Q: What do you see as the biggest challenge facing LBM dealers?
A: One of the biggest challenges for LBM dealers is finding enough knowledgeable personnel with industry experience. The labor pool has shrunk to the point where it has been difficult to hire quality, educated, building material personnel. At the same time, as we struggle to find staff with industry experience, regulations continue to evolve. In heavily-regulated states like California, more and more time is spent complying with multiple state agencies, and small businesses are hit the hardest by this.
Q: The flipside of that question…what do you see as the biggest opportunity?
A: The flip side of this challenge is, if you can develop a team that understands the opportunity the LBM industry has to offer, the sky’s the limit. In this industry, the customer is not always looking for the lowest price. They demand quality, available building materials when they need them, and the service to come along with it. If you have those three things, I don’t think there is any barrier where you can take your company.
Q: What advice do you have for dealers as they navigate disruptions like unpredictable weather and uncertainty with trade and tariffs?
A: I have three pieces of advice: 1) Choose your suppliers wisely. How flexible/reliable are they, and how does that affect your business? 2) Accept that the world changes much faster than ever before and act immediately to changes whenever they occur, keeping in mind that every day counts. 3) With good quality, availability of products, and excellent service, you will do well, even during foul weather times. Look at Florida. Weather has always been a factor there, and lumberyards and the builders they serve have long been adapting during constant and unpredictable disruptions. This approach would apply to uncertain tariff and trade laws as well. The approach is simple: Calculate what you sold in a year and use that information to forecast and anticipate the next year. This information allows you to make your yearly purchases at once or over a shorter period of time. This way you could possibly guarantee your price and, in many cases, get a better price, and you have materials when needed. This also helps your supplier to be prepared for your coming volumes.
Q: Today’s construction fasteners are far more specialized and sophisticated than ever before. What do you see as the next innovation?
A: Companies that were once leaders in the market have lost their place, and this has occurred mostly because they haven’t paid attention to what today’s contractors need. These companies are now following or even copying companies that are on top of trends and innovations in the market. Innovations may not always be drastic, but subtle changes like quality of steel, deeper recessed drive heads, longer lasting exterior coatings, and a deeper understanding and connection with the contractor will ultimately make the difference for a stronger product and company. Knowing the contractor’s needs will lead to necessary innovations.
Q: Your company has built a reputation for a wide range of quality fasteners and distinctive packaging. What should our readers watch for from Screw Products, Inc.?
A: Screw Products, Inc. has reengineered our line of fasteners. What comes with the new design is not only improved fasteners from the inside out, but branding. We have put our offering into product groups. The structural counter- sinking style screws are branded AXIS. Our finish head screws are branded PICO, Trim heads are branded EPIC, modified truss head, pocket screws, and cabinet screws are branded AURA. Structural Lag screws with a Star drive are branded NOVA, and structural hex head drive screws are branded Yukon. This branding helps the LBM dealers and their customers navigate our Plan-O-Grams much easier, and has a greater impact on contractors purchasing our products. Everyone’s a winner with our new program.
Jim Miller is president and CEO, and self- proclaimed “Screwru” of Screw Products, Inc.. Based in Gig Harbor, Wash., Miller started the company 20 years ago as a way to stay home and help raise his two young daughters. Screw Products, Inc., is deeply ingrained in the building materials industry and Miller is excited to be launching the company’s second generation of screws.