|A Georgia-Pacific employee since 2010, John Beers III manages inside sales, field sales staff, and specialty product sales for GP OSB facilities. Prior to Georgia-Pacific, Beers was Field Representative with Grant Forest Products. He has been in the building products industry since 2000.|
With housing on a solid growth curve in most markets, what would you define as the clearest opportunity— as well as the biggest challenge—facing LBM dealers?
From our conversations with builders and dealers the biggest challenge appears to be labor. During the downturn, our industry experienced a mass exodus of all types of jobs, and a lot of those people haven’t returned. These jobs range from skilled construction on the jobsite to a variety of jobs at the lumberyard. In many locations, project completion has been delayed by the inability to get the right quantity and type of labor onsite when they need them. Using less experienced crews increases the likelihood of rework.
We feel it is important for the LBM dealers to seek out and take advantage of innovations that can both speed up the building cycle, and make it easier for a less experienced work force to install building products correctly.
There has been a tremendous amount of consolidation, especially among LBM dealers and manufacturers. What do you see as the long-term impact of consolidation on the LBM distribution channel?
From our perspective it is more important than ever to focus on the quality and service aspects of our business, and sometimes that is an area where focus can be lost during consolidation. Price will always be a major factor in product selection, but having a consistent and quality selection of products, and a knowledgeable staff that gives an excellent level of service will be a key to success. As a less experienced and younger workforces emerges the dealer can lend their expertise to help educate the next generation of builder.
From your perspective, how would you describe the future of the independent LBM dealer?
The housing downturn resulted in about half the number of LBM dealers going away. The ones who survived are healthy and very busy right now, and we are confident they will continue to thrive. From our experience the most successful dealers are that way because of their service levels and the knowledge of their staff. It is very important that the dealers work with their suppliers so they are educated on new products and how new codes may impact building practices.
New products are being introduced at a higher rate than ever, and dealers must take advantage of the tools that manufacturers make available to them to help builders make the best decisions on products and systems for their homes. Helping builders understand new products and innovations as they are introduced can help make the builder more profitable while building a better house.
Product innovations driven by building science and technology are disrupting the way that homes are built. How can LBM dealers leverage these changes to help their builder customers grow their business?
Building codes and practices can be slow to change, but we are seeing growing demand from home builders and home buyers for innovations that address needs in straightforward ways. Working to stay current with their builders’ needs and identifying steps they can take to help builders be successful is an important way for LBM dealers to leverage the changes in building practices and building products we are now seeing in home construction.
GP has recognized the changing landscape and has a commitment to help builders manage these labor challenges and deliver quality products to their customers in less time and hopefully for less money.
Our new ForceField® air and water barrier system is a good example of that. For years, installing house wrap as a weather barrier has been a tried and true method for protecting homes. But we saw a need in the market for a product that could be installed faster and easier, so we developed the ForceField system, which has an integrated air and water barrier. Installing ForceField is 37% faster than installing housewrap, and also requires less manpower. This has the potential to lead to significant savings for the builder.
Georgia-Pacific has a storied history in the building products industry, which has continued with some notable recent product introductions. What should dealers look for from your company in the next few years?
In the very near term we see opportunities to integrate more products and performance into our panels. These could potentially include insulation, enhanced permeability, fire resistance, and more. We are also working hard to understand and maximize the compatibility of our products and systems with those products that are customarily adjoined to our products in some fashion—including tapes, foams, glues, sealants, and fasteners. It’s definitely a very exciting time for the building industry, and for Georgia-Pacific.