BLD Connection Magazine - Dec 2023/Jan 2024

Page 1


Are You a Leader of Impact? PLUS

BizCon Preview Brush Away the Sales Cobwebs Effective Job Descriptions

MAGAZINE STAFF Publisher Cody Nuernberg Editor Tim Dressen Advertising Sales Erica Nelson (763) 497-1778

ASSOCIATION STAFF President Cody Nuernberg Event and Communications Specialist Erica Bernards Education and Membership Assistant Mary Cary Regional Field Manager (Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin) Tony Cook Director of Events Jodie Fleck, CMP Director of Communications Melanie Hultman Director of Professional Development Connie Johnson Bookkeeper/Executive Assistant Diane Sass Regional Field Manager (Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska) Heather Summy BLD Connection Magazine is published bimonthly by BLD Connection, 701 Decatur Avenue North, Suite 105, Golden Valley, Minnesota 55427, (763) 544-6822. It is the official publication of the BLD Connection. Copyright ©2023 by BLD Connection. Materials may not be reproduced without written permission. Annual subscription fee is $30. POSTMASTER Send address changes to: BLD Connection 701 Decatur Avenue North, Suite 105 Golden Valley, MN 55427

BLD Connection Magazine December 2023/January 2024













13 14







2 BLD Connection Magazine December 2023/January 2024



[EDITORIAL] Time Again to BLD Connections It has been 60 days since we announced our rebrand to BLD Connection, and what a time it has been. From the official announcement and brand launch to the feedback and follow-up calls with our members and prospects intrigued by our changes, the BLD Connection team has been busy. Couple this with the start of our new membership year and our annual run of fall events and conferences, and it is safe to say we are all looking forward to the excitement – and rest – of the holiday season. When I begin to think about the holiday season, I first think about the time we get to spend with family and friends. For many, it is a time to reconnect after a busy summer and fall. Turkeys, football, trees, lights, candles, parties and so much more fill our lives with excitement, but the time to be with those closest to us is what this time of year is all about. For BLD Connection, the holiday season also begins the unofficial kickoff to our annual winter conferences – now known as BizCons. This is the time of year when we get to host you and yours for education, networking, product knowledge and a little time away from the day-to-day grind of the building material industry. Much like the website and our brand, the 2024 BizCon events have undergone a bit of change, with new formats being offered to ensure that your time and the value you receive from these annual events are maximized. We are also moving – or returning – to new venues in Bloomington, Minnesota (BizCon North) and Altoona, Iowa (BizCon South). Details are available on pages 9-12. You are not going to want to miss these outstanding events. Our BizCons have been reconfigured and enhanced to serve as regional rather than state events. Regardless of your home state or place of business, join us at whichever BizCon works best for your schedule. Vendors from all over the region will attend both events, and we would love for you to join us to network with them as they bring forward their newest products and offerings for 2024. Speaking of new events and positive changes, in November we were honored to host our newest event – the Nebraska Connection Conference. This event took the place of Expo Nebraska and was designed to bring forward quick, meaningful and lasting educational experiences and networking opportunities for all who attended. The conference was quite a success. Dealers and suppliers from Iowa and Nebraska enjoyed a full day with one another, and the feedback was phenomenal. Thank you to everyone who joined us in Omaha to connect and give us a chance to try something new. As new events go, it wasn’t perfect, but we sure made it fun. We’ve already gone to work making plans for the next Nebraska Connection Conference and can’t wait to build upon the success of this inaugural event. As we wrap up 2023, I hope your season is filled with laughter and cheer. Thank you for a fantastic year. Cheers to all of you, and cheers to 2024.

Cody Nuernberg, BLD Connection President 4 BLD Connection Magazine December 2023/January 2024


Chairman Brian Wendt Anita Supply Center, Anita Iowa

1st Vice Chairman Scott Enter wRight Lumber & Millwork, Buffalo, Minnesota 2nd Vice Chairman Adam Hendrix Chic Lumber Co., St. Peters, Missouri Treasurer Jennifer Leachman Leachman Lumber Company, Des Moines, Iowa Past Chairman Lynn Trask Spahn & Rose Lumber/Moeller & Walter, Reinbeck Iowa President/Secretary Cody Nuernberg Minneapolis, Minnesota


Iowa Director Brent Schneider Spahn & Rose Lumber Co., Dubuque, Iowa Minnesota Directors Pat Hegseth Scherer Bros Lumber Company, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota Brian Klimek Hilltop Lumber Co., Alexandria, Minnesota MLA Directors Brett Thorne Thorne Lumber Co., Chillicothe, Missouri Hatch McCray McCray Lumber & Millwork, Kansas City, Kansas Nebraska Director Mark Russell Millard Lumber Inc., Waverly, Nebraska North Dakota Director Samantha Nasset Crane Johnson Lumber, Fargo, North Dakota South Dakota Director Jason Meester Watertown Cashway Lumber Company, Watertown, South Dakota Wisconsin Director Nate Ehlen Sav-Rite Building Center, Neillsville, Wisconsin


Nate Hanson, Simpson Strong-Tie Chris Harding, Boise Cascade


Brett Hanson, Tri-State Building Center, Sisseton, South Dakota


President: Bill Brotherton, Wall Lake Lumber Company, Wall Lake, Iowa Vice President: Mike Bertrand, Lloyd Lumber Company, Mankato, Minnesota Treasurer: Lynn Trask, Spahn & Rose Lumber, Moeller & Walter, Reinbeck, Iowa

[ASSOCIATION CONNECTION ] Annual Mill Tour Takes Participants to The Adirondacks and Northern New York In the heart of the picturesque Adirondacks and the scenic landscapes of Northern New York, BLD Connection hosted its 2023 Mill Tour. From Sept. 24-28, 2023, 36 active and retired lumber professionals and their spouses embarked on an unforgettable trip filled with education, camaraderie and breathtaking beauty. This year’s Mill Tour was a five-day excursion that took participants to various captivating locations, each offering a unique glimpse into the history of lumber and forestry. The group learned about forestry and conservation while visiting the Museum on Blue Lake, Paul Smiths College Forestry Department, Saratoga Tree Nursery and Hanford Mills Museum. These tours helped attendees gain a deeper understanding of milling and sustainability, and provided some

historical perspective to our industry. The group also got to enjoy the natural beauty of Upstate New York by hiking at the SUNY-ESF Adirondack Interpretive Center, taking a gondola to the top of the Olympic Ski Jump Complex in Lake Placid, visiting the historic Van Ostrande-Radliff House and exploring Saratoga Springs. They finished the tour by stopping at Fly Creek Cider Mill for refreshments and had some time to explore Albany before heading home. Planning has already begun for the fall 2024 Mill Tour, which will likely be in the Pacific Northwest area. The exact destination and details will be released in early 2024. If you’d like to receive updates on these tours as they become available, contact Jodie Fleck at (763) 595-4058 or to get on the interest list or ask questions.

Hanford Mills Museum and waterpowered sawmill reflecting off the Mill Pond in East Meredith, New York.

Forester discussing various seedling varieties at the Colonel William F. Fox Memorial Saratoga Tree Nursery.

Participants gathered in the early morning sunshine to listen to the foresters at the Colonel William F. Fox Memorial Saratoga Tree Nursery. 6 BLD Connection Magazine December 2023/January 2024

A Historic Albany Foundation representative welcomed the group to the Van Ostrande-Radliff house and restoration project – the “oldest building in Albany.”

BLD Connection Events DECEMBER

Dec. 5-6 Sales Development Workshop Kansas City, Kansas Dec. 5-7 Estimating 1-2-3 Roseville, Minnesota Dec. 11-12 Blueprint Reading & Material Take-Off Coralville, Iowa

Dec. 14-15 Blueprint Reading & Material Take-Off Omaha, Nebraska Dec. 19 Market Watch Online

Jan. 23-25 Estimating 1-2-3 Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota


Feb. 6-7 BizCon North Bloomington, Minnesota


Feb. 21-22 BizCon South Altoona, Iowa

Jan. 9-11 Estimating 1-2-3 Madison, Wisconsin

Dec. 13-14 Sales Development Workshop Brooklyn Park, Minnesota

Jan. 17-18 Yard & Delivery Managers Workshop Jefferson City, Missouri

Dec. 13-14 NextGen Networking Group Meeting Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Jan. 23-25 Classic Roundtable Owatonna, Minnesota

For complete details, registration and a complete list of BLD Connection events, visit

BLD Connection Magazine December 2023/January 2024


[HR CONNECTION ] By Rikka Brandon

Crafting an Effective Job Description The hiring process requires deliberate clarity and precision. A well-crafted job description plays a pivotal role in aligning your business needs with the skills and experience of potential hires.

Step 1: Determine Business Needs Creating an effective job description begins by identifying the specific need the new hire will fill. Consider the actual needs of the business. Will your business benefit more from a full-time or part-time, year-round or seasonal employee? Focusing on these aspects ensures the new hire can provide ROI.

Step 2: Establish Clear Goals Clarity in defining expectations, setting activity targets and establishing performance goals is imperative. For example, if you’re hiring a sales executive, you might set an activity target of 20 sales calls per day and a performance goal of increasing sales by 15% in a year. Clearly communicating these goals to a potential hire ensures alignment and sets the stage for a successful relationship.

Step 3: Define Required Skills, Experience and Education Determine and outline the necessary skills, experience and education needed for the role. This helps to narrow down candidates during the resumereviewing stage. For instance, if the job requires managing digital campaigns, key skills might include proficiency in online marketing tools and a degree in marketing or a related field.

Step 4: Consider Intangibles and Company Culture Assessing personality traits and work styles that align with your company’s culture can be as important as a candidate’s qualifications. Evaluate intangible characteristics for a harmonious fit within your team. For instance, does the candidate show a tendency to be a good team player and display a continuous improvement mindset?

Pro Tip: Balancing Job Responsibilities Taking into account the individual strengths and weaknesses when defining tasks within a job description is crucial. For example, a sales executive strong in building new client relationships may not excel in detail-oriented tasks. Balancing job responsibilities according to natural abilities negates the false expectation of a single person excelling in all areas. Understanding the distinction between a job description and a job ad is fundamental. While a job description provides a clear understanding of the role’s daily responsibilities and protects the company, a job ad is designed to attract and engage potential talent. As you create your job description, maintain a professional and informative tone, clearly and concisely encapsulating the necessary information. Following this guide, the journey of creating an effective job description becomes a lot smoother. Rikka Brandon is a leading recruiting and hiring expert in the LBM industry. She’s the founder of Building Gurus, a boutique training, consulting and executive search firm for building products manufacturers and distributors. She’s also the creator of Hire Power, an on-demand training for recruiting and hiring in the building products industry. If you’re interested in working with Rikka, schedule a call at Read article #1 in this series from Rikka, “Overcoming the Experience Gap,” in the November 2023 edition of BLD Connection’s Material Matters e-newsletter.

8 BLD Connection Magazine December 2023/January 2024

BLD Connection Magazine December 2023/January 2024


10 BLD Connection Magazine December 2023/January 2024

BLD Connection Magazine December 2023/January 2024


12 BLD Connection Magazine December 2023/January 2024

[SAFETY CONNECTION ] By Melissa Olheiser, OECS

Preventing Winter Slips, Trips and Falls We can’t avoid the challenges winter weather brings when dealing with icy sidewalks, parking lots and pathways that can lead to slips, trips and falls. Each year, countless injuries occur due to winter-related incidents. Many of these are avoidable if we slow down and take time to prepare for the potential hazards associated with winter weather. As we get into the heart of the winter season, here are a few reminders to consider to reduce slip, trip and fall injuries. • Wear proper footwear. Invest in nonslip, high-quality boots to help maintain stability on icy surfaces. • Clear pathways. Promptly clear walkways and parking lots of snow and ice. When shoveling snow, use proper body mechanics to avoid straining your back and to reduce the risk of falling. Don’t rush; take your time. Spread salt and sand to provide better traction. • Install adequate lighting. The shorter days of winter make it challenging to see potential hazards due to increased darkness. Install additional lights along walkways or install motion-activated lights in dimly lit areas. Carry a flashlight to enhance visibility and reduce the risk of slipping or falling. • Install anti-slip mats at entryways or high-traffic areas to provide additional traction and absorb moisture. • Slow down. Shuffle your feel like a penguin when walking across parking lots or pathways. This gives you better balance and control to reduce the risk of slipping or falling. Whether you love or despise winter, you can prepare, take your time, be

alert and survive the winter season so you can enjoy spring. Contact OECS, BLD Connection’s

preferred OSHA safety consultant, at (763) 417-9599 for more information.

BLD Connection Magazine December 2023/January 2024


Are You a Leader of Impact?

by Joe Schmit

14 BLD Connection Magazine December 2023/January 2024

If there were a going away party tonight for one of your co-workers, who would the most people show up for? We researched organizations of various sizes looking for this individual. We did not always find this person in the usual places. It wasn’t always the person who sat in the corner office. Sometimes, it was the person who cleaned the corner office. This person was your CIO – your Chief Impact Officer. They care about people, connect with people and are happier, healthier and more productive because of it. If you want to be a leader of impact, you need to be more aware and intentional with your impact in all interactions. In today’s competitive market, recruiting and retaining your best employees are issues in 90 percent of organizations. The elite businesses develop compassionate leaders who look for ways to let their teammates know they care. These organizations make culture their competitive advantage. Our research uncovered what I call the “Silent Impact” superpower, the ability to make the biggest impressions without trying to be impressive. “Silent Impact” is the title of one of my books because we make an impact in everything we do, everything we say, how we act and how we react. That impact can be positive, and it can be negative, too. Legendary Minnesota Vikings coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer Bud Grant was known as a masterful leader. Before Bud died, I had a long conversation with him about leadership. He said that, first of all, he got to know what players could do athletically so he could put them in situations where they would have the best chance for success. Then, he worked hard at getting to know his players to find out what made them tick. Every player had different motivations, values and purpose. He learned that some players needed discipline behind closed doors, while other athletes needed to be yelled at

in front of the team to get them going. He said his players had to know that he believed in them even when they did not believe in themselves. You are not running a football team, but you may be leading a team where everyone needs to know their role and why that role is important to the team. Everyone needs to know that you personally care about them. That is the secret to becoming a leader of impact. The results will ensure that everyone on your team will want to be there, strive to be productive and feel valued. When you are more aware and more intentional with your impact as a leader, you will notice the difference, and the results will impact the bottom line. It’s Silent Impact, but your message is being heard loud and clear.

Joe Schmit is an award-winning broadcaster, community leader and popular keynote speaker. He joined KSTP-TV in 1985 and has won 18 Emmys from the National Television Academy. He was also honored with the Emmy’s Silver Circle designation for extraordinary contributions to the television industry. As a speaker, Joe was inducted into the Minnesota Chapter of the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame in 2019. At his BizCon North opening general session on Feb. 6, 2024, in Bloomington, Minnesota, Joe will help attendees become more aware and intentional with their impact on each other, which is a game-changer for company culture and personal growth.

BLD Connection Magazine December 2023/January 2024


Brush Away the Sales Cobwebs by Mike McDole Every year from 2009 to 2021, U.S. housing starts rose. For many contractor salespeople, that meant an entire book of business that allowed them to “just sit there” and watch the orders flow in. Starts leveled out in 2022, and as of September 2023, they’re down about 8% year over year. Combined with deflation in commodity pricing, many dealers are experiencing a decline in gross margin dollars and board footage shipped. Most housing analysts say starts will fall further in 2024. Most also say that demand for housing is so strong that any downturns in the foreseeable future are likely to be shallow and short-lived. That’s good news. But in the meantime,

salespeople need to hone their prospecting skills. They need to learn prospecting skills if they’ve been in the position for less than eight or 10 years. You can’t blame them for being rusty. Until this year, most have had a difficult enough time keeping up with the onslaught of orders. Even if they had the desire to prospect for new business (which they usually didn’t), they didn’t have the time. Now is the time. There is more to prospecting than simply knocking on doors. It’s a process that starts with identifying potential customers and opportunities to grow your business. Everyone understands that, but not everyone in the LBM industry knows how to do it in the real

16 BLD Connection Magazine December 2023/January 2024

world. Many salespeople dread prospecting, and very few love it. It takes self-confidence and a thick skin because you’ll hear “no” a lot. But self-confidence and a thick skin aren’t magic – they just take practice. You can increase your chances by learning as much about prospects and their businesses before you first contact them. Visit their projects and look for things you can compliment them on, such as quality framing or trim work. Also, look for things you can help them improve. For example, if you see piles of material waiting to be returned, you might make the point that your customers comment about how accurate your takeoffs are. Most people

like to talk about themselves. If you can get prospects talking about their business, it opens the door for further conversation. Referrals are often the best way to get your foot in the door with a prospect, so you’ll want to spend time with the trades on a prospect’s job site – not just the framers either. Talk to all the subs. Even small talk will help your image with them. Plus, they can provide good information about the general contractor – for example, whether they pay their bills on time, how easy they are to work with, or how well-organized they are. One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that too many salespeople talk in generalities. You may have excellent service, but every lumberyard says they have excellent service. If you’re going to brag about yourself, you need stats to back it up. For example: • “94.8% of our deliveries are on time and in full.” • “We guarantee delivery of stock items by 8:00 a.m. if you call the order in by noon.” • “We guarantee that we’ll pick up returns within 48 hours.” At BizCon-North in Bloomington, Minnesota, on Feb.7, 2024, and BizConSouth in Altoona, Iowa, on Feb. 22, 2024, I will present ways to prospect for home builders, light commercial contractors and remodeling contractors. I will also discuss ways to grow your “wallet share” with existing customers as well as tricks and techniques that make prospecting easier, whether you’re chasing new customers or looking to get existing customers to buy more.

Firing-Line LBM Advisors in 2021 and has dealer clients throughout the U.S. McDole’s consulting expertise is in sales management, increasing sales profitably, prospecting, bottom-line

improvement, metrics to improve efficiency and more. He writes regular columns for a trade magazine and has spoken at numerous conferences.

Mike McDole has been in the pro-dealer industry for more than 40 years. After 20 years with National Lumber Co. in New England, including the last 12 as senior vice president, he started BLD Connection Magazine December 2023/January 2024


18 BLD Connection Magazine December 2023/January 2024

[MEMBER CONNECTION ] Hilltop Lumber Earns National Recognition As Independent ProDealer of the Year Hilltop Lumber, a BLD Connection member with locations in Alexandria, Glenwood, Ottertail and Park Rapids, Minnesota, accepted the 2023 Independent ProDealer of the Year Award at the upcoming ProDealer Industry Summit in Kansas City, Missouri, Oct. 4-6, 2023. “As a family-owned company, we know the importance of building strong partnerships with our customers and contractors,” said Brian Klimek, Hilltop Lumber owner and general manager. “Our purpose – to help plan, supply and deliver dreams – along with our core values have always been at the forefront of everything we do and the main reason for our success.” The annual Independent ProDealer of the Year Award, selected by the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association and the editors of Hardware & Building Supply Dealer magazine, is designed to recognize a high-performance independent lumberyard (no more than five locations) with a commitment to values consistent with the lumber and building material industry, excellence in customer stewardship, devotion to its employees and a positive workplace culture. “The core values at Hilltop Lumber are ethics, team player, excellence, change and having fun,” Klimek said. “Our team has the desire to be the best they can for our customers while always celebrating successes and enjoying what they do. Thank you to those who nominated Hilltop

Lumber for Independent ProDealer of the Year, and to the NLBMDA and HBSDealer for recognizing our team.” Congratulations to Brian and the Hilltop Lumber team on this well-deserved honor.

Brian Klimek accepted the award on behalf of the Hilltop Lumber team. Photo courtesy of HBSDealer.

BLD Connection Magazine December 2023/January 2024


[ADVERTISERS] Display Ad Index Alpine Truss LLC


Bayer Built Woodworks Inc.

15, 17

Bayer Truck & Equipment


Central Nebraska Wood Preservers


Central States Manufacturing Inc.


Circle K


Data Business Equipment Inc.


The Design Connection


Federated Insurance

Inside Front Cover

Forest Products Supply


Hit Your Target with BLD Connection Magazine Advertising Reach 1,850 independent lumber and building material retailers throughout Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North

Money Matters Accounting Solutions

Belly Band

Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Upper



Michigan. Advertise with BLD Connection Magazine to build

Precision Equipment Manufacturing


Starwood Rafters


Thermo-Tech Premium Windows & Doors


West Fraser

Outside Back Cover

20 BLD Connection Magazine December 2023/January 2024

brand recognition and to help generate sales leads. Contact Erica Nelson at (763) 497-1778 or

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.