For our forthcoming February issue, I talked with Joel Wihebrink, who runs a hardscape company in northern Indiana (and loves to fish).
Part of the story that didn’t make it into print was some of Joel’s advice on working with a stone supplier. His insight works for anyone dealing with a distributor or dealer, whether they’re buying rocks, iron or herbicide, so I wanted to share it here.
- Do your homework. Find a manufacturer or dealer that thinks like you do when it comes to pricing and quality of product. Do they compete on price, or do they offer a higher-end line of supplies? Pick a distributor whose philosophy meshes with your own.
- Build a relationship with a supply house. Joel buys mostly Belgard hardscape products, and that concentration of business gets him special treatment. His rep will often drive up from Indianapolis – a few hours away – to drop off product samples for customer presentations.
- Take advantage of their education. The courses your dealer offers are a great way for you and your employees to learn more about specific product lines and techniques. Joel counts the classes he takes toward his ICPI certification, an extra designation many of his competitors don’t have.
Now, Joel buys a lot of stone – like multiple semi-trailer loads every season. But even if you buy your product ad hoc, you can still build a solid relationship with a distributor and gain some serious business advantages in the process.