Jesse Joyce, vice president of his family’s Middle Tennessee Lumber Co., has turned to the internet to acquire market knowledge and build international sales.
The web, he adds, has also helped him maintain his family-owned company’s focus on a “Made in Tennessee” image and product strategy.
“We take pride in ‘Made in Tennessee’ products,” he says, adding that many of Middle Tennessee’s competitors focus on imported products like laminated flooring.
Joyce, who has been involved with Middle Tennessee Lumber since he was a kid, has taken the lead in recent years in developing a web presence. The company operates its own websites at MidtnLumber.com and MidtnLumberWoodSupply.com, where visitors can view products and video content and log in to place orders. It also sells through multiple marketplaces, with customers—many of them distributors who sell to professional contractors—throughout the United States and Canada.
The lumber supplier’s web fortunes began to strengthen early last year, Joyce says, after it became one of the first companies to sell over the newly launched BuildDirect.com marketplace. BuildDirect provides exposure, selling features and analytics on market demand that has helped Middle Tennessee post more than $1 million in sales on the marketplace last year, with sales on the marketplace trending this year close to $2 million, Joyce says.
One of the main advantages BuildDirect offers, he adds, is the ability to see continuously updated data on the number of times his company’s products are viewed on the marketplace, how many times shoppers place them into a shopping cart, and how many carted items go on to be purchased. In addition, Middle Tennessee can review and analyze data on the types of wood products that are selling in particular markets.
“It helps us plan investments in production of particular products,” Joyce says.
For example, when he noticed growing demand for Hickory-style wood flooring—a type with a rustic look on wide boards—in San Francisco, he was able to convince a distributor in San Francisco to order more Hickory flooring. “That opened up my eyes to things I didn’t realize we could do with data,” he says.
“I talked to that distributor, and said ‘these people are purchasing Hickory in your back yard, and you need to get in the game,’” he says. “Now he asks me if there’s anything else he should be selling.”
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