Truitt & White Lumber's Web site gives builders a lot of information without trying too hard to seem impressive. And that makes it impressive. Packed with housing products, industry information, event dates, and more, the site's layout keeps things easily accessible.

Before the site began in 2006, the Berkeley, Calif., dealer's marketing heads recognized they would need outside help to build it. Debbi Langeliers from Polaris, a marketing and branding company, took on the project. With a background in the wood industry, she knew the site would need a simple setup. "This site has so much on it, if you put in flash [software for graphics], it would be slow," she says. "You have to be aware of some of the limits of your users. If I was sitting on a dialup [connection] somewhere, which is what some of these contractors use, it would take forever."

Truitt held focus groups in which it questioned key clients on potential versions of the Web site and on how they used the Internet. This led to a recent addition, the customizable Builder's Page, which includes lists of new products and upcoming events. A calendar also lists seminars, and users can register online to attend.

"We offer so many services" to our customers, says Judi Ettlinger, Truitt's marketing director. "We wanted to make sure [the site] communicated everything we had."

The site also has industry news and information on green-building products. "We want our company to be a desktop for our builder's business," says Mark Pearsall, Truitt's vice president of sales and marketing. "We want them to look to us for industry support."

The dealer also uses the site to keep information moving throughout the company. An internal calendar lets managers schedule work and list which employees are in each day. This eliminates confusion when customers call looking for specific people. In addition, employees use the site to see new products.

"It's pretty hard to keep our information flowing to sales and support staffs," Pearsall says. "Now, they can go to our system and look at what's new, where it is, and why we have it."

BuilderLink, which gives customers real-time access to an inventory of products, was recently added to the site. It will cost registered customers $250 a year, but "I think it is something that will grow," Ettlinger says.

Also on the horizon are improvements to the home page. Most important, Pearsall wants to ensure the site stands out from competition.

"This is the thing that goes beyond just listing new products," Pearsall says. "We can demonstrate to our manufacturers and the professional community that we are successful."

Vital Statistics

  • Company: Truitt & White Lumber Co.
  • Year Founded: 1946
  • Headquarters: Berkeley, Calif.
  • Number of Locations: 1
  • Number of Employees: 95
  • 2006 Gross Sales: Company wouldn't disclose
  • Percentage of Sales to Pros: 80%