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Learn how a relationship with Sherwin-Williams can add value for contractors growing their business.

Running a successful protective concrete business is not an easy task. It requires technical skill, marketing savvy and good customer relations. However, smart business owners also cultivate a network of trusted partners that can make their lives easier by spotting new opportunities, solving job-site problems and exceeding customer expectations.

With that in mind, we asked Bob Brophy, a national account executive based in Tampa, Fla., and Mike Usterbowski, a Chicago-based professional coatings representative, to give a quick overview of areas where contractors can maximize value from their relationship with Sherwin-Williams.

1. As a sounding board for project opportunities.

In any given market, local Sherwin-Williams representatives are typically tuned into many upcoming new construction or renovation jobs, including those where general contractors and subcontractors have not yet been selected. Additionally, the long tenure of many Sherwin-Williams professionals means that they have relationships with key decision-makers in commercial, healthcare, hospitality and other industries where protective concrete projects are frequently needed.

“While some large concrete firms may have business development folks who can establish similar connections, Sherwin-Williams is a great go-to resource for small to midsized contractors who want to expand their knowledge of project opportunities,” Brophy says.

2. As a potential liaison with customers.

Sometimes, a contractor may spot issues in a customer’s project specifications but feel uncomfortable broaching the topic (especially in a new relationship). For example, a customer may specify more costly coating solutions than are actually required to deliver good results. Or, the customer’s scope of work may overlook critical substrate or surface repair needs that will hurt the longevity of any protective concrete project. When situations like this occur, Usterbowski says a contractor should discuss options with Sherwin-Williams and ask if the local representative has a strong connection to the decision-maker. By teaming up with Sherwin-Williams on a customer conversation, the contractor can demonstrate a thoughtful, proactive approach before work actually begins.

3. As a reliable “just in time” resource.

The relationship between a contractor and Sherwin-Williams can provide both local and long-distance benefits. For example, assume a concrete professional digs into a local job with a lot of complicated substrates — such as a building with EIFS cladding, wood trim, metal doors and handrails, and concrete sidewalks or balconies. While many supply houses can get coatings for those elements, the products may come from several different companies. On the other hand, a Sherwin-Williams rep has access to the company’s complete array of protective coatings and sealants, all of which can be delivered in the right quantities at precisely the right time.

The value of that full-line capability becomes even more important if the job is in a distant market. That’s because having nearly 4,000 Sherwin-Williams retail stores eliminates potential distribution, custom mix and cost headaches.

“For out-of-town jobs, the first thing a contractor should do is work with their everyday Sherwin-Williams rep to make sure they get the right pricing,” said Usterbowski. “Then, that rep will help coordinate with the local resource in the job-site market, who will make sure the contractor has a reliable supply of coating inventory exactly when it is needed.”

4. As a highly trusted partner.

In any large, highly competitive marketplace, it’s tough to rise to the top — let alone stay there. That’s why it’s worth noting that Interbrand ranked Sherwin-Williams in its most recent Top 25 list for all U.S. retail brands*. Among other things, the global brand management consultancy said Sherwin-Williams is thriving because of its strong brand reputation, professional advice and nationwide presence.

“What I always tell customers is that Sherwin-Williams is approaching its 150th year in business, and we would not have been able to do that if the company didn’t stand behind its products, services and customers,” Brophy said. ”That’s awfully good reassurance for a contractor.”

*Source: Best Retail Brands 2013