FBM Wholesale Builders Supply
- Written by: Molly Shaw
- Produced by: Sean O'Reilly
- Estimated reading time: 5 mins
Since 1989, FBM Wholesale Builders Supply (WBS) has helped contractor customers get the ball rolling on projects of all sizes and shapes. With five warehouse locations serving Pittsburgh and Greensburg, Pennsylvania, as well as Akron, Youngstown and Cleveland, Ohio, WBS stocks a range of building products from industry-leading brands.
The company also operates a fleet of crane boom trucks and flatbeds that deliver materials directly to jobsites. Mike Fenello, general manager of WBS, says this is all part of the company’s effort to jump through hoops for its customers. “Everyone says they have good service, but that’s an overused term,” he says. “We really jump through hoops for our customers; whether it’s delivering the product quickly to the job or just turning around a material quote so their bid can be completed, we go above and beyond.”
Joining a leading nationwide network
A reputation for high-quality products backed by reliable service has allowed WBS to expand, sprawling across five locations with 95 employees. “The company was originally founded by John Golem,” says Fenello.
Golem, who was a contractor by trade, built a culture at WBS centered on the needs of contractors. His mantra was: “We must have the latest labor saving products in stock to help our contractor customers build projects.”
“He preached this,” says Fenello. In May 2014, WBS came under new ownership. “We were purchased by Foundation Building Materials (FBM), a leading California-based national supplier with 73 locations across the country,” says Fenello.
FBM’s level of service is in line with the way WBS does business, making the two companies a great match for a partnership, says Fenello. “FBM’s goal has always been to be the best building materials company in the industry,” he adds. “Now our contractors in Ohio and Pennsylvania can travel with their customers and do jobs in other states receiving the same quality service from one of the other FBM distribution branches.”
FBM was founded by Ruben D. Mendoza and two partners with a combined 60 years of experience in the building materials industry. “We’ll go above and beyond to service our customers and we’ll work as a team to accomplish our goals,” says Mendoza, president of FBM, in an open letter from the company. “As we grow, our principals will not change. We believe in our strategy and will work hard to be the company of choice in the areas we serve.”
Now under the FBM umbrella, WBS is furthering the same mission. “We measure success on the loyalty of our customer base and over the years we have garnered many longstanding customers, some we’ve been working with since the beginning, in some cases doing business with sons and grandsons of the men who we started partnering with years ago” adds Fenello.
As a specialty distributor WBS stocks a plethora of interior building products, but the company’s core products are drywall, steel framing and USG acoustical ceiling panels and grid systems. “Our position is operating as an interior specialty distributor, focusing on products that builders, general contractors and subcontractors are looking for,” explains Fenello. “We will sell to anyone, even the DIY remodeler, but our target customers are contractors.”
WBS’s expertise in commercial construction jobsites, as well as a huge inventory of USG ceiling tile, grid, metal studs, gypsum drywall, insulation and specialty lumber makes the company a preferred supplier to general contractors, subcontractors and building owners throughout northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania.
WBS also supplies insulation, FRP panels, compounds, plaster, fasteners, windows and doors, closet shelving, sound boards and many other products. The company prides itself in ensuring it has what contractors and builders need in stock, on time and in enough quantity to get the job started and to keep people working.
Exclusive distribution partnerships
For Fenello, who started in the building supply industry fresh out of college with USG, things have come full circle. “USG, also known as United States Gypsum Corporation, is a leading manufacturer of construction materials, most notably drywall, joint compound and ceiling tile,” says Fenello. “When I got out of college a USG drywall manufacturing plant in Oakfield, New York, was hiring a marketing person and that’s how I got started in the industry.”
Today, WBS is an exclusive distributor of USG acoustical ceiling tiles and grid systems. USG ceilings offer a higher level of performance, reliability and design flexibility, made from LEED qualified high-recycled-content mineral fiber, fiberglass and cast spung slag.
“WBS has been a distributor of USG ceiling tile for more than a decade and our team members are experts in acoustical ceiling questions and ceiling tile needs,” adds Fenello. “We can help our customers with ceiling bids, samples and literature, or connect them directly to a USG architectural specification team.”
USG mineral fiber ceiling tiles offer a wide range of texture and acoustic performance, deploying high-performance X-Technology for superior acoustics and light reflectance. Cast, fiberglass and gypsum ceiling tiles from USG are durable and resist scrapes commonly caused by accessing the ceiling plenum.
This product is well suited for hospitals, schools, restaurants and most long-term commercial construction applications. “If noise reduction is a concern, USG Halcyon fiberglass ceiling tiles offer the best in acoustic performance,” adds Fenello.
Supplying landmark projects
Furthermore, many USG ceiling tile products are available with a special patented treatment, called ClimaPlus. This bioacoustic treatment resists the growth of mold and mildew while providing sag resistance in high-humidity areas.
“WBS supplied USG mold-resistant specialty interior ceiling tiles and drywall to the Cleveland Clinic Heart Center project in 2008,” says Fenello. “At the time of construction this project was one of the top 25 largest health care projects in the country.”
In Akron, Ohio, WBS supplied a range of building materials for the University of Akron’s brand new InfoCision Stadium at Summa Field. “We supplied this major football stadium project in 2010,” adds Fenello.
WBS has also played a role in a 10-story high-rise housing project at the University of West Virginia, the FBI building, and has supplied materials for a large portion of the Westinghouse corporate headquarters and recently played a role in the UPMC Mario Lemieux Penguins practice facility in Cranberry, Pennsylvania.
A loyal following
Keeping such a massive stock of product and finding the quality labor to fill orders can be a bit of a challenge for WBS. “We offer the extra level of service on the delivery side with a fleet of boom crane trucks and flatbeds to get product to contractors on the job,” says Fenello. “Labor is one of our biggest issues because we need a large team of people that want to work, from handling material to driving trucks.”
But Fenello says WBS has managed to rise to meet the challenge, continuously jumping through hoops for customers and meeting their needs with a great existing team. “Our people are our greatest asset with many of them bringing over 20 years of experience in the industry; they are really committed to helping our customers build their projects,” adds Fenello.
A major key performance indicator for WBS is repeat business. “We really measure success on the loyalty of our customer base,” he says. “WBS has many contractors that have been buying from us for 10 or 20 years -some since the very beginning. It’s this customer loyalty and long-term relationships that make our business.”
In the construction industry time is money and getting jobs moving and keeping them moving with a steady material supply stream is FBM Wholesale Builders Supply’s claim to fame and the reason customers keep coming back.
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