At Traver Construction, we have used the same LBM supplier for over 20 years. Our loyalty to Ivey Lumber in Dallas is due to the personal relationships we’ve established with their team members over the years and because of their active involvement in our local NARI chapter. Simply put, they’re involved in things that matter to us—our business and our local builders and remodelers association.
Currently we place all of our lumber orders through Ivey Lumber because they are excellent partners. Their knowledgeable staff tells me exactly what they recommend and helps me quickly obtain the materials I need. Over the years we’ve been able to work efficiently and effectively together.
The following are some recommendations for LBMs that I believe would make them an indispensable partner for contractors, just as Ivey Lumber is to us.
- Host monthly lunch and learns to demonstrate products, answer questions and keep builders up-to-date on new materials. These sessions provide us the opportunity to see firsthand how a product works and to learn proper installation techniques, which helps us better evaluate work on a jobsite. My supplier does this, and it’s extremely helpful in keeping us current on new products and procedures.
- Have a knowledgeable staff that is well-versed in the products they are selling. This helps establish trust and builds relationships, which creates a true partnership between the contractor and the LBM. My supplier is best in class at this, and it makes a huge difference in knowing I can count on them.
- Establish an online ordering system or a real-time online inventory list, so that builders and remodelers can streamline the ordering process. Right now when I’m on a jobsite and need a specific material, I have to pull out my phone or computer and visit the different distributors’ websites to find what I am looking for. If a local LBM dealer had all that information in one place, it would be very efficient to see what’s available and easy to place the order online.
- Implement online order tracking. Being able to log in to view the status of an order, see if it’s at the warehouse, being loaded on a truck, waiting for a driver, or being delivered to the site would help me immensely with planning. I could make sure my crews are on-site with the materials they need to accomplish their job. It takes time for everyone to track down an order without a system like this, so it would be more efficient and convenient for both the LBM and contractor.
- Provide material takeoffs for a set of plans sent over by the contractor. This makes it quick and easy for the materials list to be created and deliveries planned according to the amount of space or schedule at a jobsite. Providing this service during the estimating process would also lead to a more accurate materials list, which leads to lower costs, which can result in more jobs won.
While there is certainly a steep cost associated with implementing some of these technological and in-house upgrades, others are much simpler to enact. Having these services available creates a valuable and mutually beneficial partnership for both the LBM and contractor.