Consider the bar code: It may look simple, but behind it lies a required precision that, when improperly executed, makes the whole buying process go awry. Just think of the times you've seen a checkout clerk play with the scanner gun, trying to read the bar code on that jar of pickles.

When choosing good suppliers, buyers at construction supply companies share many of the same goals as the folks who developed the bar codes. We spoke to buyers from Maine to California, at operations big and small, and found they gave remarkably consistent messages.

They're looking for companies that are consistent, trustworthy, and reliable. They want vendor and distributor reps who know their stuff, don't waste the buyer's time, and who aim to help the buyer's company succeed.

Sure, product quality matters, and they've noticed some cases recently in which quality has deteriorated. But for the most part, they say that what vendors produce is worth putting on their shelves. It's the service stuff that frustrates them the most. Keep reading to learn more, delivered in their own words.

  • Hank Bockus
    Vice President and Buyer / Gordon White Lumber / Oklahoma City
  • John Daingerfield
    Buyer / Jaeger Lumber / Union, N.J.
  • Phil Becker
    Purchasing Manager / Rufus Deering Lumber / Portland, Maine
  • Kevin Stoots
    Director of Purchasing / Gordon Lumber / Fremont, Ohio
  • Hela Pela
    Buyer / Bruce Bauer Lumber & Supply / Mountain View, Calif.
  • Rob Jolliff
    Commodity Buyer and Inventory Manager / Bender Lumber / Bloomington, Ind.
  • Mitja Peterman
    Owner / AL&M Do it Best Building Supplies / Sealy and Columbus, Texas
  • Bev Hendrickson
    Purchasing Manager / Crane Johnson Lumber / Fargo, N.D.
  • Ezra Maust
    Commodity Buyer / Peoples Supply / Hyattsville, Md.
  • Merritt Goodyear
    Vice President / Trinity Lumber and Building Supply / Weaverville, Calif.