Sixty Four Years of Success

Allied Building Products

The company grew over the decades, eventually becoming the nation’s third largest distributor of exterior and interior building products. Now, 64 years after its founding, Allied Building Products has more than 3,400 employees, a fleet of over 2,785 vehicles, and more than 195 locations throughout the United States.

The company has survived for over half a century because of its ability to diversify and evolve with the market, says CEO Bob Feury. The team has always been open to adding new products and new divisions as needed. “I think one of the core strategies for us has always been to seek balance in our business, to never be one or another of any one particular thing,” Mr. Feury explains. As a result, the company now carries over 85,000 different building products – and can meet the needs of virtually any customer, both residential and commercial. “They [the management] always instilled in us that you do whatever it takes to take care of a customer,” says CSMO Greg Bloom. “You try to never say no. In order to do that, you have to have an array of products that truly separate you from those you compete against.”

The strategy also sustained the company through the GFC. “When you look at how we were able to power through this recent downturn, it was really the balance and the diversity in our business,” Mr. Feury explains. “We weren’t dependent on any one piece of the business; that really helped us get through it quite successfully. When one piece of the business is slower, another piece of the business picks up for that.”

Allied Building Products continues to maintain its remarkable diversity. “Our business today is very balanced between new and RMI and between res and non-res, [as well as between] exterior products and interior products,” Mr. Feury shares. “It is a balanced portfolio.” The company’s exterior product line focuses primarily on roofing, siding, and windows, while the interior product line deals mainly with wallboard and acoustical ceilings.

The company’s employees have also been a driving force behind its success. “I would be remiss if I didn’t give all the credit to our people,” Mr. Feury insists. “From the beginning, Allied has always had a very strong family culture,” Mr. Bloom adds. “Our people are everything to us.” The company’s appreciation does not go unrealized; most employees stay on board for the long term. Even employees who came on board due to acquisitions have, as a general rule, stayed with the company. “We were able to acquire companies that had great teams of people, and most of them are still with us.”

“We have tremendous tenure in our company,” Mr. Bloom adds. “Well over half the company has been with us at least ten years. A huge portion of the organization has been here 20 years, we have many employees who have been here thirty plus years, and we certainly have had people hit forty years with us. The tenure of our people is a huge strength of ours.” This tenure is also evidence that Allied Building Products is a great place to work – and that the company provides employees with ample opportunities for advancement. Mr. Bloom offers himself as a prime example. “I’ve been here 32 years,” he says. “I started in the warehouse – and now I am the Chief Sales and Marketing Officer.”

Providing opportunities like the ones that Mr. Bloom has enjoyed is important to the company. “We invest quite heavily in our people,” Mr. Feury says. “We really believe in promoting from within and place a strong focus on development and creating opportunities. As a distributor, our asset is not our inventory or our equipment; it’s really our people. So it’s important to me that we continue to invest in them and put our money behind them.”

Putting employees first also improves customer service. “If we take care of our people, our people are going to take care of our customers,” Mr. Bloom points out. And taking care of both customers and vendors is crucial. “We realize that we can’t do what we do without our vendor partners,” Mr. Bloom explains. “And those relationships with our vendors allow us, in turn, to service our customers and provide what I like to call a relentless pursuit of excellence for our customer base.” This “relentless pursuit of excellence” applies to all customers, new and old, big and small. “We treat them all the same.”

The team also works hard to maintain a local presence that will support local customers. “We may be a national company, but it is a local business,” Mr. Feury explains. “So we want to be able to service their needs locally and to be as strong as we can in any given market.”

Safety is another foundational focus for Allied Building Products. “Safety comes first,” Mr. Feury insists. “It is a core value to us. Everything we do really begins and ends with the safety of all our employees.”

The company’s success was also bolstered when it joined forces with Oldcastle, the North American arm of the Dublin based industry giant, CRH. “CRH is one of the largest building materials companies in the world,” says Mr. Bloom. “Oldcastle is the largest building material manufacturer in North America. We are part of a great company.” Now that Allied Building Products is wholly owned by Oldcastle, “most of the distribution that is done through Oldcastle is done through Allied Building Products.”

Looking ahead, the team plans to continue to evolve with the market in order to keep supplying the products that customers want. “We are very focused on innovating, whether it is with various technologies that we can bring to our customers, or with a private label program,” Mr. Feury explains. “We are always looking to stay one step ahead of the industry wherever possible.”

One particular area of interest is green roofing, and the company is eager to increase its part in this movement. “Anything green is a positive,” Mr. Bloom points out. The sector remains relatively small for now, however. “While the green space continues to grow each and every year, it is still in the minority,” Mr. Bloom admits. But, he believes that the sector has significant potential. “Sustainability is extremely important to our industry. Green [roofing] is going to be very important moving forward – and we continue to move forward.”

The majority of the company’s green roofing business involves solar energy. Allied Building Products has partnered with LG to supply leading edge solar panels, which have seen impressive sales to date. “Solar continues to grow at a very rapid pace,” Mr. Bloom reports. Cost is still an issue, but government subsidies help maintain sales – for now. “You still have government help offsetting some of the cost,” Mr. Bloom explains. “As long as those subsidies exist, you will see solar continue to grow. The question is, what will happen if the money dries up? Putting on a solar roof system is extremely expensive compared to putting on a regular roof system.”

With a successful strategy in place for decades, the team is confident that Allied Building Products will continue to expand. “We are always looking to grow,” Mr. Bloom remarks. The current plan includes both organic growth and acquisitions and will involve locations where the company already has a presence, as well as places where the business has not yet put down a footprint. “We are on a measured, strategic growth plan now,” Mr. Feury summarizes. With 64 years of growth already accomplished, the company’s future expansion seems almost guaranteed to succeed.

September 23, 2017, 5:37 PM EDT

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