Case Studies

Construction Supply Inc.: Proud to Be Family Owned

  • Written by: Construction Supply Inc.: Proud to Be Family Owned
  • Produced by: Construction Supply Inc.: Proud to Be Family Owned
  • Estimated reading time: 4 mins

Construction Supply Inc. (CSI) started out as a small family-owned company providing the extra bit of personalized service that keeps customers coming back for more than just building materials. More than 55 years later, CSI remains family-owned and -operated, though the company’s selection has expanded from just a handful of product lines to a wide array of products from leading manufacturers. Throughout its history CSI continued to focus its energies on ensuring customers were supplied and supported long after the order was delivered.

“It’s CSI’s experience that sets it apart from competitors,” asserts Kurt Kollman, president of CSI. Kollman unofficially started working at CSI as a kid, lending a hand after school throughout his teen years. Eventually Kollman went off to college at Arizona State University, where he earned a degree in construction engineering before returning home to Fargo, N.D., and working his way up through CSI.

“I’ve been here 27 years now, so I’ve pretty much done every job here except for some of the accounting,” chuckles Kollman. CSI’s 11 professionals operate from headquarters and warehousing facilities in Fargo. CSI specializes primarily in acting as a wholesale distributor of products for Division 7 through Division 12, including roof hatches, doors, skylights and a wide selection of audio-visual equipment and floor mats. CSI also sells a selection of steel joists and metal decking in Division 5.

CSI supplies a wide variety of interior furnishings to suit a broad array of applications and budgets. The company offers an array of visual display boards, corner guards/handrails, flagpoles, traffic control devices, plastic and metal lockers, television brackets, window shades, window blinds, floor mats and many other products. CSI also stocks caulking compound, access doors, as well as both metal and plastic bathroom partitions, toilet partition hardware, fire extinguishers and the related cabinets, projection screens and toilet accessories to help clients that might be under a time crunch to finish a project.

Total Support

These types of products are often some of the last components to be installed on a project, meaning CSI employees can’t risk a late delivery. CSI aims to maintain a healthy inventory of products for quick turnaround times. However, if a special order needs to be placed, CSI will sound the call and order directly from the manufacturer. In both cases, the CSI team keeps close watch over the order from the moment it ships until the moment the customer receives the delivery, keeping communication lines open should delivery times need adjusting.

CSI’s focus on customer service has helped the team accumulate a loyal client following in addition to facilitating the company’s expansion over the years. CSI mainly supplies clients and projects in the Dakotas, Wisconsin, Missouri and Oklahoma. The team supplied and installed materials for the construction of the American Express Tower in Minneapolis, in addition to doing work for Oklahoma-based Norman Public Schools and many Baker Hughes and Halliburton buildings in western North Dakota. Over the years, CSI has supplied a number of clients based outside the Midwest, as well as supplying materials to projects as far away as Alaska, Washington and Oregon.

Finding a Balance

CSI expects the same reliability and attentive service from its own vendors. Kollman attests that the team at CSI has worked with the same steel joists and metal deck supplier since the early 1960s. The company looks at more than just selection when considering a new product line. “We need to know that their product fits within our own product selection, but we need a really strong reason to take that new line on,” asserts Kollman. “We need to know that company will be a true partner for us.”

These relationships strengthened in recent years as CSI buckled down to reorient itself in the wake of the economic downturn. The company managed to minimize cutbacks by expanding with installation services for the products it supplies. “A lot of contractors prefer to do the installations themselves, but every now and then we would have a client ask for a quote on the installation, so we decided to start extending that service a bit more,” adds Kollman.

Kollman hopes to continue growing the business in the next few years as the economy improves. “Things are definitely better than they were two years ago and we’ll just focus on maintaining our relationships with clients and vendors,” adds Kollman. In doing so, the team will focus its energies on simply providing a high level of personalized customer service that clients come to expect from the family-owned and -operated company, positioning Construction Supply Inc. to welcome a third generation of Kollman family members into the fold.

Published on: March 9, 2013

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