Q: With a continuing strong demand for housing and remodeling in most markets, what do you see as the biggest challenge facing LBM dealers?
A: Labor. In addition to the skilled labor shortage of builders and contractors, dealers are also greatly affected by the lack of available talent-for-hire. This deficit emphasizes the need for retaining existing, solid performers. If dealers can find and retain a stellar sales staff, they can create better value and deeper relationships with their customers and avoid the pitfalls of an “order-taker” mentality— which will go a long way in setting them apart from the competition.
Q: The flipside of that question…the biggest opportunity?
A: The willingness for both manufacturers and distributors to engage as true partners with their dealers. The top building products manufacturers realize the need to fully support and pull sales through the dealer. In 2018, Palram fully staffed a team of sales development specialists. The primary responsibility for this position is to pull sales through the channel by calling on architects, builders/ contractors, and targeting projects. Dealers can take the opportunity to partner with those manufacturers that have the dedicated sales resources who act as an extension to their own sales teams to help drive business.
Q: What is the role of PVC and polycarbonate products in today’s high performance buildings?
A: To address the pain points felt by contractors and builders. As a manufacturer, it’s important to provide solutions to counter the negative effect that rising labor costs have on a project’s profitability. This is why we were the first to market with a protective masking (EverClean) that allows the product to remain in pristine condition from production to finished construction. Punch lists are executed much faster when there is less time spent on the aesthetics of the product. And the next job can be started that much sooner.
Also, along with being recyclable, PVC and polycarbonate products offer long-term weatherability and UV protection. They provide maintenance-free care and are an excellent displacement for failed wood. End-users can avoid spending future monies on painting, repair or replacement costs.
Q: What can dealers do to boost their sales of moldings and other high-margin millwork products?
A: Talk with and educate their customers about all the value-added options available. For instance, using pro- files, like Palight ProFinish, are proven to speed up installation on the job site. And now with sand and clay Color2Core trim options available, dealers can offer a paint-free solution that reduces the number of subs needed on a job site. This all adds up to savings for the contractor and higher margins for the dealer. I have found that once a contractor uses these value-add items once, they rarely go back to slower, more labor-intensive installations of the past. When they understand they will save time and money, it is a no-brainer.
Q: From your perspective as a manufacturer, what do you see as growth areas for PVC and polycarbonate products in the residential construction and remodeling markets?
A: Innovation as a solution-driven company first and a partner supplier to the industry as a close second is what will drive future growth in the plastic construction materials market. The ability to listen to the end-user needs and provide solutions that not only address the current requirements but inspire the next step forward.
Justin Clauer joined Palram in 2016, he currently serves as the senior regional sales manager for the Midwest, West, and Canadian markets. Clauer served in business development, operations, and finance in prior manufacturing and commercial banking roles. Clauer graduated from Arizona State University in 2005.