No one likes to be left behind, especially in business or personal investments. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that savvy business owners and consumers should keep a constant eye on trends.
The post-frame industry has certainly seen its share of trends. In the early days, typical pole
building uses involved shelter for animals and farming equipment. However, over time, the
post-frame industry has morphed into a multibillion-dollar industry supporting a myriad of building
Building owners now look to this construction method for everything from large religious facilities to single-family homes and commercial projects in town and country markets.
One of the latest trends has been toward creating space that functions both as a “shop” and a “house,” appropriately coined as a “shouse.” While “shouse” applications are more common in rural markets, the term “barndominium” (a combination of barn and condominium) has also gained tremendous popularity in more urban parts of the country.
The demand for these types of high-end commercial and residential projects is propelling another
unexpected trend. Professional builders are leaving the once-popular regional manufacturers and
returning to national manufacturers to gain the quality materials, product selection, and support
necessary to satisfy this new breed of discerning customers. In some cases, they decide on their
own. After all, they interact directly with the manufacturer. However, in many situations, contractors are also now bringing their building owners into the conversation because they understand that supplier and material choices impact their customers for decades.
Let’s start with some background information. National manufacturers produce their products in large-scale manufacturing facilities. While each manufacturer and facility differ slightly, these spaces are often 150’ wide by several hundred feet long or about the size of a football field. Given the size and operating costs, most national manufacturers have several of these large-scale facilities scattered around the United States, and then they ship finished products to their builders and distributors.
Conversely, in some parts of the country, regional roll-formers operate in much smaller spaces, often as simple as a small shed or garage. They also focus on servicing a much smaller geographic area of customers (often 50 to 100 miles), hence the term “regional manufacturers.”
National manufacturers completed the vast majority of metal panel production for several decades, spanning from the 1970s through early 2000. However, as society became more impatient, the long-accepted lead-time of 1 to 2 weeks for national manufacturers to deliver products around the country became problematic.
In some cases, it was because end-users had become accustomed to next-day service from providers like Amazon® and simply didn’t have the patience to wait. Yet, in others, contractors themselves were hungry for a different solution that allowed them to get products more quickly. As a result, regional roll-formers began to spring up around the country. With a low entry cost into the business, their operations and business models look notably different from their national competitors.
It is essential to acknowledge that there are low, moderate, and high performers in both national
and regional manufacturer categories. While we’ve used the terms national and regional
manufacturers for simplicity, there are certainly occasions where generalization is too broad.
Realistically, you might find completely different quality and service levels between two regional companies or conversely even two national manufacturers when comparing them head to head. As with all generalizations, you should expect to find some gray areas, but the chances are that you’ll also find some consistent parallels. For example, you can routinely expect to see that regional manufacturers often have reduced financial strength than their national manufacturer counterparts.
Which manufacturer type is right for you? Chances are that you need to know a bit more before making that decision. This blog series and the companion e-book will look at eight different topics to see how national and regional manufacturers of metal roofing and siding panels compare.
We will explore
- product quality
- manufacturing differences
- depth of product offering
- service and support
- contractor and building-owner criteria.
Our intent isn’t to predispose you either way, but rather to provide background information and discuss features commonly found with each. Ultimately, our goal is to help you be more prepared to compare the options (and differences) in your local market.
Whether your role is that of a successful contractor, distributor, or someone looking to build the
project of a lifetime, this blog post series and the companion e-book are designed to educate you on the differences between regional and national manufacturers to help you decide which supplier type makes the most sense for you.
Feel free to contact one of our experts if we can answer any questions!
Since 1963, McElroy Metal has served the construction industry with quality products and excellent customer service. The family-owned components manufacturer is headquartered in Bossier City, La., and has 14 manufacturing facilities across the United States. Quality, service and performance have been the cornerstone of McElroy Metal’s business philosophy and have contributed to the success of the company through the years. As a preferred service provider, these values will continue to be at the forefront of McElroy Metal’s model along with a strong focus on the customer.