In early 2004, sister companies Stock Building Supply and Ferguson Enterprises, both owned by England-based Wolseley and headquartered in the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina, entered into a partnership designed to leverage the suppliers' complementary product lines into a single Carrboro, N.C., showroom for customers and their homeowner-clients.
Combining some of Stock's product lines, which include windows, doors, cabinets, counter-tops, flooring, stairs and stair parts, hardware, siding, roofing, garage doors, decking, mantels, and molding with Ferguson's product offerings of tubs, showers, faucets, fixtures, sinks, toilets, lighting, appliances, and fireplaces under one roof created a one-stop solution builders, remodelers, architects, and designers can send their customers to while developing a relationship with one company rather than several.
Stock and Ferguson's product lines are displayed throughout the showroom in room vignettes, allowing customers to better visualize how the products will look next to each other in their own homes. No detail is left out, with patio doors installed on decks that show off outdoor grills, fireplaces installed with mantels and moldings, and windows and doors set into fully trimmed interior and exterior walls. A working kitchen on site is used for cooking demonstrations, which the design center hosts eight or nine times during the year. For each demonstration, the companies invite local members of trade groups, such as the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, the HBA, the National Association of Realtors, or the American Society of Interior Designers. “The customers get the opportunity to see the appliances as they work in the context of a kitchen as opposed to [just] being [in] displays,” says Gary Burns, Stock's national remodel and repair manager. “We try to utilize and show off all the unique features and benefits of the appliances.”
While customers and homeowners are benefiting, the two dealers also have reaped rewards from the partnership. Because the companies' product lines do not overlap, customers looking for Stock's products also are exposed to all the products that Ferguson offers and vice versa. “We've shared resources, customer bases, relationships,” says Craig Lynch, the Carrboro location manager. “It has resulted in increased sales and overall organic growth for our company.”
Blending the two companies' cultures, operating procedures, and staffs was not easy, but the lessons learned from this first partnership will be applied to future joint showrooms across the country. The second of these recently opened in Santa Barbara, Calif.