Business improvements through the use of technology require that a small group of pioneers get out in front and begin using a technology to determine—and exploit—its true potential. Those that follow learn from the successes, and mistakes, of these leaders. While the dot-com bust in the early part of this decade proved the peril inherent in moving too aggressively into new technologies, especially without solid business plans to back up such moves, it didn't change the need for some companies to take the lead. In the LBM industry specifically, forward thinkers are shooting for new tech horizons by focusing on customer-centric information technology (IT) strategies that expand their value-added services and improve their profitability.
Then we'll go behind the scenes at Standale Lumber in Grand Rapids, Mich., the first company in the lumber and building materials arena to adopt an emerging technology that should make it easier and faster for its customers' customers—new-home buyers—to select materials for their projects. While it's still in the early stages of implementation, the company believes this Web-based application from technology provider Home Ensemble could translate into a sustainable advantage over competitors by integrating more of the supply chain.