NARI members discuss what they value in their LBM suppliers.

A recent online poll by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) found that 88% of its members preferred buying their lumber and building materials from designated suppliers—not big box stores.

“There’s an old adage that people do business with people they know, like and trust to develop and build relationships,” says Paul Zuch, CR, president of Capital Renovations Group in McKinney, Texas. “They [LBMs] take good care of us and we are loyal to them and reward them with business.”

NARI recently spoke with three builders and remodelers about why they prefer working with lumber and building material suppliers. Their reasons for using LBMs were similar. It all came down to having great customer service with designated account representatives, quality materials, knowledge, and opportunities for further education and training.

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Customer Service
Customer service is the most important factor for their loyalty to their building and material suppliers, according to those interviewed for this article. Builders and remodelers appreciate the convenience of being able to call, text or email if they’re missing materials.

“We don’t want to delay the project—that’s critical,” says Zuch, who purchases 85 to 90% of his lumber building supply materials from Davis-Hawn Lumber & Architectural Millworks, and BMC Lumber Materials. “We use trade carpenters and it gets really frustrating dealing with big box stores because basically if you need something you have to drop what you’re doing and get it yourself.”

Dennis D. Gehman, CR, CKBR, president of Gehman Design Remodeling in Harleysville, Pa., recalls that recently their builders were short three sheets of luan plywood. They called their supplier, Peter Lumber, who was 15 miles from the jobsite and they quickly delivered the materials.

Dedicated Account Representatives
Builders and remodelers also appreciate the fact they have dedicated salespeople to address concerns or needs. “We can send our salesmen building plans and they have people who are trained to go through those plans and do an accurate lumber take-off for us and provide us with material quotes, which is a hugely invaluable service,” says Zuch. “That takes a huge load off of my time and my project manager’s time”.

LBMs who take the time to build relationships with their clients tend to have staff that stays with their companies for the long haul. Gehman has worked with Limerick, Pennsylvania-based Peter Lumber Company for years and purchases about 80 to 85% of their materials from the company. He’s been dealing with the same two people at Peter Lumber for the 24 years he’s been in business. “The people that I am talking to are more knowledgeable, and part of that certainly is because of longevity.”

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