LBM dealers into the future?
A: ACON, as our financial sponsor, has allowed True Value to accelerate our strategic plan and to be a more flexible supplier and service provider. Just this year alone, we’ll be infusing over $100 million for new distribution capacity, which will help accelerate the modernization of our supply chain. In addition, we plan to continue to focus and make significant investments in technologies to support our customers in areas such as: pricing tools, omnichannel solutions/ecommerce and innovation in marketing with our new digital packages.
Another great example is the launch of our new Pro Yard at our 2019 Spring Reunion in Dallas. True Value’s experienced merchandising team has created Pro sets leveraging national brands designed to meet the LBM dealer’s professional customer’s hardware needs. This program is 100% warehouse supported, eliminating the need to deal with multiple vendors to support these categories, thus helping LBM dealers be more efficient with their hardline replenishment needs.
As senior director of strategic alliance accounts at True Value, Jason Blair is responsible for the growth and management of nearly 40 strategic accounts comprised of over 700 stores. He has been in the hardline/LBM industry for more than 25 years and has vast experience managing multiple unit home centers, lumberyards and truss manufacturing facilities.