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Showroom Strategies: Sequoia Out Back

With Sequoia Out Back, John Keller went from a deck builder to a supplier of decking and all things outdoor living. The company’s expansive 35,000 sq. ft. showroom features the latest products, and is a well-established destination for homeowners and building pros.

John Keller, Sequoia Out Back
John Keller, Sequoia Out Back

Q: How did your company get started?

A: I’d built a solid decking business, but my local suppliers weren’t able to get me the right products at the right prices. I formed a company to purchase materials from wholesalers and sell it to myself and to other deck builders. Within five years, the lumber company became bigger than the deck building company.

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Q: Having visited your store, it’s clear that you’ve committed to making your showroom a destination. What role does your showroom play in your sales?

A: While most of our sales are to contractors, we mostly market to the homeowner. Homeowners who come to our store, either from our own marketing or a contractor’s recommendation, and we spend time with the homeowner talking about the different products, and the kind of project they envision. By investing time helping the homeowner, that often leads to the contractor buying from us.

Q: Have you had a problem with “showrooming,” where someone views the product in your store then buys it cheaper somewhere else?

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A: At first, I worried about people shopping us then buying from Home Depot or another dealer, but it doesn’t really happen that much. I’m sure it does happen on occasion, but we’ve found that customers appreciate and value what we do.

Sequoia Out Back
Sequoia Out Back

Q: You place a big emphasis on having the latest products on display in your showroom. Why is that important?

A: I want to show and sell what I have in stock. Since our entire showroom is essentially product displays, we’re very focused on replacing discontinued products and colors with the latest from the manufacturers. Every winter, we go over the entire showroom with our manufacturers and identify products that are not current, and the manufacturers help us out somewhat with design—how they want their products to work and to look in our showroom. We don’t replace every display—we keep the staples that sell well and whose colors remain current. But still, with a 35,000 sq. ft. showroom, this is a big undertaking. Co-op funds from the manufacturers are a big help.

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Q: How do you encourage your builder and remodeler customers to use your showroom?

A: We’re no longer in the deck building business, so we refer homeowners to our good deck builder customers. Essentially, our showroom functions as their showroom. It’s packed with current products in attractive displays, which saves them a ton of time, instead of showing their homeowner customers samples and photos, this lets them touch and feel the products.


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