June 2020
Webb Analytics Report
What's happening and what matters in construction supply, from longtime ProSales editor Craig Webb.
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Get It Now: Pandemic and Recession Advice From Dozens of LBM's Best Dealers
We've only reached the end of the beginning of life with COVID-19. How should you adjust your sales, marketing, finance, leadership style, and more to meet rapidly changing times? To answer those and other questions, Webb Analytics teamed with Building Industry Partners to bring together more than 100 LBM executives and subject matter experts on April 22-24 for a virtual summit. Now, you can get a report containing verbatim insights from the panelists plus links to helpful resources. Feel free to share the PDF version with your colleagues. The info in it will serve you for years to come. View report
Want Useful Data on COVID's Economic Impact? Check Out This New Survey of 20,000+ Firms
One of the best and freshest reports that I have seen on how small businesses are doing these days is a little-publicized weekly survey by the Census Bureau. Its poll of more than 100,000 companies, each with 500 or fewer employees, regularly gets more than 20,000 responses, making it one of the deepest, most comprehensive reports from anywhere. The latest report came out today and covers the week ended May 16. The upper chart above reveals construction businesses nationwide are less likely to say they are feeling severe impact from the pandemic than other sectors of the economy. Of all respondents in the construction sector, 28.4% said they were feeling a large negative effect, 54.1% reported a moderate negative effect, and 15.8% said they felt little to no effect. As the lower chart shows, those numbers have stayed consistent for at least four weeks. This same survey also offers results for individual states. Get the numbers here .
Webb Analytics Marketing/PR Class Goes Online With New Session on COVID-Era Communicating
The coronavirus pandemic has only reinforced what smart dealers have long known: You can’t succeed by relying solely on face-to-face sales techniques. The best LBM dealers have learned to promote themselves profitably by relying on a low-cost (often no-cost) combination of social media, e-newsletters, events, flyers, sponsorships, special projects, and plain old press releases. You can too!

Now available for the first time as an online course, the Webb Analytics Marketing and PR Boot Camps on June 24-25 and Aug. 26-27 are your opportunity to discover imaginative ideas and learn new techniques that will transform your marketing efforts.

In a little more than six hours of learning spread across two consecutive days, this videoconference boot camp will teach you to:

  • Create social media that leads to sales
  • Get free publicity through press releases
  • Take your website to new heights
  • Build brand awareness at low or no cost
  • Organize events and PK sessions 
  • Employ the power of logos and mascots
  • Decide which media are right for you
  • Communicate with co-workers while simultaneously winning over customers.
  • Produce great TV and radio ads
  • Respond to reporters when a crisis erupts

All that, plus a new session: How to recalibrate your marketing and ad campaigns in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Sign up today!
This Month's M&A Report Veers Off Usual Path
Two notable trends--one a bit eye-opening--mark LBM's M&A activity over the past month. The expected trend saw a continuation in the number of closures at single-store operations. The unexpected trend saw a pair of companies spread their wings, when Kodiak Building Partners bought a components manufacturer and framer in Idaho and Professional Builders Supply acquired a roofing and siding installer that's based in the Carolinas but also will take PBS for the first time to Nashville, TN. More
Early Numbers from 2017 Economic Census Suggest Dealer Losses Vary Widely by State
The Economic Census is our most comprehensive source of data on construction supply companies, but it reveals its numbers slowly. For instance, to date we have numbers for only 36 states plus the District of Columbia regarding how many establishments in the "Other Building Material Dealers" category there were in 2017. While not every state's number is available, it's clear there were big differences between the states regarding how the number of establishments changed in each jurisdiction between the 2012 and 2017 Economic Censuses. As the chart above shows, five states plus the District of Columbia actually added locations, while elsewhere the count dropped by between one and 120 locations. The 13 missing states should be added by late fall.

Keep in mind that the "Other Building Material Dealers" count includes not only lumberyards, roofing and drywall companies but also any other construction supply firm that isn't a home center, hardware store, or paint store. Thus, the category includes K+B outlets, flooring companies, and similar firms. It probably will take until 2021 before we get a more accurate picture of pro-oriented LBM operations. That's when the Census Bureau will release numbers on lumberyards alone, as well as give counts for how many establishments sell particular building products, like lumber, windows, and doors.
Worth Reading
Coming 6/23: Webinar on Post-Pandemic Growth
I'll be teaming with Rob Mersch of  ECi Software Solutions   on June 23 for an in-depth talk that will explore the many ways dealers can evolve as we emerge from the coronavirus . We'll discuss scenario planning, new sales opportunities, running your yard more efficiently, and using data and analytics to make better decisions. Register here
Get Insights on COVID Via This New Podcast
Just posted: My conversation with Brett Thorne, host and producer of the Building the Future podcast, on how dealers have been affected by COVID-19. Listen
Need LBM Research? Data? A Speaker?
If you want to run a better LBM company, Webb Analytics can help.

Webb Analytics was created by Craig Webb, who for 12 years served as editor-in-chief of ProSales, the nation's most-honored publication for construction supply executives. Webb Analytics alerts dealers to trends, threats, and opportunities from around the globe to help LBM insiders and investors make better decisions. He does it through personal visits, custom research, data, strategic consulting, speeches, roundtables, board work, and business development services.

Prior to joining ProSales, Webb worked as an editor and reporter at The Wall Street Journal in Brussels and New York. He served as chief economics reporter for United Press International, covered Congress and the White House for McGraw-Hill, was trade editor at the Journal of Commerce, and worked for other organizations in newsrooms from Indiana to Italy.

Contact him at cwebb@webb-analytics.com or by phone at 202.374.2068.

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