Emery-Waterhouse Creates Its Own Green Catalog
166-year-old distributor takes the initiative to go green and stay fresh.
By John Wagner
I recently delivered the keynote address at the Emery-Waterhouse Marketplace, held in Providence, R.I. Founded in 1842, Emery-Waterhouse is an independent, mid-size distributor based in Portland, Me., that through Distribution America leverages about $2 billion in annual purchasing power. Nice folks. Real straight shooters. You could tell that by the way the yard buyers interacted with Emery’s sellers. It’s all done on a good-old-fashioned, first-name selling basis.
But as old as Emery-Waterhouse is, it’s a cutting-edge company in green practices. Back in 2006, before many other distributors recognized the competitive advantage offered by going green, Emery- Waterhouse started strategizing for a “Go Green” initiative.
“The housing market was beginning to exhibit signs of a correction at that time. We also began to explore how we could assist Emery’s customers in tapping into the emerging green trend in our industry,” explains Tim Mathis, Emery-Waterhouse’s vice president of marketing. “I went out and talked to our customers about what they were seeing in market trends, and the green topic surfaced repeatedly.
“Our dealers reported an increase in questions from builders on product sourcing and the green features of products. And then we saw a Wall Street Journal article in February 2007 that said ‘While Housing Withers, Green Materials Bloom.’ That really hit home with us,” adds Mathis.
Emery introduced its green initiative to key customers, at places like Mid Cape Lumber, Hancock Lumber, Herrington’s, Rings End, and HG Paige. The customers were all supportive.
Emery’s initial efforts focused on setting its own standards for identifying what’s green, based on widely accepted green best practices. With these standards in place, Emery found vendors’ products that complied with the standards. Then, Emery made it easy for their dealer customers to identify the green products in the Emery warehouse by offering those products in a separate listing within a Go Green catalog.
They also created Go Green shelf talkers so that dealers could showcase the green products they stocked for their customers. Finally, Emery created merchandising solutions with Go Green end-caps and signage.
The response I saw at their Marketplace was remarkable. Dealers streamed in to get the Go Green catalog after the program was explained in the breakout sessions. “This is only the beginning for Emery- Waterhouse, because we are always looking for ways to enhance the Go Green program” says Mathis. “Knowledge is key in this quickly moving segment, so we’ll continue to participate in seminars and shows to stay at the forefront of this industry movement.”
For its customers, Emery sponsored green training and seminars at their recent Marketplace, and they are in the process of developing relationships with experts to ensure the integrity of their programs.
“It isn’t enough for us just to be one of the first distributors offering a green program to our dealers. We want to provide the right green solutions so that our dealers have the ability to capture their share of this large, fast-growing segment,” adds Mathis. “Even at 166 years old, Emery-Waterhouse is striving to implement new and innovative ways to make our business model and operations greener than they are today.”
The award-winning author of 10 books and a sought-after green trainer and keynote speaker for dealer events, JOHN D. WAGNER is the Green Editor for LBM Journal and the content manager for the Certified Green Dealer Program. John.Wagner@LBMJournal.com
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