PMC Building Materials opened in Marietta, Ga., in 2008, just in time for the arrival of the biggest recession the country had seen in generations. To thrive, it would need a niche beyond that of a traditional full-line lumberyard. It opted to make decking its specialty, and added its first major display in early 2010.
“The first few years, it was about the only thing that kept the doors open,” says Gregg Mizerak, senior VP.
The dealer opted for a multi-pronged strategy: to move the metro Atlanta market from generic treated wood to higher margin alternative materials, to establish solid relationships with distributors and manufacturers of all major brands of composite and PVC decking, and to forge an especially close and visible partnership with market leader Trex.
PMC’s branches in Marietta and Lawrenceville added massive outdoor displays and luxurious in-store deck design showrooms. Its PMCPros service connects homeowners to certified contractors who buy their supplies from PMC. Its Builders Club Rewards program incentivizes pros to spend big at PMC. Staff have become true outdoor living experts, who are constantly on the lookout for new business.
Once the economy started picking back up, PMC’s outdoor living business exploded. Year to year, decking-related sales grew 27% in 2016, 28% in 2017, 20% in 2018, 10% in 2019, and up 30% through the first eight months of 2020. Decking-related product categories now account for about 25% of PMC’s business. And PMC has become one of the largest Trex dealers in the country.
PMC received another boost last year, when the business was acquired by Luther Randall, owner of Randall Brothers, Inc., which has produced wood mouldings and distributed a full range of millwork products to the Atlanta area since 1885. Uniting the companies gives PMC enhanced web capabilities and greater access to the latest products from James Hardie, Therma-Tru, and other millwork vendors, while providing Randall Brothers with a strong foothold in decking.
The company is in the process of moving Randall Brothers’ Atlanta operation into a new facility that will incorporate the intensified focus on decking, including displays and a dedicated Deck Design Studio showroom similar to those at PMC’s Marietta and Lawrenceville locations. “PMC is still operating under the PMC Building Materials flag and Randall Brothers is still operating under the Randall Brothers flag, but we are one company and actively merging the business models and the cultures and marketing the two companies as one,” notes Mizerak.
The company continues to upgrade the showrooms and exterior displays at all locations. The Marietta Deck Design Studio has about 800 sq. ft. inside dedicated to decking and railing displays, not counting wall space, which promotes the less prominent lines. Outside, says Mizerak, “is easily double that square footage and we believe this display is the evolution of how to sell high-end wood alternative decking.”
The Lawrenceville, Ga., branch features a 650-sq. ft. Deck Design Studio and two impressive exterior displays. One is built with Fortress railing options and Fiberon for the deck surface—with a cut-away to show the Fortress Evolution steel framing underneath. The second exterior display, similarly sized at about 1,280 sq. ft., displays all of the decking and railing options the location offers. Since the displays are out front, homeowners and contractors can check them out on their schedule, 24/7.
PMC stocks ProWood pressure treated southern yellow pine from Universal Forest Products, in addition to most leading brands of alternative decking, such as Trex, Deckorators, AZEK, TimberTech, Fortress Building Products, and Fiberon. You’ll also find railings from the same deck manufacturers, as well as Digger and Intex, plus deck lighting, fasteners, and light-gauge steel deck framing from Fortress and Trex.
The displays, however, also boast amenities PMC doesn’t sell—landscaping, water features, artificial turf—to “anchor the decks,” stir customers’ imaginations, and drum up business for local contractors. Three companies—a landscaper, a pool contractor, and an artificial turf business—donated their time and labor to install them, and have been the recipients of countless referrals ever since.
PMC’s partnerships with vendors have helped make possible its burgeoning relationships with customers.