You have to give it to Canada’s Drywall Nation for its endeavors to bring drywall contractors from around the world the opportunity to meet one another and connect. The Sudbury, Ontario drywall subcontractor seemed most eager to meet its peers in the community during this year’s recent INTEX Expo, where Walls & Ceilings met its two founders, Brian Kitchin and Nick Aitchison. Drywall Nation is a drywall and taping company that specializes in custom drywall finishes, such as domes, coffered ceilings, groin vaults, crown molding and wainscotting. But what makes the company truly unique is that it runs an online community for drywallers and finishers to help share tips and tricks as well as share photos and videos of their own work.
Between Kitchin and Aitchison, the two have a combined experience of 20 years in the trade. The company re-branded its existing local business as Drywall Nation in March 2015 due to the online success of its brand.
“Me and Nick both started working in construction at early ages,” says Kitchin, who serves as Drywall Nation’s owner. “I started working part time for my next door neighbor when I was 16 years old hanging drywall. Nick started working in construction at an early age with his father and eventually transitioned into drywall for a few years before we formed a partnership together.”
Although the company only has eight employees total, Drywall Nation strives to be as broad and as different as possible within the wall and ceiling trade. The company specializes in drywall art and unique custom finishes, everything from dome ceilings to groin vaults, coffered ceilings, crown molding, wainscotting and Venetian plaster.
In regards to its other interest and brand: Drywall Nation is an online community for drywallers and finishers around the world. The brand started off as an online forum-based website, however, right around that time the company realized that people were turning more to social media platforms for information. So Drywall Nation quickly adapted and started to post more regularly on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. On the site, tips and tricks are shared, along with promotional videos for new products and techniques in the industry.
The company doesn’t like to think of its extended network as members/followers/subscribers but as one big community that is constantly evolving, adapting and learning from one another. On Facebook, the company has more than 17,000 followers; Instagram, a staggering 83,000 and YouTube is at approximately 10,000.
“Social media has helped us establish ourselves as a brand and has been an amazing outlet for sharing our photos and videos,” says Kitchin. “One of the reasons we're so popular is because of our videos, which have been viewed in the millions. It’s so easy to share, like and comment when everything is at your fingertips. Oftentimes, we’ve found that clients prefer seeing companies with successful social media platforms as it gives them reassurance that you’re qualified to do the work. It’s great to have content, photos and videos that your clients or contractors can browse through for inspiration and others can learn from, as well. It’s happened on several occasions that we’ve been awarded jobs due to our online portfolio, even though we were more expensive than our competition.”
When asked of the importance of having a website, Kitchin says that of course it can look very professional if done properly. However, in this age the company finds social media platforms to be just as effective.
“Websites are also a great way to engage your audience and lead them to your social media,” he says.
21st Century Growth
“We’ve been steadily growing every since we started and always have more work than we can handle,” says Aitchison, saying great opportunities just continue to line up. But manipulating the powers and advantages of online video has been the company’s real arsenal.
“YouTube was one of the first platforms we explored as we specialize in videography,” says Kitchin. “It’s essentially led to almost every opportunity that we’ve had come our way. We started off by filming one video of a taping product and from there we were contacted by a manufacturer asking us to produce a video for one of their products. We just kept filming videos and putting ourselves out there over the years and it’s opened up a lot of doors for us.”
At INTEX and other trade events, the Drywall Nation team was getting an eyeful and impressed by the new products. Kitchins cites Trim-Tex, Tytan, USG and Columbia Taping Tools offerings as those that the company use and are most impressed with.
“It’s great offering so many different finishes and designs to our clients as things don’t typically get too boring on our job sites,” says Kitchin. “We’re always challenging ourselves and pushing the limits of what we can do with drywall products. The most interesting aspect is learning and offering new products and designs that continue to challenge ourselves, and impress our clients.”