Updated: Sep 13, 2022
The 20% rise in attendance at Do it Best’s Fall Market in Indianapolis on Sept. 9-11 served as testimony to the generally good, albeit frenzied, times the co-op’s members have experienced lately. Here are seven takeaways from the event on where LBM stands now and where it’s heading.
Forest Products Forecast: Fast But Not Hurried. “I see next year being a much more manageable year” with less price volatility, said Rob Williams, Do it Best’s expert on SPF products. That prediction generally was echoed by other species specialists. “It’s going to look more like 2019,” said Gabe Arnold, who leads Do it Best’s buying of treated and engineered lumber. “In a relaxed environment, we’ll get another solid year.” Brad Seelig, the OSB and plywood leader, also predicted less price volatility but solid demand. “The panel market may look more like 2019,” he said. Several managers also said they’re seeing some customers adjust to product shortages and price changes by using different species—switching from SPF to hem-fir or Douglas fir, for example, or moving to Southern yellow pine.
An Improving Supply Chain. After a year of supply chain horrors—such as Christmas trees ordered for the holiday that didn’t arrive until the following March—conditions are improving for a lot of products, Vice President of Merchandising Dent Johnson said. Problems persist with paint, paint supplies, adhesives, and electrical power distribution products, Johnson noted, but “for the rest, it’s going well. We’re seeing the supply chain growing dramatically.”
Unprecedented Performance. Sales in the fiscal year ended June 30 climbed 7% to a record $5.5 billion, Do it Best President and CEO Dan Starr announced Sept. 11. That resulted in $129 million worth of rebate checks getting distributed, the second-highest rebate ever.
Budget for a Hybrid New Normal. While 2023 may echo 2019 in feel, the numbers will have more of a COVID-era look. Thus, when you’re making forecasts for next year, consider using the average sales figures experienced in 2019 through 2022 rather than just 2022 alone. And forecast unit sales as well as revenue. For instance, Do it Best believes each of its product segments will see higher unit sales in the fiscal year that began July 1, but drops in lumber prices will temper growth in total sales. So far, that has held true: In July and August, sales through distribution are up 9% from the same months in 2021, but lumber is a different story because of lower prices.
BOPIS Lockers. Do it Best has begun a program in which members can buy lockers (shown above) to store BOPIS products: items that have been bought online and are to be picked up at the store. The lockers can be configured for placement inside the store (where they can help generate more walk-in traffic) or outside the front door (thus making purchased items available for pickup outside business hours). The lockers not only reflect a COVID-created change in customer habits but also are part of a more general effort to “get customers to go to [Do it Best] stores that don’t go there today,” Communications Director Randy Rusk said.
Visual Solutions. For the first time, Do it Best’s exhibition space included a home center exhibit (shown above) that was set up in a way familiar to dealers who have seen the model stores at Orgill’s shows. The space highlighted store redesign ideas that Do it Best began promoting last year. (See https://www.webb-analytics.com/post/do-it-best-s-new-store-concepts-show-how-small-changes-can-boost-sales).
E-Commerce Improvements. For members that rely on Do it Best’s online store for their e-commerce, the system now can be configured to show pricing and product availability at a particular Do it Best location.