Bernie Ferrari, Vice President of Product Management and Marketing
Huttig Building Products, a Woodgrain Company Woodgrain purchased Huttig in May 2022. With the acquisition it now operates 32 distribution locations. Woodgrain is one of the leading millwork operations in the world and in addition to the distribution locations; manufactures mouldings, frames, doors and windows.
Q: How has marketing impacted your business?
A: As a B2B business, marketing has had a positive impact on our business in many ways. We utilize digital marketing to raise awareness and keep Huttig top of mind with our customer base and with prospective customers. We focus on brand and product awareness supporting the manufacturers who are key and strategic to our business. And we provide e!ective marketing materials, tools and displays to enable our sales team and our customers’ sales teams to grow sales and market share.
Q: What do you see as the biggest challenge to the industry and correspondingly the biggest opportunity?
A: Challenges and opportunities are ever-changing. Over the last two years, the industry has faced supply chain disruptions, allocation, labor shortages and more. Through it all, the industry continued to grow across all levels in the channel. More homes were built and more remodels completed. I believe the biggest challenge to the industry is fear, fear of the unknown, fear of economic uncertainty, fear of another pandemic. All of these things are real, but the last 2-1/2 years proved that our industry is resilient and it has always and will always drive the economy. We need to be smart, but we can’t let fear rule our decision making.
Q: What is the #1 thing that distributors or dealers need to understand about marketing today?
A: It never stops and it is always evolving, but in the end, it is kind of simple. We need to communicate to our customers what they want to hear, when they want to hear it and how they want to hear it. And we need to provide the tools needed to be a sales enablement partner. While it is simple to understand, it is complex to deliver.
Q: As technology and automation continue to advance, how does this impact your business?
A: Technology and automation are integral to keeping up and can be a great way to di!erentiate from the competition. The building product industry has been somewhat slow to innovate, as the customer base is made up of a mix of national pro dealers, regional players and old fashioned mom-and-pop single location operations. Finding solutions that work across that broad customer base is a challenge and the Huttig team is excited to now have the support, knowledge and experience of the Woodgrain team as we continuously work to improve technology and automation.
Q: What segment of your business has seen the most change over the past couple of years?
A: We have experienced tremendous growth in Huttig-Grip, our proprietary brand of fasteners. We developed Huttig-Grip from the ground up by assembling a team of industry experts tasked with innovating and solving the pain points that existed with other fastener product lines. Huttig-Grip fasteners has grown to become our fourth-largest sales category and our fastest growing. Looking forward, the future is bright and, as a Woodgrain company, we are excited about the opportunities to leverage vertical integration to deliver premier service, premium products and customer-driven solutions.