August 27, 2007
Inventory control got a lot easier for contractors and dealers last April when the internet-based business ConnectSource.com opened for business with the novel idea of selling steel framing connectors by the piece, not by the box.
“We are the first company out there to break boxes,” explained Jen Kauppila, manager of the privately held 25-employee company that promises quick delivery of virtually any quantity of thousands of different parts from its two warehouses in Atlanta, Ga., and Reno, Nev.
“In researching the marketplace we discovered that one very common problem that contractors often faced was what to do with the excess clips that resulted when they finished a job. This is a problem that we saw arise time and time again whether you were a one man shop or a huge multi-million dollar contractor,” Kauppila explained. “If a job called for 550 clips, and the clips only came in boxes of 500, then you had to buy two boxes, therefore resulting in 450 extra clips that you would stick on a shelf in your warehouse somewhere to simply collect dust.”
Speedy deliveryThe service, Kauppila said, in many instances allows a contractor to be more competitive during the bidding process, and once a construction project is underway, “we also allow the contractor to quickly source any last minute clips that he may need so that a job is not held up because he is ‘20 clips short.’ We offer overnight delivery which has proven to be most beneficial in numerous cases.”
For Mike Trent, purchaser for the Clearwater, Fla., yard of Gator Gypsum, a major supplier of building materials to commercial and residential contractors in the Tampa Bay area, ConnectSource.com has been a big boost for business.
“There are thousands of different clips and fasteners out there that we deal with and we don’t want to warehouse all of them,” Trent explained. “You might need 30 to 150 of one type of connector and 200 of another. A lot of manufacturers require you to buy a box load, 300 in a box. ConnectSource.com breaks cartons, which is nice.”
Trent said he also appreciates ConnectSource.com’s speedy delivery capabilities. “They give us quick service. Sometimes if we need a large amount they’ll put it on a pallet and ship by freight. With smaller quantities, they can ship by Fedex or UPS the next morning or next day.”
Daryle Loudermilk, outside salesman for Tucker Materials in Greenville, S.C., said the ability to “break boxes” when ordering from ConnectSource.com offers substantial savings to his customers. “I just got an order for clips for one of my customers, and we had to deal with breaking cartons. The customer needed 7 clips. These are pretty long deflection clips, 18-inches long and they come from the manufacturer in boxes of 25 and cost $6 or $7 apiece. You can see pretty soon we’re talking a lot of money here,” he said.
Loudermilk distributes products manufactured by Dietrich, Clark and Marino/Ware, and appreciates ConnectSource.com’s online cross-reference chart that simplifies ordering parts for complex jobs. It also has a search box where one can search for products by keyword or product code. “This can be for a connector that we currently carry or for another manufacturer’s code,” Kauppila explained. “If we don’t currently carry the clip for that manufacturer, you will be taken to the link for another equivalent product, or if an equivalent cannot be found, the customer will be taken to a page with a 1-800 number to call so that we further assist him or her. It may be that it is a specialty product that we can help to locate for the customer over the phone.”
Kauppila said she’s been delighted with ConnectSource.com’s progress. “Our growth has been very good and steady. All of the feedback that we have received has been very positive. Everyone has said how ‘they can’t believe that someone hasn’t thought of this sooner.’ These are the comments that keep me going and make me feel good about what I’m doing everyday.”