It seems like every other day a vendor rep is knocking on my door to promote the company's lines of composite or PVC decking and handrail systems. Yet many times these unexpected, spur-of-the-moment requests to meet don't give the product offering the time it deserves.

Cold calling may be common in this industry, but it's not the best tactic when trying to promote a new product to the marketplace. Instead, vendor reps should take the time to schedule meetings with whomever it is they're planning on pitching.

Many companies produce composite decking and it seems the list is growing by the day. Building magazines routinely show advertisements from a number of composite manufacturers. But when you’re a retail lumber dealer, it’s getting more and more challenging to determine what line of composite decking or PVC decking to stock. When you bring it in, it’s always the one the customer wants that you don’t have. Fortunately, our sales team has a pretty good feel of what our customers prefer and, like most dealers, try to concentrate our efforts based on this. When the builder picks out decking that we don’t have, we'll look to our list of wholesalers who are likely to have it.

Handrail systems are a slightly different story. We don’t stock any handrail inventory, and I would guess that most other retail dealers also don't. Yet, I kid you not, over the last three months we have been introduced to no fewer than five different handrail companies, and the knocks continue at the door. The hallways at our sales office are filled with little handrail samples, and if you’re a retail dealer, I bet yours are too.

There are many great manufacturers to choose from and we applaud the wholesalers on their investments and dedication to these products. As a retail dealer, we will do our best to support you. But meeting at an agreed-upon time is the best way to get a foot (or line of composite decking) in our door.

George M. Fishtorn II is the general manager at Kimal Lumber & Hardware in Nokomis, Fla., and the current chair of the Florida Building Material Association.