Brand Talk: The building and logistics economy
Building and Logistics by Weyerhaeuser Distribution
In most regions throughout the U.S., the home building and remodeling market continues to recover and grow at a steady pace looking positive and strong well into 2020. While these positive trends are encouraging for many sectors of the construction industry — from builders, manufacturers and suppliers — there are challenges in keeping up with demand.
Across the U.S., skilled construction labor continues to be a major concern from cost to availability — more than 1.5 million residential construction workers have left the industry since 2011. Coupled with a reported 900,000 truck drivers needed to meet rising demand to move goods in the U.S. our industry is facing the perfect logistics storm — from the product manufacturing to distribution and dealers to the builder and eventually, the homeowner.
There’s a lot of competition for younger people entering the workforce and many of them are not choosing technical and skilled labor fields. It’s no surprise then that one of the biggest challenges facing the housing and economic recovery is transportation and delivery. Even with the logistical squeeze in the marketplace, Weyerhaeuser Distribution is able to consistently deliver what customers need — on-time and in-full — to support their business in getting product to the market quickly and efficiently.
Turning challenge into opportunity
Weyerhaeuser Distribution has always been an innovative business, and human capital is its strength. From flexing its fleet to changing normal delivery business hours, Weyerhaeuser works closely with each customer to better understand their needs and identify solutions, together.
In heavily-populated areas of the U.S. our drivers are leaving Weyerhaeuser Distribution centers between 1:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. to ensure a 6:00 a.m. delivery. “We are almost a 24-hour business today,” said Joe Baker, area general manager, Easton Distribution.
“A number of our transportation partners work out of our distribution centers and watch the truck board to assist with aligning smooth deliveries,” said Roger Gilley, national product development manager, Weyerhaeuser. This ensures ongoing communications between the Weyerhaeuser sales force, the delivery team and the customer.
Building trust through transparency
What truly sets Weyerhaeuser apart is its people. Open and honest communication with distribution and dealer partners are the key to the company’s success. While not every delivery will be next day, it’s important to manage expectations and provide timely information to help customers keep up with demand and not make decisions in a vacuum.
“Our partners appreciate our openness regarding pricing and delivery and communicating what’s to come,” said Brad Brubaker, area general manager, Charlotte Distribution. “Our strength is consistency and not springing any surprises,” particularly when it comes to managing delivery expectations.
Weyerhaeuser is continually developing its staff and coaching them. “We develop our people cross functionally, so we can flow work to different areas or teams as needed,” said Graziella Terranova, area general manager, southern California Distribution. “We implement active people development and make sure that everyone is able to problem solve and pull from their innovative side.” This is important as the market struggles with skilled labor and transportation shortages.
Strength in partnerships
Constantly communicating with its suppliers to make sure materials are in-stock for customers is a top priority. Many of Weyerhaeuser Distribution’s supplier relationships span several years — some who stood by during the recession when circumstances were very different.
Long-term relationships with suppliers have helped Weyerhaeuser Distribution service customers in demanding market conditions. “We’ve been able to partner across markets as it permits and expand our offerings with high-performing alternative products as needed,” said Amy Warren, director of business and sales development with Weyerhaeuser Distribution.
Products and delivery are key to every distributor, but what creates long-term competitive advantage is expertise in service, field support, education and even marketing. “We’re an important part of our customers business from our diverse product line, on-time delivery, and customer service,” said Baker.