CEOs, left to right: Mitch Lewis, of BlueLinx, Manny Pina of National Lumber, Peter Alexander of BMC, and Ted Galbraith of Foxworth-Galbraith 
CEOs, left to right: Mitch Lewis, of BlueLinx, Manny Pina of National Lumber, Peter Alexander of BMC, and Ted Galbraith of Foxworth-Galbraith 

It's safe to say this year's ProSales 100 conference was a big success. So, what did we learn? Here are five takeaways you can apply to your business:

1. Housing demand is high, but labor is short

According to an economic forecast led by Metrostudy's national sales manager, Toby Morrison, job growth, a key factor in determining housing demand, is at its highest levels since 2006. Likewise, consumer confidence is up 30% since the beginning of last year. In 2015, Morrison estimates we should see 1,101,000 starts, 504,000 new home sales, and 10,958,868 remodels.

But Morrison added that 55% of builders in the U.S. reported labor shortages. Additionally, more than three quarters of surveyed builders reported they had the "most trouble" hiring framers.

2. You should learn to delegate tasks.

During the "Success on Purpose" session moderated by PROSALES columnist Rick Davis, Adam Olson, an outside sales rep with Lampert Yards, put it this way: "When's the last time you went to McDonald's and Ronald took your order?" In other words, learn to delegate your tasks. Doing everything could waste your time.

3. Speaking other languages is a must.

The 2015 ProSales/KOMA Four Under 40 class had plenty to say about technology, hiring, and the next generation of LBM during its "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" panel led by PROSALES assistant editor Tim Regan. But perhaps the most interesting tidbit they revealed revolves around language and culture. Jaime Villanueva, store manager of TW Perry in Gaithersburg, Md., said his store has a clear advantage over competitors by having a staff capable of speaking Spanish to customers and employees. And Margaret Price, owner and president of Ridgefield Supply in Ridgefield, Conn., says she's focused on integrating Polish-speaking employees into her company to cater to the local community. Though the languages spoken in your area might vary, their advice is singular: Find out which languages your customers or potential hires speak, and speak or hire someone who speaks that language.

4. Forget the oil boom. Think shale.

For years, plenty of housing markets across the U.S. have thrived on the rising price of oil. Could that change? Metrostudy's Toby Morrison says yes, it could. Shale development, also known as fracking, could create as many as four million new jobs in the U.S. by 2025, according to Morrison. That boom could add up to $500 billion to national GDP, and bolster housing markets in parts of Texas, the upper Northeast, and the Great Plains, all of which have robust fracking industries.

Photo courtesy of The Farnsworth Group
Photo courtesy of The Farnsworth Group

5. Half of all pros buy home improvement and building supplies online.

Think you can't build a house with materials you buy online? Think again. During "Digital Destroyers? Online Suppliers Speak," a panel made up of Nathan Derrick, founder of and Jon Goldfarb, president of, we learned that pros are increasingly flocking to online orders. And a chart from The Farnsworth Group says that pros (defined as homebuilders, general contractors, residential remodelers, architects, and specialty tradesmen) purchase home improvement and building materials online at least once a month.

What did you think? See anything at the conference you can apply to your business? Comment below and let us know.