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Now that 2020 almost has a fork in it, building materials companies need to start planning for 2021 with the hopes that projects will be restarted and our interactions will return to some form of what they used to be.  Before we start accounting our “color of the year” and “trends to watch for” let’s reflect on what changes some building materials companies made in 2020 and which of those changes are here to stay. 


Looking at the Ladies

2020 was the year to recognize women for their achievements in their careers and at home, as many performed double duty balancing full-time careers with face-palming common core math homework and screaming “Get off YouTube.”  At CaraGreen, we recognized the women in our industry who have supported what we do and have shown true leadership and thoughtfulness during this challenging year. 

Read about Kate Roberts of Kirei, Nancy Busch of ISFA, and Sally Reis of Expanko here: caragreen.com/blog/entry/this-ones-for-the-girls-meet-the-women-of-building-materials 


Here to stay:  Rockstar Women

Voted Out: Glass Ceilings


Hi building materials, I’m big data

Big data always seemed to be the wheelhouse of the nerd herd and not the laggard building materials industry, which fancies itself more traditional and “in person” than online.  This year flipped that script and shoved us all behind screens and desks, trying every trick in the book to get someone to pay attention to us.  We likened this to a virtual crowd of boomers at a Springsteen concert screaming, pick me, pick me!  Hard to be Courtney Cox in the crowd. 

Enter big data.  We had to get creative and find new sources of information and leads on projects.  Platforms like ConstructConnect Insight and iSqFt provided invaluable insight on which types of projects were moving forward and when.  Using otherwise latent resources to mine these platforms helped build out a machine that drives and informs sales and marketing functions.


Here to stay:  Data, Dudes

Voted Out: Lame Duck Data Mining


Home Delivery

Services like Material Bank become lifesavers during the pandemic. This timely overnight sampling platform became the go-to for many designers before March of 2020, was invaluable during, and is likely to change product sampling as we know it going forward.  Early adopters have benefited from a less crowded design library, easily navigable online.  Now that designers got a taste of the good stuff, they are unlikely to want to be inconvenienced with perusing multiple manufacturers’ sites ordering samples in the hopes that they show up on time.  New services are arriving too, including Swatchbox, which is more targeted toward architects who are working in a BIM or Masterspec environment.  Expect to see these two services become commonplace for major brands in the next couple of years.  These platforms are approaching the area of conspicuous absence if you are not on them.  It is the pre-2020 equivalent of not showing up at a tradeshow when all of your competitors are there.   


Here to stay:  Sexy sampling

Voted Out: Sample library loungers


Hybrid Salesperson

Buy me Beers Bob just became Creative Kristine.  Salespeople are no longer being ushered in and out of lobbies and libraries, so they need to find new ways to reach customers without being caught up in the noise.  Leverage the creativity of your salespeople means they can be a critical part of content creation, and finding ways to give them a voice to their customers is imperative.  Whether they create DIY videos, fabrication videos, vignettes, or infographics for social media, it is important that salespeople have the ability to do more than just gladhand and drop off donuts.  The new skill set for salespeople should include communication skills and the ability to contribute and share content creatively.


Here to stay:  Killer content creators

Voted Out: Schmoozy sales reps 


New Year, New Lessons

Surviving 2020 was hard but we learned valuable lessons.  We have to be ever-present online and always relevant.  We have to do this by engaging in the platforms where designers and architects are sourcing materials and creating projects.  We have to be able to mine and analyze data to evaluate trends and areas of activity.   We have good people and we have to find ways to creatively get them out from behind the screen and give them a voice.   So let’s wash our hands of this year (20 seconds of course) and roll up our sleeves because 2021 is right around the corner. 

We are ready.


Care to share your 2020 survival tip? Send us an email here

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