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January-February 2003

 

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The Big Payoff
Take a Chance and Learn Something at IBS

by George Lorenz

Those of us who are one-step or two-step millwork distributors and whose customer focus is the professional home builder have a unique opportunity waiting for us at the 2003 International Builders’ Show®, being held January 21-24, 2003, in Las Vegas.

The millwork market continues to experience the same rapid changes happening throughout our entire industry. The relevance of continuing to use traditional channels of distribution is being questioned and put to the test. To remain viable, we must continue to focus on knowing our customers’ needs and finding the best ways to recognize and fulfill them.

Successful builders are looking for the same things we are. They are searching for ways to differentiate themselves to build a more profitable business. Our challenge is to identify the additional products and services they need from us that will enable them to meet the needs and desires of today’s new-home buyer. And just how does all of this relate to your attendance at the International Builders’ Show?

Professional home builders are demanding that we provide them with more value if we expect to remain a vendor in their supply chain. But just what do they mean by more value? And how do we become more important to them? This is where your "Big Payoff" awaits you in Las Vegas. 

When you attend the International Builders’ Show, do it with a marketing perspective focused on the specific needs of your customers. Find the best way to connect with your customers who will be attending the show. They want to know that you are interested in their business and that you are willing to offer them the products and services they require to meet the needs of their 
customers.

To get started contact your local NAHB office. They have a list of their members who have registered to attend the event in Las Vegas. Prior to the show, send a letter to each builder located within your market that has indicated they will be attending. Ask them to share what new products or additional services they discover that will be of value to their business. Ask if it would benefit them to have these products available locally from you. Implement a follow-up phone survey after the show to gather the information from anyone who doesn’t respond directly to your letter.

While at the show be sure to visit a broad cross-section of exhibitors. This approach allows you to get a good sense of which trends are evolving. One good example is to observe what the kitchen cabinet manufacturers are displaying. These suppliers have had a long history of providing us a very good preview of the wood species, colors and designs of their latest cabinets. 

The products they exhibit have a significant influence on the interior millwork products we will be asked to provide builders in the coming building season. Your customers will be looking for you, or suppliers like you, to make these products available to them in their local markets.
Visit the kitchen cabinet manufacturers at IBS. These companies give a good preview of what will influence the millwork industry this year.
Other significant drivers of style, color and design are the window and door manufacturers. Carefully examine what is being featured in their exhibits. Is your current millwork offering compatible with the architectural designs being showcased? Having first-hand knowledge of these trends can give you an advantage over your competition in several ways. Your firm will be able to move more quickly to introduce the products that are right for your customers. With this new insight, you can position your product offering to make it easier for the builder to purchase the millwork that is compatible with his 2003 home designs.

The vast array of products shown in the exhibit halls, the variety of species, the multitude of designs and what seems to be a never-ending number of features can be overwhelming. But don’t be discouraged. The professional home builders who matter to you will tell you what they want. Just ask them!

The International Builders Show has just what your strategic plan for 2003 needs. It has the answers. Are you willing to take a chance in Las Vegas? Odds are in your favor that you will receive a big payoff! 

 


George Lorenz
George Lorenz
is the 2003 president of the National Sash & Door Jobbers Association, based in New Port Richey, Fla., and he is also president of Western Building Products of Milwaukee.

 


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