Secrets to Selling Engineered Wood Products

By / 1 year ago

Six simple ways to amp up your EWP sales.

Ask the average lumberyard dealer how they can grow sales of engineered wood products and you might get an answer similar to Nate Betzold’s. “To be honest, it probably sells itself,” says Betzold, sales and operations manager for Dakota County Lumber, Farmington, Minn.

But that belief may be what’s holding back EWP sales growth, say experts such as Rob Latham, vice president of Springfield, Ohio-based Tri-State Forest Products Inc. During the downturn, many dealers stopped actively selling and started just taking orders. Builders who were sold EWP in the past continued to use EWP, while those not sold it were not offered it. Now that construction is improving, dealers should be thinking more about sales techniques that help move more I-joists, structural composite lumber, and glulam, Latham says.

With the right approach, EWP loyalty built ahead of the economic downturn can be expanded. “Too many lumberyards are just quoting the job,” Latham says. “They’re not showing their customer the value of using EWP or even using one product over another competitor.” Here are six ways experts say lumber dealers can sell the value of EWP:

1: Education
While it may seem as if builders already know everything about EWP, manufacturers have actually created a number of new, innovative products. “A lot of people take for granted that EWP hasn’t changed that much, but you know, there are some things that have,” says Bob Fabian, EWP manager for Weekes Forest Products, St. Paul, Minn. “To be more effective, make sure you’re up to date with the products.” Distributors are ready to help with builder breakfasts and lunches, seminars and one-on-ones with dealers, says Latham. “We definitely feel we can help our partners become better salespeople,” he says.

2: Take control of the sale
Some dealers never engage with the builder on the specifics of the EWP framing package, says Todd Lindsey, president of Eastern Engineered Wood Products, Bethlehem, Pa. “So many times, we provide a tech layout for a dealer and they never check it,” Lindsey says. A better way is to go over the blueprints and placement drawings with builders and review all the construction documents with them. That process will allow dealers to suggest places builders could use EWP to save time and money.

3: Target architects and engineers
These are the professionals who specify products, so knowing who they are and what they prefer can really boost sales, Lindsey says. And doing so is as easy as looking at blueprints and finding the name of the architect and engineer. “A lot of dealers don’t take advantage of this,” he says. “But having an architect spec rep go in and visit with architects can really augment sales of those high-margin products.”

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Marilyn Thompson

Marilyn Thompson is market communications director and corporate secretary for APA – The Engineered Wood Association.