I did not live through the depression, but my parents and grandparents did. As a kid I was continually amazed at the effort they made to not waste anything – food, supplies, etc. – even though they had long since moved on to better days. 

Lessons learned in the depression lasted lifetimes. The same is true with the 2008 to 2012 housing bust. Lessons learned then will last a lifetime. My sense is that there will always be lumber and building material deals who chase the big builders and their big volumes. But many LBM dealers who only began to actively court remodelers during the downturn will long remember the sting of their exposure to new-construction and thus stay connected to remodelers – who cost more to service but who tend to be more loyal.

“The thing we value most, and why we went down that path, is there is a consistency in the remodeling world – one that does not exist within new construction,” says Mark Scherer, of Scherer Bros. Lumber Co., in Brooklyn Park, Minn.

Our package of stories this month puts a spotlight on the somewhat high-maintenance relationship between remodelers and LBM dealers. Even though there are many dealers who say they welcome remodelers, it is not all that common to find those that truly understand you. 

In our exclusive research of what remodelers want in a supplier relationship and in our profiles of four LBM dealers who have learned how to profitably serve remodelers we confirmed that what remodelers want most is a single point of contact, timely and correct orders, available inventory and responsiveness. But we also found that there is real opportunity and real money to be saved/earned simply by engaging more directly with your key dealers.

Here is the found money available to remodelers from some LBM dealers. Time: Al Bavry and his team at Kimal Lumber, Nokomis, Fla., recently opened a drive-thru yard where full orders can be loaded into your truck, along with free bags of ice and a thermos full of coffee. Time is also found in the growing ranks of dealers with dedicated remodeling sales staff that offers quick estimates, jobsite measuring and correct orders.

Found money is also available at LBM dealers like Ridgefield Building Supply, where CEO Margaret Price is focused on investing in stocking new and innovative building products that help a remodeler successfully differentiate from the trunk slammers. Got a lot of jobs lined up but not a lot of cash? Price says her firm is willing to extend credit directly to homeowners, therefore allowing remodelers to offload burdensome carry costs and keep extra cash in their businesses.

Mark Scherer says his company knows that remodelers tend to be technology-savvy and that is why his company offers e-commerce and online order tracking, both are ways to stay focused on your customers and not waste time. There is found money in technology connections offered by some LBM dealers.

Read our package of stories this month and see if you can make a list of ideas to bring to your key supplier. There is certainly money to be found in this relationship. And the good news, judging by our interviews with dealers, they will not be abandoning remodeling anytime soon.

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