Builders Gypsum Supply Inc.: One of Houston’s Most Reliable Suppliers
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Kenneth Haude is the Houston, Texas, branch manager of Builders Gypsum Supply Inc. (BGS), a drywall/acoustic treatment supplies company with six additional branches active in markets including San Antonio, Austin and Irving. He will celebrate 25 years with the company in February 2013, which is not uncommon for the business. “Many of us have been here our whole adult lives,” says Haude. “We have a woman on staff who has been here 26 years, and a few guys who have been here for more than 30 years.”
Long-term employees are the backbone of the business, providing experience, expertise and local knowledge to the business’ many repeat clients. BGS serves several regional commercial and residential contractors, offering a diverse array of tools and materials for projects of all sizes. “People call us first because they know we’ll get the job done,” says Haude.
As far as niches go, Haude says his branch’s specialty since it was founded in 1979 has been pairing the right products with superior customer relations. “There are several of us in the area who do this,” he explains. “And we don’t really have products that anybody else doesn’t have. We just provide better service. That’s what we’ve built our reputation on.”
Allied Building Products Corp. purchased BGS in 2006, but Haude says his location was able to maintain the most important aspects of its business model. “They’ve really allowed us to keep that tradition of service alive,” he says.
Making the Best of a Tight Market
Like many businesses, BGS has had its challenges. “While the economy has been pretty bad across the country, it’s not as bad in Houston, so a lot of businesses have moved into our area and we’ve had to compete with that,” Haude explains. A greater number of similar businesses have tightened profit margins, but BGS has adjusted to keep up with its competitors. “We’ve been looking for new products to offset those low margins,” says Haude. Diversifying the company’s product offering has boosted sales.
Drywall continues to be BGS’ main product, though the supplier has also always offered acoustic ceiling products, i.e. tiles and grids, as well as insulation, metal studs and track, fasteners and several grades of plywood. “We offer all interior building products except paint and flooring,” says Haude.
BGS has also carried roofing products since after Hurricane Ike, which made landfall in the U.S. in 2008, and Haude says he would like to see the business expand even further into roofing products. “Allied is one of the largest roofing suppliers in the country,” he explains. “And BGS is Allied’s first representation in Texas.” Adding the roofing products and the Allied affiliation has further diversified the business, allowing contractors to source even more product from BGS.
On the Job
The company’s representatives are constantly working with contractors to promote their product. “We’re putting out bids nonstop,” says Haude. Regional suppliers have had to be more aggressive now that there is less room in the market, and so far BGS is holding its own in the race. Many of Haude’s clients work on large commercial projects like high-rise apartment buildings, airports, office buildings and more. “We’ve got two right now in the Galleria area,” he says. One of these developments includes a new apartment building and a hotel. “Two of them are being built by the same contractor that works out of Dallas, and we’re out there every day stocking materials,” reveals Haude.
Seeing his company’s products in the installation phase and after completion is always an exciting time for Haude and the team. During a big project on Bunker Hill, Haude photographed the progress. “All of the metal studs were still exposed,” he recalls. “It really showcased a lot of our product.” The business has supplied builders on projects at Reliant Stadium and the Hilton Hotel at Georgia Brown Convention Center.
Fueled by a proactive attitude, BGS continues to operate at full steam. “The competition has put some strain on business, but we’ve always been able to manage,” says Haude. New businesses to the area have lured some of the company’s key people, but Haude says many of them come back. The company strives to provide a positive working environment and its success in that area is apparent through its loyal employees. The Houston branch employs around 45 people, and these employees are the friendly, familiar faces that repeat customers have come to expect at BGS.
Drawing on an extended network of resources through its parent company, BGS continues to expand product lines and offer top-notch service to customers. “The brothers who founded this company were strong about service,” explains Haude. “They never said ‘no’ to people who needed something, and this company was built on that principle.” Builders Gypsum Supply Inc. always has been and, Haude says, always will be known for service, and this reputation will keep the company active as a new generation of employees celebrate decades of satisfied customers.
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