No question about it: change is scary. It’s also a primary element of reality, so we’d better get used to it. Beyond merely accepting change, I’m convinced that we and our companies will succeed to the extent that we embrace change, provided of course that the changes benefit our business and our customers.
I just returned from the Do it Best Spring Market in Indianapolis which, like other gatherings of buying group and co-op member companies, was a very positive event. That was no surprise. The surprise was in the event’s vibe: it had a fresh energy and an urgency that I didn’t expect. The message from CEO Dan Starr and Rich Lynch, Vice President of Marketing, was loud and clear. The velocity of change in our business is accelerating. What worked last year, and still works this year, may not next year. The time to embrace sensible business advancements is now.
Remember the yellow pages? I do. In fact, our local version of yellow pages was at our house this morning. It made it as far the recycling bin. With online searches as close as our mobile phone, the way that prospective customers find us is radically different than how it has ever been.
Last month’s LBM Journal had a commentary written by a millennial entrepreneur about e-commerce—specifically, about how Amazon is setting its sights on business-to-business markets. The author shared the timeline of Circuit City’s demise, which happened less than a decade after Amazon launched its Marketplace for third-party sellers. We all know how that ended. I don’t know to what extent Amazon is a threat to the LBM industry. What I do know is that e-commerce is an opportunity that many in our industry write-off as irrelevant. The naysayers have a point. After all, it’s not like someone can order a framing package for delivery via Amazon Prime. Not yet, anyway. Then again, I know one LBM dealer who has devised a clever solution for shipping long length boards—which he does, when a buyer is willing to pay the shipping.
As summer approaches, housing starts are up, remodeling is heating up, and business is good. When our days are filled by entering orders and delivering products, it’s tempting to believe that it’s always going to be like this… that there’s no need to concern ourselves with a changing, evolving market. Anyone who lived through the last recession knows that just ain’t so.
Fortunately, it’s not an either/or decision. There’s no doubt that we need to take advantage of today’s strong market opportunities. At the same time, we need to be aware of the forces of change that are defining our industry. This and every issue of LBM Journal, as well as the LBM Strategies Conference coming to Dallas this September (LBMStrategies.com), aim to help you and your company do both.