When Omaha Paper Co. began looking at how to take advantage of the Internet it discovered the potential of an e-commerce platform. Through a trial-and-error process, the company figured out that it was possible to sell its products nationwide. Since Omaha Paper Co. was unsure of the outcome and did not want to risk the company’s reputation, President Robert Powell and his brother, Vice President Kevin Powell, decided to start a new company to work out the kinks. Within a few years, the test company was selling products to all 50 states. One customer in Hawaii paid shipping costs that were more than the product itself. The lesson was clear: Customers will pay for convenience if a business offers an easy–to-navigate website and delivery. 

On Christmas Eve 2007, approximately a month after Randy Trachtenberg purchased M&M Supply, he was approached by a salesperson who told him he needed a check made out to a furniture store near one of the company’s stores in Oklahoma City, Okla. 

“I told him ‘I’m not going to buy your wife a new dresser,’” Trachtenberg says. “He responded by telling me he needed the money for two new mattresses and box springs he wanted delivered to one of our customers on a drilling rig.”

After hearing this, Trachtenberg approved the purchase and made sure the beds were delivered that day, ensuring a comfortable holiday for a few of the employees of one of his company’s customers.

Kodiak Building Partners CEO and co-founder Steve Swinney admits that Kodiak’s founders chose a risky time to leave their positions at a leading building materials company to invest in a construction recovery. It was 2010, and the construction industry was only beginning to rebound from the recession that rocked the market just a few years earlier. Swinney and his partners were not deterred. “We felt as though there was an opportunity for investment,” he says.

The team believed that the industry could only improve, and the time was right to launch a business. “The market hadn’t really turned around, but it had bottomed out,” Swinney explains. 

“We did a lot of market research, and we felt a recovery was coming. It was very much a risk.”

Increased competition in the hardware space is the biggest challenge facing Gordon Flesch Co. The company’s primary business for the past 60 years has been selling printers, copiers, fax machines and other business equipment, but the competitive nature of the market is creating more price pressure than ever before. The answer, according to Patrick Flesch, vice president of sales for the western region, is not simply better and more efficient machines, but more complete service.

By treating the customer as a partner, Golden State Lumber retains the philosophy on which the company was built back in 1954. With products such as lumber, hardware, doors, windows, fencing and insulation, Golden State Lumber services a range of customers from the everyday handyman to the big developer, but its main focus is on the professional builder. 

“They care about the quality of product that’s going into their projects, but one of the biggest things they’re looking for is service,” CEO Jessica Scerri says. “We’re always looking at how we can provide better service and value to customers. It’s all about knowing our customers, what they need and being able to give them that service. For them, it’s about how can we service them to make sure we’re saving them money.”

Fortiline Waterworks has grown rapidly over the past 19 years and attributes its success to maintaining a relationship-based culture it developed from the beginning. “We started with one branch and six employees in 1997 and we have maintained a family and small company culture through today,” says co-founder and CEO Tim Tysinger. “In the early years you run very entrepreneurial, and as we have grown, we have maintained that spirit while becoming operationally sophisticated.”

The Concord, N.C.-based company, whose vision is to be the preferred and most trusted resource for utility infrastructure product solutions, was founded to offer contractors and municipalities a better source for their underground utility supplies. Fortiline distributes underground utility products for installation in both the public and private sectors. 

DDI System doesn’t approach ERP software from an abstract perspective – it was founded with a strong understanding of the day-to-day ins and outs of the distribution world. That understanding is key to the success of the company’s Inform ERP platform. President Adam Waller is the source of much of 

that understanding, having learned distribution while working for his grandfather’s distribution company, which continues to serve the plumbing and HVAC market to this day.

Waller started writing software for the company in the 1980s, and in 1994 he founded DDI System to provide distributors with effective ERP software solutions. 

Founded in 1997, Constar Supply offers a wide range of products for construction and industrial needs. The company sells everything a construction team could need, from lumber to hydraulics to masonry and even office supplies, with a special expertise in concrete. 

Constar Supply says all the products are backed by competitive prices and a sales force that has more than 20 years of experience in the industry. This experience lends itself to offering customers special attention in terms of safety supplies, precast and tilt-up construction, timber connections, trend drains and decorative concrete. Locally and privately owned by Bill Morse, the company says it prides itself on giving quality, personal attention to every customer.

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