The construction sector often takes heat for being slow to mobilize online. But a new start-up is looking to challenge that position by getting builders and their suppliers to exchange excess goods, promote specials, and post jobs on the Web.
“The building industry has to get up to speed to survive and keep on the edge of [technology],” says Carolynn Brescka, a former homebuilder in the southeastern U.S. and building-products sales rep who since 2010 has been at the helm of the four-person team behind online sales and distribution platform Builder Flash Marketplace. “That’s what we want to be for the supply industry—the stepping stone into tech.”
The website functions like Craigslist, Brescka says, although she hopes its construction-only focus will serve as the blueprint for an industry hub. Since its Beta launch in 2010 the website has registered 9,200 builder and contractor members and 107 suppliers. A partnership announced earlier this month with the Building Products Retailers Alliance, whose members include the Southern Building Material Association, the Construction Suppliers Association, and the Western Building Material Association, pushed the platform fully into the supply-side marketplace sans financial backing.
“Everyone wanted it, everyone needed it, everyone thought it was a great idea,” she says. Now it’s up to members to decide how they’ll incorporate the alternative sales and distribution channel into their buying and selling strategies. “We will only be successful if our contractors and suppliers are successful on the site,” she says. “It has to go both ways.”
The site is free to use and is off-limits to manufacturers. Members can post supplies, equipment, and services for sale without charge with postings listed for 45 days. Members pay $40 to post any number of land or home sales for 60 days and pay $10 to post an event listing for 30 days. Members can pay the seller directly or, for some items, fill out a purchase order. Brescka says the job-board feature will launch in March.