It has taken awhile for Boise Building Solutions' Build-Rite suite of services to clear the quarantine that causes programs viewed by pro dealers as “builder direct” to sit on the shelf and collect dust. Although formally introduced at the 2005 International Builders' Show (IBS), the production builder–friendly whole-house design and engineering service has been in development with planning and beta-testing since 2003. At IBS, Boise engineered wood products sales and marketing manager Denny Huston predicted that Build-Rite would be an important tool for large builders in the years to come, claiming that Build-Rite “enables any production builder to literally remove all of the waste in a plan and, unbelievably, save between $500 and $5,000 in building costs for [each home] built.”
That kind of savings is earning Boise face time with cost-conscious and cycle-minded big builders, and Boise's marketing efforts are not going unnoticed by its pro dealer distribution network. “Boise is my primary EWP supplier, and there was no secret that they were initiating contact with builders on a national level,” says Pat Sherwood, an EWP sales manager for 84 Lumber in Charleston, S.C. “As long as that business comes back to me, I'm perfectly fine with it, and we've been going full-swing with the program for [four of the top 10 big builders].”
At its core, Build-Rite is powered by Boise-developed software that renders 3-D engineering designs for a home from the blueprints, including squaring diagrams for foundations of slabs and plates for each floor; schematics that provide exact dimensions and placements of all required lumber; sheathing diagrams; total surface area calculations for all interior and exterior walls, floors, roofs, and ceilings; and all lineal measurements for soffit, fascia, gutter, flashings, ridge cap, interior molding, and exterior trim. The program also outputs a complete materials list and a quantitative analysis detailing the cost savings realized by the Build-Rite system in reducing unnecessary material and jobsite waste.
The resulting schematics are used in a collaborative effort between vendor, dealer, and builder design and logistics teams to maximize efficiency during the construction process by simplifying materials lists, streamlining construction processes, and minimizing waste. “It's amazing, especially on the production side where it was thought that every last penny had been squeezed out of the job, to see the savings that Build-Rite can generate with house plans that have been around for some time,” says Build-Rite Services manager Michael Carver.
Of course, it takes more than just another whole-house software package to get pro dealers to green-light a project that had an initial marketing push directly to the big builder. Many a national supply deal has foundered when it comes to local buy-in and logistics, and the Build-Rite team admits that it faced the same hurdles. “There's no question, [the concept of] channel conflict has been one of the issues that we have had to deal with,” Huston says. “But we have more and more dealers and distributors climbing on board now, and we are starting to see and hear a lot of success stories throughout our distribution network.”
Full Channel Results One of the reasons dealers have been more eager to jump on the Build-Rite bandwagon is labor control. In all cases, Boise puts personnel on the jobsite to describe design schematics and assist in establishing consistency in the construction process from home to home. “They don't just say they'll save you XYZ, they say, ‘We'll prove it to you,'” attests Dan Crowley, an EWP sales manager for 84 Lumber in Charlotte, N.C. “Through the implementation process, they take on the builder's labor force—masons, framers, HVAC contractors—and teach them how to follow the Build-Rite schematics before the builder ever has to make a commitment to the program.”
Indeed, Boise pitches the builder with a “try it—you'll like it” offer, with no commitment—financial or otherwise—necessary on the contractor end until the first job proves to eliminate waste and generate a cost savings. That's bringing in some increased pull-through big builder business to smaller dealers that might not have had a crack at full-scale production jobs. “[Oswego, Ore.–based] Renaissance homes called us and invited us up to their office one day where we sat around a table with [our] Boise rep Nate Copper and they presented the program to us,” says Josh Lunceford, an inside sales manager for three-unit, Milwaukie, Ore.–based Milwaukie Lumber. “We had not even heard about Build-Rite until then.”
For Lunceford, the Build-Rite opportunity was also unique in that Milwaukie is not even a stocking dealer of Boise EWP. “We have such a large yard and so much material coming in and out, it's easier to have Boise inventory the wood,” he says. “They truck it down from Vancouver [Wash.] to our yard next-day delivery, and it hits the jobsite.” That caused a few hiccups in the beginning, but Lunceford says virtually all of the logistics problems have been quickly ironed out.
But clearly the most compelling argument for dealers has been the bottom-line success enjoyed from the big builder EWP sales they have garnered by participating in the Build-Rite program. “We've been using Build-Rite for 18 months,” explains Crowley, who adds that he is using the program as a lead-off during sales calls and has yet to be turned down. “The first year we did $3.2 million in EWP sales, and by this fall we should be annualizing sales at about $7 million, and Build-Rite is a big part of that. It has definitely brought business to the table for us and allowed us to steal market share.”
In spite of the builder-direct marketing push, Boise is also intent on making Build-Rite a full channel partnership. “Build-Rite can make the dealer/builder relationship a more consultative one, where the dealer contributes to a more successful project for the builder and takes the price issue off the table,” Carver says, adding that finite materials lists produced by the system also ensure more efficient logistics from product inventory to jobsite delivery.