Editor’s Note: Knowledge as a Service

August 9, 2017 Rick Schumacher

“I don’t make mistakes.” That’s what my 9-year-old son insisted as I drove him to camp yesterday. He was frustrated that his coach didn’t count a crucial goal during a scrimmage. “I’m sure the coach just made a mistake. Everybody makes mistakes—me, your mom, your teachers, your friends—everybody,” I told him. “Everyone but me,” he stated, before uttering the classic four-word sentence at the top of this paragraph. It’s easier to get away with thinking you know everything when you’re a kid and the consequences are limited to words of wisdom from your sage old dad. It gets a little more complicated as we age.

A friend recently had a new roof put on his house, and he chose an advanced polymer product, instead of traditional asphalt shingles. The contractor he chose insisted that his crew was proficient and experienced with all roofing materials. Once the job was complete, it looked great…until pieces of the roof started falling to the ground. As it turned out, longer nails were required when the fastener had to go through two pieces of roofing. By having to send his crew back, armed with the right fasteners and knowledge about this specific product, the roofer’s misplaced certainty ended up costing him time and money. (This story prompted this month’s Tough Call on p. 64.)

Sound familiar? I’ve heard plenty of stories—from manufacturers and LBM dealers—about callbacks and product failures that happened because the product was installed incorrectly. As product categories evolve and improve, installation details are bound to change. Two categories that have grown tremendously over the past 20 years are decking and fasteners. The days are gone when any nail or screw will work with any deck board. If the right fastener isn’t used, the best-case result is an unattractive finished product. The worst case: deck failure.

With the velocity of change moving at break-neck speed, it can be tough to keep up with everything you carry. Which is why the depth of your team’s product knowledge can be a key part of your company’s story.

For example, if someone walks in and wants to buy a tube of caulk, do you point them to the caulking display, or do you talk with them about their project to learn what they really need? Maybe that is what they need. But what if they actually need an adhesive? Or a sealant?

One of our goals at LBM Journal is to make sure that your employees do understand the important differences between products, so they’re armed with the knowledge they need to serve your customers. A great place to start would be the In Depth: Caulks, Sealants and Adhesives on p. 42.

For company leaders, the LBM Strategies Conference 2017 (coming up September 6-8 at The Star in Frisco, Texas) brings together some of the best minds to tackle the key challenges facing our industry. As I write this, there is still space available. Check it out at LBMStrategies.com.

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