The essential role of the distributor in the purchasing chain

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Efficient and effective distribution channels are the backbone of any industry, and western red cedar is no exception. As the softwood lumber market has gone through a tumultuous time over the past year and a half, the Certified Cedar Merchants (CCDs) of the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association have adapted and worked hard to offer a multitude services and benefits to accommodate their customers and meet the specifications of many manufacturers.

Even at the best of times, managing the exchange of information and materials to maximize customer satisfaction in a cost-effective manner presents challenges. Wood products and information in distribution networks flow in many directions and through many organizational networks, often involving a journey from logging contractors to sawmills to value-added mills and then through distribution channels and wholesale before finally reaching the market. Effective and efficient distribution channels are the backbone of any industry, and Western Red Cedar is no exception. As the softwood lumber market has gone through a tumultuous time over the past year and a half, the Certified Cedar Merchants (CCDs) of the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association have adapted and worked hard to offer a multitude services and benefits to accommodate their customers and meet the specifications of many manufacturers.

The distribution of softwoods like western red cedar also faces additional industry-specific challenges characterized by a divergent product structure – a WRC log is often processed into a number of different products used in different applications – and the highly diverse nature of the WRC as a commodity.

All of this underscores how critical the role of the Certified Cedar Distributor is to the WRC industry.

In addition to ensuring that high-demand, high-value products reach the retailer and jobsite on time and on budget, CCDs provide a host of value-added services to their customers and industry. of the WRC. Here are some of the important functions of the CCD:

Inventory selection

Most retailers and distribution yards share the common goal of minimizing the time they need to keep inventory on hand – if it doesn’t arrive just when construction is about to start – and to have the right quantity to meet the demand. It’s no secret that the best way to manage this is to have a proven, reliable supply chain and accurate demand planning.

Because CCDs are in the field and in regular contact with their customers, they have a keen sense of local market demands and the materials needed for work package supplies. While other (non-timber) industries have suffered over the past year and a half from supply chain and inventory issues, the forestry and wood products industry has increased its inventory (sales) from 8.63 in Q2 2020 to 10.36 in Q2 2021. is well above the industry average.

Product expertise

Distributors in other industries sell products; WRCLA CCDs specialize in theirs. As mentioned above, Western Red Cedar logs produce a range of lumber, dimensional lumber and planks. These products are also sorted by grade and classification of grade, texture and seasoning.

WRCLA certified cedar dealers are extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of the species and its products and regularly lend their expertise to facilitate batch supplies and inventory orders. With growing awareness of climate change and the need to use sustainable and environmentally friendly building products, they are also well placed to help customers and interested manufacturers source certified materials or otherwise certified green products.

Delivery on site

The timber purchasing chain can be complex. Orders to distribution yards, refurbishment facilities, and job sites can involve tens of thousands of board feet or more of lumber and require agile logistics. Fast and accurate delivery has always been part of CCD’s value proposition. Arranging site deliveries to new sites that do not yet have an address and flexible out-of-hours deliveries are commonplace in the construction industry and are routinely handled by CCDs.

While large vehicles will still be needed to deliver product orders, it cannot be ignored that we are entering a period defined by Amazon-style shopping ordering and delivery from a smartphone. What companies like Uber and Lyft have done to the taxi industry and Door Dash has done to take-out will undoubtedly influence larger-scale delivery industries, and WRCLA CCDs are at the forefront of that. evolving model.

After-sales support

We live in an age of services, not just products. Over the years, WRCLA CCDs have transformed the Western Red Cedar business model by providing added value in the form of pre- and post-sales services. CCDs work closely with WRCLA affiliates and partners and can find solutions that save time and money with other building requirements such as house trim, fixings, stains and finishes, among others. From technical assistance and in-market training, to consulting and even arranging training in areas such as installation and maintenance, CCDs have understood the value and competitive advantage of maintaining ongoing relationships and exceeding expectations with customers and manufacturers.

In short, CCDs play an increasingly crucial role in strengthening the future competitiveness of the Western Red Cedar industry. They provide a vital and valuable link between both timber producers and timber users; an advantage that cannot be underestimated in a rapidly changing market where substitute products are competitive.

– Simon Cameron represents the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association. Founded in 1954, the WRCLA is the voice of the cedar industry and has members in 132 locations across North America.

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