“Who’s gonna patronize a little bitty two by four kinda store anymore?”
– “Rock Island” lyrics from The Music Man
Willie Nelson’s On the Road Again is a reminder that in some industries – like the music industry – travel remains a big part of the job. As for wholesale lumber traders – not so much anymore. The evolution of communication tools has reshaped the marketing mix for lumber distributors. It has contributed to the shifting channels of distribution in play.
As a kid, I recall playing the role of Winthrop in a local production of The Music Man, in which professor Harold Hill made his personal sales pitch, travelling Iowa, with pronouncements of “You gotta know the territory!”. Today, annual conferences such as the NAWLA Traders Market in Chicago, the COFI Convention in Prince George/Kelowna, and the Global Buyers Mission in Whistler are experiencing a resurgence in attendance. Packed halls are where lumber buyers and sellers meet face-to-face. Even so, the personal customer visit offers uncommon opportunity. It’s why I’m looking forward to getting on the road again, to re-connect on the ground with Midwestern and Northeastern customers next week.