Distributors are always looking to bring more to the table for their contractor customers, and Allied Building Products Corp. has taken that approach to a new level with its new expanded Contractor Tool Center program. The company opened its prototype facility in Wall Township, N.J., in October 2008 to great success. The second facility, located in East Rutherford, N.J., opened in May, and it is a hit with contractors.
The East Rutherford and Wall Township branch locations offer a wide selection of tools and accessories beyond the typical roofing and construction offerings, with more than 7,000 square feet dedicated to tools, safety equipment, and other accessories in a concept Allied is touting as its new Contractor Tool Center.
The idea behind it was simple, according to Allied CEO Bob Feury Jr.: provide contractors with everything they might need, saving them time and money. “The goal was a much more expanded product offering, including many things that a typical roofing contractor’s distributor might not carry - hand tools, hardware supplies, lawn and garden equipment,” Feury said. “This is our most expansive offering by far. There are a lot of products contractors buy that have nothing to do with roofing or siding, and we wanted to fill that need.”
The East Rutherford location is perfect for the prototype, noted Feury, as it has plenty of space and is already very popular. “The location has a lot of heavy walk-in traffic,” he said. “The thought was try to make contractors’ lives easier by capturing all of the products they might need to complete a project on any given day. We can save them money by consolidating stops to one - versus three or four.”
A New ApproachAllied conducted polls of contractors in order to fine-tune the approach. “It was an experiment for us,” said Feury. “We polled contractors throughout the state of New Jersey about everything they had in their pickup trucks. We stock items like mailboxes, dryer vents - things they might repair or change on a jobsite, but they don’t necessarily relate to roofing or siding. We wanted to build a store that had all of those products.”
Others have catalog ordering and other departments, but this approach is different, noted Feury. “I don’t think there’s anyone who has what we have here,” he said. “In a sense, it rivals the home center for the contractor.”
Items available beyond the standard roofing accessory items include:
• Safety and personal protective equipment
• Power tools
• Hand tools
• Hardware supplies
• Outdoor power equipment
• Lawn and garden supplies
• Fasteners and nails
• Painting supplies
• Electrical and plumbing supplies
• Solar products and systems
Construction of the prototype location took about a year. The grand opening of the East Rutherford facility was held on May 12, featuring a ribbon-cutting ceremony with East Rutherford Mayor James L. Cassella. The event included a Vendor Expo, and more than 50 of Allied’s vendor partners were on hand to demo products and answer questions about their services.
Robert Steffanelli of Robert Steffanelli Roofing and Siding, Fairfield, N.J., was impressed by the expanded East Rutherford store. “It’s spacious” he said. “I’ve been dealing with them for a lot of years, and they are very knowledgeable. They brought in a lot of new items that I would have had to go to a hardware store or home center to get. Everything you need is right there.”
Bill Tremonte of B-B Improvement, North Arlington, N.J., likes to see the items on display. “It’s convenient,” he said. “You see things that you might not have been thinking about but you need - bug spray, different types of screws, even power tools - and you can grab them as you’re running by. It’s nice.”
Feury pointed out that the store’s layout is crucial. “We put a lot of thought into it,” he said. “The thought was to organize it by product category and design it in a way that brings contractors through the store.”
“We wanted to give contractors a store that caters specifically to their day-to-day needs in an accessible and manageable environment,” said Rick Rominger, Allied’s National Merchandising Manager.
The company will base its expansion plans on the trends seen at their two prototype locations. According to Feury, all branches might not have the space to include everything at the Wall Township and East Rutherford locations, but elements can be added based on what’s working in the New Jersey locations. One thing remains the same, said Feury: “Our goal is to have everything a contactor could possibly need.”
For more information about Allied Building Products, visitwww.alliedbuilding.com.