Wolf’s Big Bet
Wolf was the subject of a nice article recently in the York Daily Record, one of Pennsylvania’s leading daily newspapers. The article’s author, Lauren Boyer used the roll-out of Wolf’s new line of kitchen cabinets to illustrate its new strategy as a sourcing company. She also noted that Wolf will exclusively build this new strategy around the independent building materials dealer.
In a related blog posting, the editor of the York Daily Record, Jim McClure expanded on this theme applauding Wolf for its dedication to the independent dealer. He suggested that the strategy was a smart one because it was consistent with prevailing consumer sentiment. “Americans,” he suggested, “are tiring of browsing for kitchen cabinets and other home furnishings at impersonal big boxes,” and Wolf was therefore smart to build on this growing consumer search for shopping fulfillment in smaller and more local retail establishments.
Jim’s right, Americans are increasingly tired of shopping in impersonal big boxes. But I believe it is their persistent search for real value – not a nostalgic search for a good shopping experience – that will ultimately win the day for independent building materials dealers. That’s because when it comes to big project remodeling projects – projects like new kitchens, decks, or additions – consumers will consistently find the best advice, the best products and the best prices at those independent dealers. In other words, that’s where they’ll find the best value.
In fact, independent dealers can out-compete anybody when it comes to value. This stems in part from the key role they play in the most efficient supply chain in the building products universe. They have low overheads, low occupancy costs and even lower advertising and marketing costs. They also serve their customers incredibly well. They have experienced employees who know their customers, understand building products and who have far more than a passing familiarity with the construction business. Independent dealers also buy right. They manage their vendor relationships tightly, but they treat those vendors fairly, so that when it comes to big project building products, they know how to get the right products at great prices.
In sum, independent dealers offer a very compelling value proposition to big project remodeling customers – both professionals and do-it-yourselfers. The York Daily Record’s Jim McClure is absolutely right in suggesting that independent dealers are natural fits for anyone wanting to buy local; but that’s not what makes them great. They are great because of their high quality products, their competitive prices and their knowledgeable employees especially when it comes to big project products. These are the things that make the independent dealers’ value proposition so compelling. And that value proposition will continue to make the serious do-it-yourselfer or professional remodeler want to be a customer. It’s also the value proposition that will continue to make Wolf want to be a vendor.
About Tom Wolf
Tom is a sixth generation owner and pioneer. With degrees from Dartmouth, MIT and the University of London, plus more than 30 years in the building materials business, you’ll find Tom’s insightful, eclectic viewpoints to be both stimulating and entertaining.