Case Studies

Impec Puerto Rico: Make Yourself at Home

  • Written by: Impec Puerto Rico: Make Yourself at Home
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Impec Puerto Rico (Impec) is a small chain of home improvement stores and construction suppliers based in Juncos, P.R. The company was founded in 1983, starting out as a plumbing and electrical supplier called PLOM-ELECTRIC Corporation. Over the last 30 years, the business has grown into what buyer/representative Linette Diaz calls, “A small, more personalized Home Depot.”

Gustavo Gonzalez, owner of Impec, promotes a personal atmosphere that spans from his relationships with his employees to the company’s relationships with clients and vendors. “He’s a really great boss,” Diaz says of Gonzalez. “He brings in soup for everyone; he eats with us at the lunch table every day.” According to Diaz, Gonzalez is always around the office offering help wherever he can. Diaz believes Gonzalez’s support boosts confidence in Impec’s sales, and swears that his friendly attitude is infectious.

Impec has one warehouse and two retail locations on the island, where the team deals with both commercial and private customers and sells everything including light bulbs, hammer drills or ceramic tile.

“It’s the type of business where we are really close to our customers,” Diaz explains. “Most of our clients keep coming back because they see us as friends.” The Impec philosophy is to make its customers feel at home when they walk into the store. “With some companies in this industry, you walk in and you feel lost,” Diaz continues. “Often there isn’t anyone around to help you find what you need. We want our clients to feel right at home. That’s always been our aim.”

Customer Collaboration

Impec is known around the island for its high level of customer satisfaction as well as its supply of hard-to-find finishes. The company is the only retail business in Puerto Rico selling American Olean tile, which has grown in popularity due to its chic appearance and durability. The highly capable team at Impec is dedicated to providing a customized experience, which has allowed the company to thrive. “Clients come in and we sit down with them,” says Diaz. “They tell us what they’re looking for, what they want to spend, and we show them all the options.”

Many customers are surprised to find that most of the employees at Impec are women. “It makes us stand out a bit as a construction supplier,” Diaz explains. “Our clients love that we not only help with decorative ideas, but most of the girls have extensive knowledge of plumbing and electrical systems.”

From selecting sink drains to lighting fixture decisions, Impec’s employees work with customers every step of the way to ensure clients find a product that fits functionally and aesthetically to a project.

Impec serves mostly the metropolitan area of Puerto Rico, but people who from smaller islands that surround the commonwealth also rely on Impec for materials, tools and expertise. Some of the company’s clients fly in from islands further out to do business with Impec due to the team’s esteemed reputation. Additionally, the retailer makes sales via e-mail, providing the same quality assistance available in-store.

A Retail Remodel

Much of the construction industry on the island has slowed down significantly during the recent recession, but the company is expanding its homeowner service to fit new needs of a changing region. Impec has pumped up its inventory of accessibility products and accessories, especially for bathrooms.

“We’ve set up an area in our store where our elderly or handicapped customers can find products better suited to their needs,” Diaz elaborates. “We have bathroom accessories like hand rails and specially sized bathtubs, many of the things that aid in the transition of aging.”

Many of these fittings are conventional and elegant. Diaz has found many younger people are buying the hand rails to use as towel bars; younger couples, particularly in their thirties, are remodeling bathrooms and taking accessibility into mind, according to Diaz. It is common in the region for elderly parents to move in with their children and families want to be well prepared.

Impec is starting to supply more materials and fixtures that feature green technologies. Gonzalez has joined up with an energy-efficiency initiative that promotes the transition to sustainable technologies like LED lights. Aside from its tough, attractive elements, the popular American Olean tile uses lots of recycled materials in the manufacturing process. Diaz has found that recycled components are something clients are starting to look for in materials.

Though clients travel near and far for the company’s expertise, Impec does face several challenges due to its geography, including extended shipping time and high rates for transporting materials. “In most of the United States, you pay little to nothing for shipping,” explains Diaz. “To get products out here it takes not just more money, but more time. If something ships out today, it could take three weeks between when it leaves the port and when it arrives here.” Rising oil and gas prices haven’t helped either.

Impec fortunately maintains close relationships with its suppliers, easing the struggle. The company has the option to shop around, but Diaz says there are certain people Impec plans to stick with because of reliability and fair pricing. The business endures because of the Impec team’s dedication to the company.

“Our boss doesn’t want us to worry about the economy,” says Diaz. “We all love this company, and the only thing that keeps us up at night is thinking about what we can do the next day to make it better. We keep going because we’re constantly thinking of new ideas.” Gonzalez’s philosophy of leadership has helped him build a devoted staff; and being nice really has paid off at Impec Puerto Rico.

Published on: March 16, 2013

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