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Five Questions With: Ralph Bruno, Derby Building Products

By / January 9, 2018
Ralph BrunoRalph Bruno was recently named CEO of Derby Building Products (formerly Novik, Inc.), which manufactures Tando and Novik brands. Bruno is responsible for providing strategic direction and leadership for the company. Prior to joining Derby, Bruno served as National Sales Manager of Trex Company in the early 1990s before starting AZEK Building Products in 2000, where he served as President until 2009.

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Q: With housing and remodeling doing well in most markets, what do you see as the biggest opportunity for LBM dealers?
A: Taking advantage of what the market is looking for in both design and consumer lifestyles. Products like Tando- Stone and Beach House Shake by Tando meet design trends for mix material on exteriors while satisfying homeowners demands around no upkeep and moisture management. With unique products that represent the next conversion in home exteriors, dealers can look forward to great margins and leads, leads, leads.

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Q: On the flipside of that question, what do you see as the biggest challenge?
A: The biggest challenge in all construction both new and repair and remodel is the shortage of labor. Selecting products that are fast and easy to install helps alleviate concerns around labor. Tando products feature easy-to-use starter strip, and uses tools that are used for all mainstream cladding products. Beach House Shake product can be installed with a pneumatic nail gun, for even faster installations.

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Q: What design trends do you see driving the exterior cladding market today, as well as over the next couple of years?
A: The hottest trend we are seeing on homes, as well as multi-housing and senior living facilities, is to use more stone products on the exterior as well as stained shakes in the gables and dormers. This mixed materials design is going mainstream at all price points. The builder or consumer can select the siding of their choice for the middle of the structure. The fastest growing siding products for these applications have been fiber cement, engineered wood siding and stucco. The builder can complement these products with TandoStone as the knee wall and our new Signature Stain in the gable, providing what we call the hats and shoes of the exterior.

TandoStone offers a level of realism and natural beauty, right down to its authentic texture, that the industry has never seen before. It is lighter, more workable, and much easier and faster to install than stone or stone veneer. It features a proprietary coating to protect against harmful UV rays and is impervious to moisture, making it perfect for ground contact applications. For roofline applications where moisture resistance is also key, products such as Signature Stain created by Tando has the rich look of stained wood shake without the need to ever apply stain. Tando products make these looks so much easier to achieve, because there’s no mortar and no mess for the stone with lightweight, quick installation and just regular woodworking tools for the shakes. These products can often be installed by one person.

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Q: From your experience launching and building brands, what advice do you have for dealers who want to set their companies apart from competitors?
A: Having been involved in launching alternative decking and trim in the past 20 years, we encourage dealers to get in at the ground floor with new technologies that have a real value proposition for the exterior of the home or structure. For exterior cladding, products that feature moisture-resistance, realism, aesthetics and ease of installation keep contractors and builders coming back for more.

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Q: What should dealers watch for from Derby Building Products, and its professional Tando brands, in 2018 and beyond?
A: We have assembled an all-star team at Derby and will be launching new LBM-friendly products in 2018, such as new colors of Tando’s Beach House Shake, which is indistinguishable from the classic shakes you see at the beach. Complete with dark crisp keyways, no repeatable pattern, and a texture so real you will want to touch it—every shake is unique. A new line known as the Signature Stain Shake Collection created by Tando will debut at the 2018 International Builders Show and features a proprietary manufacturing process that utilizes a real semi-transparent wood stain on the shake to ensure the look is identical to actual stained wood shakes. The perfect answer to the market demand for mixed material exteriors, Signature Stain Shake is impervious to moisture, so it’s ideal for gables and dormers right up to the roof line. It also has an unmatched 50-year performance warranty and three colors taken from nature: Fawn, Bark and Acorn.

Additionally, we will be reinventing how consumers and dealers select textures and colors as we launch a revolutionary new sample process we are calling Tando HD (Home Definition) Samples. The perfect collaboration tool for contractors and their customers, the high-definition realism of these samples will greatly help in product and color selection.

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