Promises, Promises

"Making Good Your Promissory Notes" (Sell Sheet, September 2007) is right on the mark. Managing our outside sales force (we use the term account managers) to understand the global impact that overcommitment can cause is continual training that needs to be revisited regularly.

I have discovered that account managers–very seasoned ones and rookies–revert back to bad habits, like overpromising deliveries and special products, which often leave a trail of chaos within the organization. You offered some insightful suggests on how an account manager might better deal with a situation when faced with an unusual or special request. I particularly liked asking: is this a real request or a mere hope? Account mangers, I have found, do not fully weight (or understand) the risk reward of getting a special-order product for a customer. He or she usually overvalues the upside of getting a special order.

–Jeff Bennett, general manager and vice president, A.H. Bennett Co., Minneapolis

Don't Be Cute

While the point you were trying to make about the historical role of wood products in LBM dealers thinking is probably accurate, (Editor's Notes, "The Weight of Wood," July) the comment made that objection to a green standard (obviously LEED) because it is "anti-wood" is driven by "history" shows to me a total lack of understanding about the bias against wood in the LEED certification scheme, and why it should be objected to whether one sells wood or not.

All of us selling LBM products should be concerned about green-rating systems that are simply inconsistent with common sense, not scientifically defensible, and penalize one of the most readily available, versatile, and renewable building materials clearly due to the prejudice against cutting wood of those involved in writing the standard. You should be aware of the role of the Natural Resources Defense Council in the U. S. Green Building Council.

Here are a couple of examples: only wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council is eligible. FSC-certified Southern Pine lumber is not readily (if at all) available; this rules out a region supplying 40% of the lumber produced in the U. S. (Natural Resource Defense Council is a member of the board of FSC-US) "Short rotation" renewable products (read: bamboo) are favored over wood grown on longer rotation cycles.

No green standard is going to please everyone, but I would bet there are more of your readers that sell lumber and are concerned than do not. You might try to educate them instead of writing a cute story about the romantic role of timbering in their psyche.

–Buddy Klumb, owner, Klumb Lumber Co., Fairhope, Ala,

Good, Better, Best

Regarding your Editor's Notes, "Great Expectations," (September) I preach often to our troops that we need to perform better today than we did yesterday, and tomorrow we need to do better than we are doing today. The bar constantly rises, and we are measured against all companies providing a service, not just our direct competitors.

Interestingly, we have learned that each micromarket has different service expectations. Some communities' general attitude is very relaxed, and other communities are more demanding. ...It is reflected in the service levels of many of the businesses in the immediate market. We all need to try to be the leader in expectations of higher service levels provided to the customer. Besides measuring our performance against direct competition and other local service providers, we need to measure ourselves globally against the best, the L.L. Beans of the world.

–Sam W. Collins, president S.W. Collins Co., Caribou, Maine


Lumber Association of Calif. and Nev. Annual Convention / Nov. 1-3 / Monterey, Calif. / Contact: 916.369.7501; ?North American Building Material Distribution Association Annual Convention Business Session / Nov. 3-4 / Colorado Springs, Colo. / Contact: 888.747.7862; ?STAFDA Convention / Nov. 4-6 / Nashville, Tenn. / Contact: 800.352.2981; ?Greenbuild / Nov. 7-9 / Chicago / Contact U.S. Green Building Council: 202.742.3818; ?Western Building Material Association Annual Convention / Nov. 7-9 / Portland, Ore. / Contact: 360.943.3054; ?Lumbermens Merchandising Corp. Forest Products Meeting / Nov. 8-9 / Philadelphia / Contact: 610.293.7000; ?NAWLA Trader's Market / Nov. 15-17 / Dallas / Contact: 800.527.8258; ?True Value Rental Market / Jan. 6-8, 2008 / Orlando, Fla. / Contact: 773.695.5000;

Speak Out!

Send your comments to editor Craig Webb: or One Thomas Circle, N.W., Suite 600 Washington, D.C. 20005. (Letters may be edited for clarity and space.)