I love hardware stores. All the little bins full of nuts and bolts and nails, the crusty old guy behind the counter, even the smell. I can spend hours wandering the aisles, buying tools I don't really need and stuff for projects that may never come to fruition. But like everything else, that has changed—a true hardware store is difficult to find these days. They seem to have evolved into half hardware/half kitchen & bath stores or into the mega stores. Certainly the big home improvement stores have some advantages, but personal attention and construction knowledge are not their strong points.

One place where you can still often find that personal touch, though, is in the professional construction supply houses. Many of these remain stand-alone, family-owned operations that are almost as important a part of your construction team as your ready-mix supplier. They know trowels and forms and rebar, and can help you find the best product for your job. In fact, many times your choice of products may be based on their recommendation.

But nothing in this business stays the same. Many of the little construction supply houses are getting bought out—and even some of the big ones. With Home Depot's acquisition of White Cap, the small but knowledgeable construction supply house could go the way of the little local hardware store. When the big commercial supply houses can provide you with products cheaper and faster, it will be hard to stick with the little guys.

In the meantime, though, there are lots of great construction suppliers out there, and we would like to recognize them. An article in the July issue of Concrete Construction will look at the important relationship between concrete contractors and the companies that supply them with both information and products for their jobs. Tell us what company you think is the best construction supplier in America. Here's the information we will need:

  • The construction supplier's name
  • A contact person
  • Address and phone number
  • What makes this company so great?
  • How does this company help you?

Send your recommendation by email to senior editor Joe Nasvik at jnasvik@hanleywood.com or by fax to 630-543-3112. You can call Joe toll-free at 800-837-0870 x2602.

And, speaking of the best, we are currently compiling our list of the top 100 concrete contractors in America, the CC100. If you haven't entered your company in the past, consider it this year. And don't think that your company is too small—we are planning several specialty lists (such as decorative and residential) that will include smaller contractors. To get a survey form, contact Colette Palait at cpalait@hanleywood.com, 800-837-0870 x2621. If you have questions, call me at 303-823-8284.

Editor in Chief