What to See at the 2024 International Builders’ Show

What to See at the 2024 International Builders’ Show

The 2024 International Builders’ Show is just a few weeks away—is your schedule ready? The show returns to Las Vegas, Feb. 27-29, and once again will co-exhibit with the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show as part of Design & Construction Week.

With three halls of exhibits, dozens upon dozens of education sessions, and a host of demos and special events, there’s plenty to see and do throughout the week. Take a look at some of our picks and previews for IBS to help you get organized.

Education Sessions at the 2024 International Builders’ Show

This year’s show features several types of education opportunities, including Super Sessions, fast-paced Learning Labs, daily Game Changer keynotes, and 60-minute Building Knowledge Sessions.

Here are a few that caught our eye:

Navigating Generational Differences: How Today’s Leaders Can Attract Tomorrow’s Talent (Building Knowledge Session)
Tues., Feb. 27, 8:30-9:30 a.m.

Punch List: 2024 Design & Product Trends (Learning Lab)
Tues., Feb. 27, 10:15-11:15 a.m.

A Simple Project Management Formula for Better Service, Cycle Times & Profitability (Building Knowledge Session)
Tues., Feb. 27, 10:15-11:15 a.m.

The Outlook: Housing Trends, Forecasts & Insights for 2024 (Super Session)
Tues., Feb. 27, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Avoiding Profit-Killing Callbacks & Poor Performing Homes (Building Knowledge Session)
Weds., Feb. 28, 10:15-11:15 a.m.

A New Estimating Strategy for Greater Remodeling Profit & Resilience (Building Knowledge Session)
Weds., Feb. 28, 10:15-11:15 a.m.

Emerging Trends & Forecasts for Building Materials (Building Knowledge Session)
Weds., Feb. 28, 12:15-1:15 p.m.

20 Elevation Styles to Have on Your Radar for 2024 (Building Knowledge Session)
Weds., Feb. 28, 2-3 p.m.

Outside, Inside & In-Between: 2024’s Top Trends & Design Practices (Building Knowledge Session)
Thurs., Feb. 29, 10:15-11:15 a.m.

High-performance zone at the International Builders' Show
Photo: Nick Hagen Photography

Real-Time Experiences at the 2024 International Builders’ Show

See the latest trends and products in person through these at-show opportunities:

ProTradeCraft LIVE Stage at Pro Builder Show Village

ProTradeCraft’s Jobsite Training Portal comes to life across three stages. Be sure to check out live demos of our Tapco Tools brakes hosted by siding professionals!

Pro Builder Show Village

See the latest innovations, products, and design trends across a neighborhood of demonstration homes at the Pro Builder Show Village in the Silver Lot exterior exhibits. Along with home tours, check out live demonstrations, skills challenges, block parties, and more.

Craft Techniques Zone, West Hall, W3643

A variety of 30-minute interactive demonstrations on home details, finishes, and updates, from decks to fine woodworking.

The New American Home

Each year, the New American Home showcases the latest products, design trends, and building innovations. This year’s house, located in the luxury Ascaya community in Henderson, features skyline views and a resort lifestyle. Tour busses run every 30 minutes from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. Pick up tickets at booth C10 in the Central Hall. 

New Product Zone

See a handful of the 2024 International Builders’ Show product introductions at the New Product Zone on the exhibit floor.

Royal Woodtones beadboard

What’s New From Westlake Royal Building Products™ at the 2024 International Builders’ Show?

This year you’ll find Westlake Royal Building Products at one of the Central Hall’s largest exhibit booths—C3819.

Browse our entire product portfolio—Siding, Trim, Roofing, Stone, Windows, and Outdoor Living—to see the latest solutions for beautiful exteriors and interiors. We’re introducing an array of new products across our brands, including new siding profiles and colors, new column wraps, new roof colors, new stone profiles, and more.

And be sure to check out these special events at our booth:

Wednesday, February 28:
Jake Bruton – Day Two 9:00-10:00 a.m.
Matt Risinger – Day Two 2:00-3:00 p.m.

Need a free Expo Pass? Get yours here.

We can’t wait to see you there!

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Top photo: Nick Hagen Photography

8 Winter Workwear Options for the Yard or Jobsite

Whether you’re installing siding on the jobsite, stacking material in the dealer yard, or driving a delivery truck, winter can be a challenging time to work outdoors. Having comfortable winter workwear that keeps you warm and dry from your head to your feet is essential.

Here are a few work gear options to check out.

Winter Workwear for Outdoor Jobs

Heated Jacket

The M12 Heated Axis Jacket from Milwaukee uses M12 RedLithium battery technology, carbon-fiber heating elements, an optimized liner, and Quick-Heat functionality to distribute heat quickly to the chest, back, and shoulders. It has a hidden battery pass-through for front or rear battery placement. The jacket’s re-engineered Axis Ripstop polyester fabric protects the wearer from abrasion while preventing tears from spreading.

Heated jacket from Milwaukee as winter workwear

Work Boots

Wolverine’s I-90 DuraShocks waterproof insulated steel toe 6-inch work boots feature a breathable, waterproof membrane with a Dri-lex moisture-wicking mesh lining, 200-gram Thinsulate insulation for additional warmth, and a waterproof nubuck leather upper. A DuraShocks polyurethane outsole absorbs shock and returns energy, while a removable double density footbed adds cushion and stability, and a fiberglass shank stabilizes the foot.

Wolverine work boots

Hi-Vis Winter Jacket

The GloWear 8275 Heavy-Duty High-Vis Workwear Jacket from Ergodyne has a wind- and water-resistant polyurethane coating, 280-gram sherpa lining in the body and the hood for mid-weight warmth, 40-gram quilted sleeves, and a large hood to fit over hard hats. Other details include reinforced, flexible shoulders for long-lasting wear as well as freedom of movement; adjustable cuffs, waist, and hood; and six exterior pockets and two interior pockets. The jacket has Type R, Class 2 – ANSI/ISEA 107-2020-compliant fluorescent material and 2” reflective tape for night-time conspicuity.

Ergodyne winter workwear jacket

Insulated Winter Workwear Pants

Carhartt Storm Defender lightweight relaxed-fit rain pants with Gore-Tex are designed to seal out rain and wind while letting the body breathe and regulate internal temperature. The pants feature Cordura reinforcements for added durability, waterproof seams, ankle-to-knee zippers with storm flaps, and reflective details.

Carhartt winter workwear pants

Balaclava

The Fargo 2.0 balaclava from Helly Hansen Workwear is flame-resistant, anti-static, and abrasion-resistant. It has a ribbed, expandable face opening, moisture-moving material to wick sweat away from the skin, and flatlock seams that minimize chafing.

Helly Hansen winter workwear balaclava

Cut-Resistant Winter Workwear Gloves

Coldwork Hi-Viz Fastfit E5-260 high-visibility, cut-resistant work gloves from Mechanix feature 100-gram Thinsulate insulation on the back of the hand and 40 grams of Thinsulate on the palm, a water-resistant and wind-proof SoftShell, and water-resistant, touch-screen-compatible polyurethane grip palm with added padding to reduce impacts and vibration from tools. The gloves’ high-tensile-strength liner provides 360° EN 388: 2016 level E & ANSI A5 cut resistance.

Mechanix work gloves

Beanie

Simple-yet-effective winter workwear, Caterpillar’s Logo Knit Beanie is made with 100% acrylic material and has darts on the crown for a better fit. Three colors are available.

Caterpillar beanie

Base Layer Shirt

Made with 100% Merino wool, the Blaklader Warm Base Layer Top is designed to keep the worker warm and dry in temperatures from -20 degrees to 25 degrees F. It features warming zones in the shoulders, arms, back, behind, and sides; rib-knitted collar; extended back; and wristlet at sleeve ends.

Blaklader base layer work shirt

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How Contractors and Dealers Can Generate Local Leads With Effective Marketing

Whether you’re a homebuilder, remodeler, or LBM dealer, your customers are likely using the internet as one of their first steps in shopping for a new vendor or service provider. Unfortunately, many contractors and small dealers don’t have a well-established online presence to generate local leads like larger chain brands.

So how can you go about competing for customers in your area? Below, we’ll explore effective strategies on how to generate local leads for contractors and dealers, focusing on the importance of local marketing.

Leveraging Marketing to Generate Local Leads

Without an established online presence, it can be hard to rank organically in customer searches. Even if you develop a website and start contributing heavily to content and organic SEO, it’s a long-term investment. Investing in paid advertising like Google ads can help you get in front of an audience through strategies like geotargeting.

Optimizing your Google Business (previously “Google My Business”) is a crucial step in local marketing for contractors and dealers, ensuring that potential customers can easily find your services and learn how to generate local leads. Make sure you own your brand’s Google Business and update it with all the correct information, including your business address, phone number, and hours of operation. Customers will often ask questions here, and providing answers can act as an easy-to-find FAQ page.

Tools for Contractors to Generate Local Leads

Google offers local service ads that businesses can take advantage of. Unlike Google Ads, you don’t need a wealth of knowledge to use the service, which means even those with basic tech skills can use it. With this service, contractors can highlight their services, garner customer reviews, and receive the “Google Guaranteed” badge for further credibility. Pairing this with strategic sponsored ads (think “contractors near me” results) can create a dual approach to sustained presence in search results.

These tools play a vital role in the local marketing strategy for contractors, providing an avenue to generate local leads effectively and set up a strong online presence.

Generate local leads using Google ads
Photo: iStock.com/ThinkNeo

Tools for Dealers to Generate Local Leads

Dealers can enhance their local outreach through digital co-op programs with manufacturers. These programs offer dealers a unique opportunity to boost local marketing and generate local leads through collaborative efforts and shared resources. The manufacturer provides financial support or resources for advertising and activities while the dealers can use this support and the dealer’s name to appeal to local buyers. The shared investment between the two businesses can help ensure a robust marketing strategy.

Start by reaching out to ask about being listed on their website or sponsoring a limited sales event. Sometimes manufacturers will also grant dealers the rights to specific regions, so once a solid relationship has been established, this can be a lucrative request.

Local Digital Advertising Mistakes to Avoid

When implementing these local marketing strategies, avoid these common pitfalls:

What Local Ad Success Looks Like

Success looks different for every brand and the effort it puts in. But there are a couple of ways to mark growth. First, be sure to track what matters. If the goal is to drive contact form submissions, pay attention to submissions that arrived from ad efforts, not organic reach. Or perhaps a brand is more concerned about service visits, in which case impressions aren’t as relevant. Also, pay attention to year-over-year and month-over-month growth or when traffic begins to decline.

Learn More Tips From Westlake Royal Building Products

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Top image: iStock.com/ThinkNeo

2024 Colors of the Year Bring Both Calm and Energy

Toward the end of each year, paint manufacturers and other experts announce their Colors of the Year. These highly anticipated declarations offer a reflection of life and society in the moment—our collective mood, influences, and emotional drivers—and guidance for the months ahead.

Some of this year’s prominent 2024 Colors of the Year selections divide neatly into two distinct categories: softer, more relaxed tones answering our mutual desire for peace and calm in a messy world, or bolder, dramatic hues delivering much-needed energy. Though the two sides are notably different, common themes include interpretations of “warmth,” “peace,” and “well-being.” All of the options, light or dark, evoke a depth and saturated richness that draw you in and strengthen each color’s versatility throughout the interior and exterior.

Rich and Relaxing Colors of the Year

Sherwin-Williams: Upward

Described as a “breezy, blissful blue,” Sherwin-Williams’ Upward (SW 6239) is “a sunny-day shade for spaces brimming with positive energy, creative thinking, and total contentment.” Like the company’s 2023 color, Redend Point, the shade is soft but rich, soothing yet eye-catching, a way to make a statement without feeling overwhelmed. Pair it with greige neutrals, black, olive or honeydew green, or a desert brown.

Colors of the Year: Sherwin-Williams Upward
Photo courtesy of Sherwin-Williams

Valspar: Renew Blue

Similar to Sherwin-Williams, Valspar’s Color of the Year, Renew Blue, is a soft-yet-rich hue in the blue family, but with green influences that lend a peaceful vintage feel evoking a sense of calm. “Most of us are seeking an end to feeling overwhelmed—less stress, less information, less technology, fewer choices. Simplicity,” the company said. “Here, we can slow down and create the peaceful place we seek.”

Pair it with mid-toned neutrals in tan and greige.

Colors of the Year: Valspar Renew Blue
Photo courtesy of Valspar

Pantone: Peach Fuzz

Pantone’s Peach Fuzz is “a velvety gentle peach whose all-embracing spirit enriches mind, body, and soul,” the global color authority says, noting that our need for nurturing, empathy, and compassion was a driver for this year’s selection. A “warm, cozy shade” between pink and orange, Pantone says Peach Fuzz offers a fresh approach to softness, with gentle lightness and a vintage vibe for a subtle sensuality that evokes new modernity.

“Pantone 13-1023 Peach Fuzz brings belonging, inspires recalibration, and an opportunity for nurturing, conjuring up an air of calm, offering us a space to be, feel, and heal and to flourish from whether spending time with others or taking the time to enjoy a moment by ourselves,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director for the Pantone Color Institute. “Drawing comfort from Pantone 13-1023 Peach Fuzz, we can find peace from within, impacting our wellbeing. An idea as much as a feeling, Pantone 13-1023 Peach Fuzz awakens our senses to the comforting presence of tactility and cocooned warmth.”

Photo courtesy of Pantone

PPG: Limitless

Limitless, a creamy, soft yellow from PPG, “instills a warm, sunny vibe that hints at growth and blooming energy,” the manufacturer said. By offering both “the power of a primary color and the essence of a neutral,” Limitless is, as its name suggests, a versatile option for interior and exterior applications as a full-body color or as an accent. The hue’s soothing vibe is in sharp contrast to vivid Vining Ivy, a Caribbean aqua, the company’s previous-year selection.

Colors of the Year: PPG Limitless
Photo courtesy of PPG

Bold and Energetic Colors of the Year

Behr: Cracked Pepper

Confident and dramatic, Cracked Pepper from Behr is a versatile soft black that can make a statement as the primary focal point in the room or as a simple, classic accent. Lush and elegantly moody, Cracked Pepper provides a perfect contrast against creamy whites but is rich enough to stand alone without overpowering the space.

Photo courtesy of Behr

Dutch Boy: Ironside

Another color selection that is dark but lush is Ironside, a deep olive that Dutch Boy describes as a “richly dimensional hue that soothes and reassures.”

“Creating a space for wellness should be a driving factor in everyday life,” said Ashley Banbury, color marketing manager for Dutch Boy. “That’s why taking a natural approach to healthy living and safe spaces is a pivotal part of the current landscape. Dutch Boy Paints’ 2024 One-Coat Color of the Year—the stunning, strong Ironside—incorporates all the above in one bold color and can be applied in one single coat.”

The company says the color provides a sense of sophisticated comfort behind furniture, art, and accessories.

Photo courtesy of Dutch Boy

Benjamin Moore: Blue Nova

The blue-violet of Benjamin Moore’s Blue Nova offers “depth and intrigue, balanced by an undercurrent of reassurance,” the paint manufacturer says. “This alluring mid-tone features an enchanting duality, capturing the spotlight with endlessly classic appeal.”

The company’s larger trending 2024 color palette features softly saturated hues for a nuanced contrast. “On adventures near or far, we encourage collecting poignant color moments with verve and personality that are unexpected and boundlessly magical.”

Photo courtesy of Benjamin Moore

From Colors of the Year to exterior trends, get the latest insights by subscribing to our monthly enewsletter.

5 Home Exterior Trends for 2024

A home’s exterior is often the first thing guests or potential buyers see, meaning its curb appeal can have a significant impact on making a good first impression. Whether refreshing or renovating a home, staying current on 2024 exterior trends can help make a statement, increase a home’s value, and enhance the comfort of the living space.

Here are a few home exterior trends we’re expecting in the new year.

1. A Connection with Nature

Connecting people more closely with nature and natural elements, biophilic design can lead to increased well-being and productivity. Growing wellness and environmental concerns are driving demand for outdoor living space improvements and integration of nature in design, including elements like green roofs, living walls, and large windows.

You can create dramatic outdoor spaces by contrasting light and dark colors. For example, matte black can be paired with materials like brick, stone, shingles, and wood for an eye-catching twist. Bold, earthy tones such as navy blue, forest green, dark brown, and red can also be combined with nature-inspired materials for organic texture and warmth. Other trending colors for 2024 include vivid teal and aqua blue, which can induce a sense of serenity.

2. High-Performance Siding

As climate change continues to intensify and lead to severe weather, there is a growing need for high-performance, weather-resistant building products. Homeowners continue to favor resilient materials that require less maintenance or replacement.

For example, Celect Cellular Composite Siding replicates the beauty and aesthetics of wood while remaining low maintenance and durable for a lifetime. Featuring a patented interlocking seam design, it keeps moisture out and almost completely eliminates seams. Plus, its Kynar Aquatec coating provides superior protection against ultraviolet rays, reduces energy demands and resists dirt, seasonal staining and insects.

Celect siding

3. Functional Outdoor Living Spaces

Focused on creating seamless connections between interior and exterior spaces, 2024 exterior trends include an evolution in outdoor design that includes integration of outdoor kitchens and living areas. Elements such as fire pits, pizza ovens, outdoor entertainment, and games can be incorporated to personalize the space and provide a unique entertaining hub. Using cohesive materials and textures that can withstand the elements and flow from indoors to outdoors, such as stone veneer, can help elevate the space and further tie it to the home’s interior.

4. Exterior Trends: Mixed Materials and Textures

Blending various textures, finishes, and materials on a home’s facade can create a unique, visually dynamic look. Using a combination of materials like brick and vinyl siding or stone and wood can add depth and visual interest. An option like Versetta Stone delivers the authentic look and feel of stone in a panelized format that is easy to install with screws or nails and requires no metal lath or scratch coat. The stone siding features a tongue-and-groove system for perfect spacing, has a built-in rainscreen, and can be installed almost anywhere without additional footings for support.

Versetta Stone manufactured stone siding

5. Exterior Trends: Transitional Takes on Tradition

A versatile design approach allows a home to transcend trends, ensuring its relevance and appeal over an extended period of time. In 2024, look for a rise in classic design trends featuring elements such as vertical siding, crisp white trim, and other modernized traditional styles as well as a shift away from minimalism that incorporates more nostalgic, personal touches to home exteriors, ushering in more of a transitional style.

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SEO for Building Pros: A Practical Guide to Boosting Online Visibility

In the digital age, the first page of search results is the new storefront on Main Street. It’s where credibility is established and first impressions are formed. Search engine optimization (SEO), therefore, acts as the architect of this storefront, ensuring that your business is not just a hidden gem but a beacon that stands out in the crowded marketplace. SEO for building pros is your company’s ticket to the top of search results, where potential customers are searching for your services, and the good news is, you don’t need a marketing or IT department to get started.

Capitalizing on all that SEO has to offer involves tweaking your online presence to make your website more appealing to search engines. Why does it matter? Because when someone needs a contractor, they’re likely to trust the ones they find on the first page of Google.

Different Types of SEO for Building Pros and How to Maximize Their Impact

Let’s break down the essentials of SEO for contractors with a focus on simplicity and practicality.

Content Strategy:

Technical SEO:

Local SEO:

Offsite SEO:

Man searches on phone to find contractors practicing good SEO for building pros

SEO Changes You Can Make Right Now

Now that we’ve established the significance of SEO for building pros in the digital landscape, let’s dive into actionable steps — changes you can implement immediately to enhance your online presence. Consider these practical tweaks and optimizations that can make a tangible impact on how your contracting business appears in search results.

Smart Keyword Use

Identify the words your clients are likely to use when looking for a contractor. For example, “siding replacement contractor.” Sprinkle these words naturally throughout your website.

Image Optimization

Compress your images before uploading them to your website. This helps your site load faster, and Google appreciates that.

Google Business Profile Tune-Up

Double-check your business information on Google My Business. Is everything accurate? Great, you’re on the right track.

Regular Content Updates

Updating your website pages regularly with relevant content signals to Google that you’re active and engaged. This is where a blog might come in handy. And you can start off small, maybe once or twice a month, turn the frequently asked questions and concerns of your customers into a thought leadership piece on your blog and share it through email, newsletters, and/or social media to drive viewers to your site.

Other Ways to Increase Google Visibility

SEO success is all about playing the long game. Unfortunately, none of these updates will change your search engine ranking overnight. If it did, everyone would be doing it! So stick with it, and keep monitoring the changes you’ve made and their impact. At the same time,look into alternative pathways that can propel your contracting business even more in the vast realm of Google visibility, such as:

Local Service Ads

Google’s Local Service Ads are like the fast pass to the top of the search results. Look into them — they’re worth it. These ads prioritize local services, ensuring that your business is prominently featured when potential clients in your area are actively seeking the services you offer.

PPC (Pay-Per-Click)

If you have a bit of budget, PPC ads can give you a boost. With PPC, you set a budget for your ads, and you only incur costs when users actively engage by clicking on your advertisement. It’s a cost-effective way to ensure you’re reaching a targeted audience, maximizing your budget by paying for actual interactions rather than just impressions.

Consider PPC as a strategic tool to amplify your business presence, especially when aiming for specific demographics or promoting time-sensitive offers.

Setting Expectations for SEO for Building Pros

Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a stellar online presence. Results take time. Be patient as you build your digital strategy and ramp up your SEO efforts.

This guest post was provided by Socius. Learn more about their SEO services below.

Introducing Socius’s Fast Start Program:

If you’d rather not take on an SEO strategy alone, Socius can work as an extension of your business to expand your digital marketing efforts and help you reach ready-to-act, qualified customers.

And now, Socius has partnered with EverConnect to offer you up to $2,500 in credit toward qualified new leads for your home improvement business when you partner with Socius for digital marketing. It’s designed to generate leads and business while your long-term SEO strategy takes shape. Learn more here.

Boosting your online visibility doesn’t have to be overwhelming. With the practical steps we’ve outlined in this blog, you’re well on your way to dominating the digital arena, one search result at a time.

4 More Ways AI Can Help the Construction Industry

By now you’ve likely heard about artificial intelligence (AI)—and if you’ve ever “conversed” with a company’s website chatbot, you’ve used it too. AI is the buzzword of the moment, for sure. As we’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, it’s not likely going to replace construction workers. But artificial intelligence is definitely showing potential to enhance what we do and create efficiencies in how we do it.

Previous AI opportunities we explored include pre-design support, design development, permit documentation automation, site safety, and materials management.

AI also has the potential to help your homeowner customers, as well, by streamlining processes and providing a better experience. Paul Burleson, Westlake Royal Building Products™ National Remodeling Accounts Manager, outlines some of the additional ways AI can be used in this industry:

1. Personalized recommendations: AI-powered tools can help homeowners get personalized recommendations on which products and materials to use, based on their preferences, budget, and specific needs.

2. Smart assistants: AI-powered smart assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant can help homeowners with a range of tasks, from turning their lights on and off to adjusting the temperature in their home. Homeowners can use these assistants to control various smart home devices, which can help to improve their overall living experience.

3. Virtual home improvement tools: AI-powered virtual tools can help homeowners visualize changes before they make them. This technology can be used to create 3D models of a home’s interior and exterior, allowing homeowners to see how different paint colors, furniture, and décor will look in their home before making a final decision.

4. Predictive maintenance: AI can be used to predict when maintenance needs to be performed on home appliances, systems, and other components. This can help homeowners to avoid costly repairs and replacements, as well as ensure that their home is always functioning at its best.

Overall, AI has the potential to revolutionize the home improvement industry, making it easier and more convenient for homeowners to improve their living spaces. For more ideas, be sure to read our previous coverage here.

Image credit: iStock.com/metamorworks

Survey: What Are Homeowners Planning for Home Remodeling?

What are Westlake Royal Building Products’ homeowner customers and potential customers thinking about for their upcoming home remodeling projects? We recently surveyed 114 subscribers to the Live Abode consumer blog about their design plans and preferences. Here are a few insights:

Home Remodeling Styles Remain Classic

When it comes to their “dream” architectural styles, Traditional continues to reign, with 34.3% of respondents selecting the style. Coastal (18.9%), Farmhouse (15.3%), and Mid-Century Modern (10.3%) styles followed.

Interior Remodeling Is in the Plans…

Of homeowners who are planning to remodel, 22% said they plan to prioritize interior projects, while 14% are planning an exterior renovation.

Homeowners who are planning to upgrade their exterior space are targeting regular refreshes and updates over a full deck project.

But what if money were no obstacle? When asked what changes they would make to their homes if they had an unlimited budget, 21.6% would tackle an interior remodel and 17.7% would renovate the exterior. A deck or porch expansion was a close third, with 13.8% of respondents selecting the option.

…but Exterior Remodeling Is on the Brain

While responding homeowners indicated they are planning interior remodels more than exterior, they’re seeking knowledge mostly on exterior projects, which could indicate that such projects are next up on their lists or are forming in their minds. We asked what they’d like to hear more about, and their most-wanted topics were exterior home ideas, siding and trim, and outdoor living spaces, followed by paint color trends.

For your homeowner customers working through the decision and design process, Westlake Royal Building Products™ offers a number of tools to assist both you and them. These include:

Online design tools: The Virtual Remodeler, the Dream Designer, and HomePlay Prime each allow buyers to mix and match products on an image of their own home or a similar home.

Live Abode: Our design blog written especially for homeowners is delivered directly to their inbox. Access and subscribe here.

Color Explorer: Choose color families and find products that match and coordinate. Click here to access.

Color Combinations: Start with a base color and mix-and-match coordinating accent colors. Click to access Royal Color Combinations, Exterior Portfolio Color Combinations, and Celect Color Combinations

Browse all of our exterior and interior products, access samples and resources, and find inspiration at www.westlakeroyalbuildingproducts.com.

Dealers Ramp Up Adoption of Ecommerce, Other Technologies

The construction and LBM industries are notorious for their slow adoption of technology. This includes ecommerce, which has lagged behind the pace of other industries. But the pace of adoption is increasing, driven by several factors, most notably the pandemic, wider acceptance, and demand from the next generation of customers and workers. And, perhaps surprising to some, AI is also playing a role.

According to LBM Journal’s 2023 LBM 100 survey, 40% of dealers offered online sales in 2022, a 9.5% increase over the previous year. Of those, 27.4% of orders were for curbside pickup.

“We’re hearing from almost every dealer we talk to that there is a real awareness that ecommerce is a needed element,” said Mike Berger, managing editor for LBM Journal. “The buying habits not just of consumers but also pros have changed so much since the pandemic started.”

Consumers have gotten used to logging onto not only Amazon but also home improvement retailers like The Home Depot and Lowe’s to compare prices and make purchases; LBM dealers are realizing that they need to ramp up their own ecommerce to keep up.

“Ecommerce is here, it’s only going to increase, and dealers are going to need to make every effort they can to accommodate it,” Berger said. “Younger folks coming into the LBM industry are bringing with them patterns of commerce they’ve already developed. To them, it’s second nature to be able to go to their phone, go to an app, place their order, and be done.”

While ecommerce has lagged, LBM dealers have made strides in other areas of technology. In its 2023 Construction Supply 150 report, Webb Analytics noted that while construction suppliers continue to devote a low percentage of revenue to technology, they’ve made remarkable gains. “Online bill presentation now is common, with online payment capabilities close behind,” the report explained. “The next big trends will involve notification of delivery status and online information about whether a product is in inventory. Both are likely to be features of customer-facing apps for smartphones—another growing trend.”

Dealers have responded to customer demand for easier access to accounts and pricing by making it easier to pay bills or check inventory online, a must-have for building pros who do office work after regular business hours because they’re on the jobsite all day. Online access may also be beneficial for customers for whom English is not their first language.

“Despite spending an average of less than 1% of revenue on technology—far below most other industries—leading dealers have gotten dramatically more techie over the years, especially this decade,” the Construction Supply 150 said. “We’re at the point where more than two-thirds of responding CS150 dealers make it possible for their customers to see purchasing history and bills online, and another quarter of the dealers plan to add that capability. Over half permit online bill payment, and another 30% plan to roll out the feature.”

One reason ecommerce might be slower to adopt is because pricing and supply in the building sector isn’t always black and white. Supply chain challenges, particularly over the past few years, have made it harder to predict what is available, and pricing can be impacted by a number of factors that vary customer by customer.

But, ironically, technology is helping to address those challenges, as well. “The stock issue is gradually improving as dealers get better warehouse systems,” Webb Analytics President Craig Webb said. “The pricing is getting better in part because dealers are getting more sophisticated at being able to categorize customers.”

Webb’s Construction Supply 150 found that 35% of dealers have a warehouse management system, but another 26% want to add it. Delivery notification systems are also on the rise, the study found, with 40% of dealers offering it now; 79% of dealers have dispatch/delivery software, which means notification offerings could rise soon.

For now, Berger said, many customers are using ecommerce for smaller items or one-off items, such as a few extra 2x4s or other missing materials needed to quickly complete a job. Consumers are using it as part of their pricing research, which positions dealers to potentially earn new business if they have an item at an equal or better price as a nearby big box store.

How Artificial Intelligence Can Help Dealers With Ecommerce

Webb and Berger both point to artificial intelligence (AI) as an important factor for dealers going forward.

“It looks like artificial intelligence’s ability to slice and price could be one of the very first ways AI makes an impact on dealers,” Webb said. “It’s possible to collect tons of information about customer history and purchasing patterns, to scrape the internet for what everyone else is selling for, and to look at commentaries on what’s happening with pricing trends, strikes, forest fires, etc., and make pricing recommendations in the moment for customers. [As a simple example,] it’s an automated way of seeing a winter storm coming and analyzing how many shovels you have.”

Berger said one of the biggest fears he hears from dealers is that adding ecommerce means increasing the amount of staff needed to handle it. But dealers who have found success are reporting the opposite, thanks in part to AI tools that can assist with filling out product descriptions, answering common questions, and more. “With the tools that are available, dealers aren’t having to radically ramp up their hiring.”

Solutions With Software

Existing and trusted software solutions also are playing a key role in getting dealers up to speed. The industry’s leading software providers offer systems that allow companies to run programs for what they want and need while adding or removing capabilities in the future.

Epicor’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, for example, has an option for an integrated ecommerce platform.

ECI announced in July a new ecommerce solution for its Spruce ERP platform. The tools allow dealers to build a professional storefront website and customer portal without the need for coding or web development expertise. “For consumers and tradespeople, this means unlocking the ability to shop online for delivery or in-store pickup, browse products, create accounts, build self-service quotes, pay invoices, and more,” John Maiuri, division president LBMH at ECI, said in an announcement of the launch. “For LBM and hardlines businesses, this means help in avoiding over-stocking since inventory counts, transactions, pricing, invoices, and other information are directly connected between systems.”

It’s clear that more and more LBM dealers are embracing the efficiencies that technology can bring—while recognizing that customers will only continue to expect such conveniences in the future. As technology solutions become more advanced and more user-friendly, there perhaps may be no better time to take the leap.

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Image: iStock.com/gorodenkoff

3 Ways Leadership Is Evolving to Ensure Happier Employees and Customers

Anyone who has ever had a bad boss knows there’s at least some truth to the oft-quoted phrase “Employees don’t leave companies, they leave bad bosses.” Along with employee turnover, poor leadership on the part of managers and supervisors can impact employee morale and overall operations to a point of causing inefficiencies, costly mistakes, and, ultimately, unhappy customers.

According to Paul Burleson, Senior Account Executive of National Remodeling Accounts for Westlake Royal Building Products™, we need to see a paradigm shift in our approach to leadership—a significant change in the way leadership is viewed, practiced, and executed.

“Historically, leadership was often associated with a top-down approach where leaders made decisions and gave instructions to their subordinates,” Burleson says. “However, recently, there has been a significant swing toward a more collaborative, inclusive, and participatory style of leadership.”

Burleson describes three ways the old methods are changing:

Overall, these paradigm shifts are a response to the changing nature of work and the evolving needs and expectations of today’s workforce, Burleson says. By adopting more inclusive, emotionally intelligent, and collaborative leadership styles, leaders can create a more engaged and empowered team that is better equipped to navigate the complexities of the modern workplace.

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