Business Logistics

Having just attended the ProSales 100 Conference in San Antonio this year, one thing is very evident: Builders are looking for off-site construction solutions (wall panels, floor panels, roof trusses, etc.) that will limit the number of tire tracks onsite and help address the skilled labor shortage. The national builders also understand the importance of reviewing their workflow and portfolio of plans to eliminate wasted steps and streamline designs.

When looking at opportunities to increase structural component production capacity through equipment automation, one of the primary examples many point to is the automotive industry. Component manufacturers (CMs) and lumber producers had a chance to tour one of the nation’s most advanced vehicle manufacturing facilities run by Nissan in Smyrna, Tennessee, as part of the 2019 MSR Workshop in April. Plant tours like these give everyone a fresh perspective on production issues. 

Since I was 14 years old, I just wanted to own my own business. In 1986, I was selling lumber in Texas when the economy collapsed. With the market tanking, they laid off half of the employees. I was fortunate, I was pushed back down to retail sales but I wanted to get back into outside sales. The company’s truss plant began to struggle and I was asked to sell trusses. I said yes, despite not knowing what a truss was, and I have never looked back from there. 

Although the majority of component manufacturers (CMs) have a website according to our website poll, the question remains: Is your website up-to-date and attractive enough to be effective? We all know there are countless reasons to have a website but just having a website, especially an outdated one, is no longer enough in this day and age to be effective and could in fact detract from your business. To this point, a website redesign could help tap into new business opportunities and be a huge return on investment for your company. 

In May of 2018, Door Creek Church broke ground on their new DeForest Campus just minutes north of Madison, Wisconsin. The church was given ten acres by a local developer in what amounts to a suburb of Madison on the edge of urban reach mixed with strong agricultural ties. Originally, a metal building was designed for the church but costs redirected the church’s architect to wood frame construction.

An SBC Industry News poll earlier this year engaged our readers in a conversation about giving tours to student groups that resulted in some common themes we thought were worth exploring. The April article explored the primary commonality among those component manufacturers (CMs) that take the time to engage with students: They all simply believe it’s the right thing to do. As we continue to delve into this topic, a second important trait to explore about CMs who host student tours is they all have a willingness to try to engage with local educators. 

Rick Parrino will tell you that one of the most important business decisions a component manufacturer (CM) can make is to foster new and beneficial relationships with building and fire officials, builders, elected officials, and all other trades. Doing so gives CMs a new lens through which to view the manufacturing and installation of the trusses, wall panels, and engineered products they sell.

“Internships are a perfect way for us to get to know an individual and for the individual to see what a career in the component manufacturing industry would be like. If both sides come to the conclusion that it’s a good fit, it’s a win-win situation and an opportunity for both parties to be successful,” says Mike Petrina, plant manager at Wisconsin Building Supply. “The internship exposes them to a lot of different projects and you can figure out what their strengths and weaknesses are in designing and determine where their passion lies.”

This article will briefly explore how these calls can impact a CM’s bottom line and a few ways in which CMs can proactively work with tradespeople to avoid such issues. Truss repairs can very easily turn a profitable job into a money losing project. The cost incurred with this type of repair goes beyond the price of the materials. Costs for determining the issue for repair, designing the repair, and implementing a repair solution shouldn’t get lost in your accounting books. 

With respect to your business, what do you dwell on before you go to sleep? What’s the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning? If I were to hazard a guess, I would say the most common answer in our industry right now is related to labor challenges and greater production. Given all we have been learning at the SBCA meetings over the past year, I would argue we also need to be constantly focused on our exposure to risk.