Case Studies

Building Products Plus Inc.

Manufacturing and distributing treated wood products for more than 20 years

Beginning in 1993 as a wholesale distributor of treated wood products primarily for the marine industry, Building Products Plus Inc. (BPP) dba American Pole & Timber has grown into a manufacturing company. Located in Houston, Texas, BPP produces structural components for industrial applications.

Co-Founder and president of BPP, Dorian Benn, decided to alter the direction of company for multiple reasons. “One reason was our customers were requesting that we start providing this service,” says Benn. “Another was that we were adjusting with supply and demand in this economy.”

The wooden components produced by BPP will often be used in the marine or agricultural industries to construct a bridge, dock or pier. BPP also produces timber trusses and is capable of providing engineer-stamped timber truss drawings in all 50 states.

The company also builds what are called “shipping saddles.” These products consist of timbers that are fabricated into structures used to support a large pressure vessel for transporting. “Another product we manufacture is called ‘stop logs’,” says Benn. “Stop logs are like water gates. They lower and raise allowing control of the amount of water which passes through channels.”

In addition to the many products and services provided by BPP, the company is also capable of producing plastic-coated wood. This product is ideal for marine applications and protecting against wood-borers. “When we encase a portion of a piling in this with this poly-urea product it creates an excellent protection from marine wood-borers,” explains Benn. “It works so well against wood-borers because it actually tricks them into thinking it isn’t wood and they will not attack it.”

Accepting every challenge

BPP has the willingness and capability to take on any challenge the company is presented with. Benn refers to a project recently completed in the Caribbean. “It was a cathedral in Antigua,” says Benn. It was a 200-year-old structure that was built of pine and ridden with termites. We have been able to reproduce for them the wooden components of the structure. We built some trusses for them and we’re supplying them with hardwood flooring. We’ve even built them a sample pew so they will be able to duplicate what they originally had.”

When a four-alarm fire ripped through a historical warehouse district in San Francisco in 2012, the famed Pier 29 suffered $2 million in damage. Among the destruction, 17 timber trusses were heavily compromised. The site of the fire was slated to be the center of The America’s Cup Village when the famous boat race was scheduled to take place there the following year. BPP was prepared to restore the historical structure.

“The trusses that needed to be replaced were very old and stood about 70 feet,” explains Benn. “They put out a bid in search of a company that could build exact replicas of the trusses as they were concerned with historical restoration of the structure. We were awarded the job and later discovered that we were the only company that placed a bid to build the replica structures. Every other company that bid on the job was not able to perform it without using modern components.”

Diversification

BPP has proven its strength and ability to adapt. During the recession, many companies were faced with adversity. While some businesses conducted mass lay-offs, others were forced to shut down completely. It was at this time that BPP changed direction from concentrating on wholesale and began to focus on manufacturing. “The wholesale business really cut in half for us when the recession hit,” says Benn. “We decided to focus on manufacturing because the margins are better.”

All businesses have various ways of measuring success. Other than the bottom line, many companies may examine growth at the end of the year while others may look at dividends from investments. BPP measures integration into niche markets. “We measure our movement into commercial, industrial and marine construction niches,” says Benn. “We are also very focused on the manufacturing of trusses, gun barrels and industrial wood products. Every month we are looking to see how much of these products we have moved.”

With a passion for the industry, Benn takes pride in the fact that his company creates opportunities for his employees to be successful. “This is a place where people come to work and have the opportunity to be creative and enjoy themselves,” says Benn. “We always have new projects going on and there is a research and development aspect of the job that I absolutely love.”

Looking ahead

With a plan for growth in the near future, Benn is interested in devising a plan for the company to continue its products and services on a larger scale. “We are going to find out if all these things that we do are as scalable as we think,” says Benn. “We plan to take the products that we are making and the methods that we are using and scale them up to a point where we can sell twice as much in two to three years from now.” With the expertise and will to accept every challenge, the sky is the limit for Building Products Plus Inc. dba American Timber & Pole.

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