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What Pros Want in 2022: Insights From a Building Materials Industry Panel

Every year, Venveo partners with The Farnsworth Group to survey pros, builders, architects and DIYers on how they research, specify and purchase building materials products. This week, we’re sharing insights from the pro panel we held during the 2022 Building Products Customer Guide event.

Photo of Zach Williams
Photo of Beth PopNikolov
by Zach Williams and Beth PopNikolov

More About This Episode

The Smarter Building Materials Marketing podcast helps industry professionals find better ways to grow leads, sales and outperform the competition. It’s designed to give insights on how to create a results-driven digital marketing strategy for companies of any size.

Anytime we get to talk with other building materials industry pros and experts, it’s a fun time. Here are a few key clips, along with some of the best insights straight from the pros.

What Today’s Building Materials Companies Need You to Know

During the 2022 Building Products Consumer Guide event, we wanted to give our attendees something special. The industry has changed so much, even in the last year, and it’s been a challenge to navigate. So we brought on a professional builder, remodeler and an expert who knows exactly what architects want to hear directly from the horse's mouth — and talk about steps forward.

Mark Mitchell, known in the industry as “the Whizard,” moderated the panel of professionals, and we were thrilled to have his experience and expertise at the event once again.

Mark asked David Weber, the CEO of Architizer, how he and other pros are handling the product availability issues in construction today. “I'm thinking about sourcing, not from all the ridiculous price increases we're seeing, but from just simply where can I get things?” Mark asks. “Have you seen things or heard things from architects about how they're dealing with this?"

“I think it's a really big challenge that makes construction and the specifying process, in general, a lot more complicated,” David explains. “I think that architects and designers, builders, everyone throughout the entire process, everyone's trying to be resourceful and come up with the best possible design solution.”

But he points out that “the industry's never really confronted this sort of complexity and this extra challenge, this extra constraint as it were on ‘How do we get things built?’ And I think it's really stretching architects. I think a lot of architects, I'm not quite sure what the stat is, but I think quite often, it's 65% to 80% of their specs are copied from previous projects.”

When those once-reliable products aren’t available, architects have to find alternatives. David addresses this hurdle and how manufacturers can help with this challenge.

“I think a lot of architects are really scrambling. They're looking for good advice, wherever they can find it online, from the subs, from the GC, even from the owners at some point,” says David.

Having that kind of information (and products) could help architects in a multitude of ways on a project, especially with making decisions. “I think everyone is really working hard to try and find, not even the best product or the cheapest product, but just something they can get to keep things moving,” he continues.

“Because having your 200-unit condo tower held up an extra month? The carrying cost of that is immense, way more than just one or two change orders if that's your bottleneck. So yeah, it's just a whole new level of complexity to project management,” David explains.

How to Work Better With Today’s Pros

Something we learned during the pandemic was that architects, contractors and builders will actually try new brands and products, especially when they’re forced to do so. The lack of supplies and materials has led to some innovation on the job site because contractors might have to find alternative materials to work with. Mark Mitchell chatted with remodeler Bill Owens, from Owens Construction, about these challenges and how they’ve changed builders’ mindsets.

“Builders have a reputation for being a laggard industry, not moving along very quickly with new processes and new technologies,” says Bill. “But when your daily income is being jeopardized by the inability to move projects forward — because there was an endless supply of wood two by fours, and all of a sudden there's a supply of two by fours, but there are three to four times what they cost — we tend to turn in and hang up our laggard belt and try to figure out ways to do things differently in order to adapt.”

And builders have had to adapt quite a bit in the last few years. “We built with wood prior to COVID. We went into the steel business when wood escalated, and it went so high. Now, steel is at three times what it was 15, 18 months ago — and now, we're back to building with wood because we've seen some relaxation in the random lengths prices on dimensional lumber,” Bill says.

“So my thinking is that when you're facing a shortage of something or significant price increases, that you are open to not just alternative sources of supply, but alternative ways of doing things,” suggests Mark Mitchell.

“Oh absolutely, yeah. We've had to,” says Bill.

Navigating Strained Relationships

Builders and other professionals in the industry have had to adapt, and Mark Mitchell brought up how much this strains some of our peers in construction, especially with the continuing issue of labor shortage. Bill chimed in with his own experience.

“I just talked with a fellow who was building a house today up here in Flagstaff and his normal crew — a drywall crew of 10 — is now reduced down to two,” says Bill. “We're in the same predicament. We were trying to hire really at all skill levels within our company well before the pandemic.”

If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the last few years, it’s that there will be a continued demand for the construction industry and continued supply chain issues — at least over the next 18 months. “That puts a lot of strain on relationships, a lot of strain on project timelines and strain all the way down the channel of relationships, not only between contractor, builder and manufacturer but also between the end-user,” explains Beth.

When relationships are strained across the supply chain in this way, there’s really only one sure-fire solution: communication and transparency.

“Communication would be very helpful,” says builder Matt Johnson, from Johnson Building Inc. “Just be honest and upfront. I know that they really have no idea when the stuff is coming, and I understand the issue … if they could prepare us as much or when they see it coming that, ‘Hey, we're about to run out of these.’”

Want Even More Insight?

There are a few ways manufacturers can build better communication into their marketing and communication strategies — and a solid digital presence is a great place to start.

If you want professional tips and actionable steps from industry and marketing experts, be sure to get the full 2022 Building Products Customer Guide and event recordings.

Included is a detailed data report with key takeaways and marketing strategies to help you improve your audience targeting and generate the most conversions from your marketing this year and beyond.

Plus, you'll get the recordings from the two-day event, including the full BPCG panel as well as all the sessions and presentation slides from the guest speakers.