JB Wholesale Roofing & Building Supplies Inc.
Keith Jones founded JB Wholesale Roofing & Building Supplies Inc. (JBW) in 1979 in Chatsworth, Calif., which is approximately 25 miles north of downtown Los Angeles. After working for several years with suppliers who did not understand the needs of customers, Jones was determined to build a business based on relationships. Without any startup money, he began making transactions guaranteed with a handshake – the same philosophy that guides the company today. Over the years and even through major consolidation in the industry, JBW remains a customer-focused business, competing with national suppliers throughout southern California.
Jones is a natural hard worker and was an ironworker before being drafted. He served in Vietnam and suffered injuries in an explosion. “When I came back, I needed to do something to get my right arm working again,” he explains. “I started shingling and kept going along for a few years before joining up with a different distributing company. I founded my own a few years later because I knew I could better serve roofers.”
Dedicated to growth in the industry
Encouraged by the same dedication that helped Jones regain the use of his arm, JBW has grown from a single location to seven in the last 35 years. The team of around 130 professionals works out of offices in Chatsworth, Canyon Country, Carson, Lancaster, Pasadena, Torrance, as well as Ventura, Calif. The team serves commercial and residential roofers and contractors throughout the region and occasionally out of state.
Jones and his team have built a niche out of supporting the little guys. Roofing can be a capital-based business, giving larger companies a greater advantage especially after the economic downturn put so many small businesses out of work. Larger companies have scooped up the assets, leaving the remaining businesses struggling to finance even small projects. “A lot of our customers are just getting started,” Jones adds. “We try to help out businesses that have not established the credit to work with a national supplier.”
The company also strives to support small businesses through a changing market. With new construction still slow to recover after the recession, many of these businesses are turning a buck on innovative techniques to restore roof surfaces without performing a complete replacement. Jones and his team offer the materials necessary to perform this work at a competitive cost and follow the trends and needs of roofers closely to provide accordingly.
Staying ahead with innovative products
“The biggest thing right now is coatings, especially if people cannot afford to redo an entire commercial roof,” Jones explains. “We have seen the introduction of new and innovative coatings to extend the life of a roof and put off replacement. All of these coatings have built-in UV protection which California requires. The UV protection does a lot to cut energy costs for building owners and tenants.”
JBW has also started carrying and selling solar panels, helping contractors break into the growing market of sustainable energy. “Residential solar is getting more popular,” Jones says. “There are a lot of incentives for homeowners to invest in this kind of energy, depending on which state they are in. We have been supplying solar panels for about three years. Some of them are for commercial contractors, but around 70 percent is for residential work. We also sell a lot of them direct to homeowners.”
Innovation has been a driving factor behind the company’s growth. While Jones success can be measured in numbers, he says customer satisfaction is the best indicator of a job well done. “We have to retain our customers,” he explains. “Through the recession, the national suppliers were able to lower their costs in an attempt to push out the competition. We can’t afford to do that, but we can continue to set ourselves apart by listening to our customers and giving them what they need.”
Jones says he has noticed the construction industry picking up, which is a good sign for roofers all over the country. As the market grows steadily through the recovery, JBW is looking to expand. Over the next few years, Jones is looking for opportunities to break into new markets. The business expects to add a few more locations in order to serve a larger geographic area.
No matter where this growth takes the team, Jones remains determined to continue providing leading service. JBW has the capabilities, the experience and the resources to compete with the national companies, while retaining the tight-business structure that allows the team to make quick decisions and remain flexible. JB Wholesale Roofing & Building Supplies Inc. continues to stand out from competitors with customer-oriented service and all of the products in high demand across the market.
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