Are the local construction supply houses that you’ve used for many years going the way that little mom-and-pop stores have gone in retail sales? That is, overpowered by the big boxes? I spoke recently to the folks at Home Depot and learned that they are doing some very creative things to get the business of professional contractors. They have greatly improved the pro desk and services for contractors and realize that with pros, relationship is everything. But wait! White Cap (which, by the way, is no longer owned by Home Depot), is improving its service to the concrete industry with an extensive concrete training program for the desk personnel. And also, some of the bigger regional supply houses are expanding and improving. A.H. Harris on the east coast has bought Barker Steel, and McCann in the Chicago area has fine tuned its delivery expertise. There’s a battle going on for your business and with the buying power the large companies bring to the market, you might want to meet with them to see what they can do for you.

Drug- and alcohol-free sites

Safety is critical to success in today’s construction industry. One approach, taken by five of the nation’s largest construction trade associations (including AGC, ABC, and CURT) is to create a drug- and alcohol-free construction industry by providing companies and organizations with the resources necessary to build this into their business practices. The Construction Coalition for a Drug- and Alcohol-Free Workplace (CCDAFW) is urging construction-related firms to sign an online pledge that they will build a substance-abuse-free workplace. Check it out at


Over the past month I’ve been to several presentations by equipment manufacturers. Generally it’s pretty easy to distinguish between those that are true believers and those that are just giving a presentation because it’s their job. Husqvarna, for example, brought in its entire technical sales staff to demonstrate saws, grinders, and its new robotic demolition machine—these guys really know their stuff and are convinced that it is the best. Stanley Black & Decker (which includes DeWalt) likewise put on a good presentation of its lines, even bringing one sales manager all the way from Israel.