Steve Niedorf

Dave Klun has seen life from both sides of the counter. Originally a remodeler, he eventually moved into LBM sales, where he helped start remodeler-specific divisions at both Brooklyn Park, Minn.-based Scherer Brothers Lumber and Minneapolis-based Fullerton Companies. Currently back in the remodeling industry, Klun also does consulting on increasing sales and building up business. Here are excerpts from his conversation with ProSales’ Brendan Rimetz.

A young contractor and an older contractor show up at a jobsite and prepare to take measurements for a roofing job. The older contractor takes out his pad and pencil and goes to work calculating the roof’s pitch by hand. The young contractor pulls out his mobile phone, sets it on the roof and calculates the pitch—within seconds—using a special mobile application. The older contractor can’t believe it and goes about finishing his calculations, mumbling that an app could never be as exact as calculations by hand. But he finds the app to be just as accurate when all is said and done. It almost knocks the older contractor over.

I love this story. The key thing here is knowledge and information. The ability to find information is power. The younger generation’s understanding of the power of the Internet, plus the fact that it’s so intertwined in their lives, means they can get lots of information in a quick and easy manner. This ability to get information is leading to a knowledge gap between the young and old.

This chart originally appeared in Remodeling magazine.

The main reason behind this knowledge gap is technology, as these younger contractors are much more connected than their predecessors. They’re OK with suppliers texting and e-mailing them; they will just text and e-mail back. In fact, these younger contractors almost expect their suppliers to be as connected as they are. Shame on building material suppliers for not recognizing this.

At the same time, however, many in the older generation don’t trust younger remodelers and builders and how quickly they can find information. It has to do with the amount of egos in the construction industry, especially with remodelers. While older contractors are needed, they are only helpful if they let their egos go down and help their younger colleagues. These younger contractors in turn have to respect what those of the older generations have to say.

It is imperative to realize that these younger contractors are also not sticking with the traditional ways that earlier generations did things. They are putting more emphasis on the business and marketing aspect of running a remodeling or home building company. They spend less time in the lumberyard and more time interacting with customers, meaning dealers must work to accommodate those changes, too.

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