The effects of the COVID pandemic have dramatically changed - perhaps forever - the building, buying, and selling of homes. When these are combined with some of the lowest mortgage interest rates in modern history, it makes the opening lines from the classic novel by Charles Dickens -“A Tale of Two Cities”- more relevant than ever before.
It is indeed the best of times for home buyers with decent credit and the cash for a down payment. Conversely, the construction industry is feeling the stress as they try to keep supply chains open, workers healthy and on the job, and the dirt flying!
In its almost 130 years of working with architects, builders, and homebuyers, Acme Brick has successfully navigated some very tough times, including the first pandemic in 1918, the Great Depression, and two world wars. The company’s mettle has been tested and “on the other side” of these events has gotten even stronger than the hard-fired brick it has been known for!
Did you know Acme Brick sells a whole lot more than just brick? Explore our newest product lines here.
Challenges or Opportunities?
Brent Snyder is one of the Acme Brick managers who is responsible for synchronizing the “new normal.” He is charged with meeting the demands of architects, who are designing homes and specifying building materials for builders who are trying to keep inventory equal to or ahead of the demand from consumers. Fortunately, his vast experience (37 years) in the construction industry has served him well in this current state of affairs.
“The ‘social distancing’ demands of dealing with COVID has completely changed the way we communicate with our customers,“ Snyder said. “Almost no one in the construction ‘ecosystem’ wants us to schedule an in-person appointment and talk in depth about a property they are designing and building. This due to health concerns.
“This can be challenging for companies that produce construction products such as roofing, lumber, or brick because there are so many variations on these materials. With our company, we offer thousands of colors, sizes of brick, and just as many other building materials ranging from cladding to tile. Rather than having in-depth discussions with our customers about their projects, as we have always done, we must now offer options for colors, styles, and pricing in one or maybe two emails. Our sales team now uses digital assets, such as online specification sheets, product brochures, and technical reports.
“While no one saw the pandemic coming, we have been adapting our product materials to be delivered online for a couple of years. This has made a big difference in the efficiency of communication and allows designers, builders, and homebuyers an opportunity to obtain product information from our website, with no human contact. This is the new normal and we have had thousands of visits to the ‘products’ section, found on the homepage of brick.com.”
Builder Practices Have Changed
When mortgage interest rates are below 3 percent, as they have been for the entire time of the COVID pandemic of 2020, the demand for new homes is at 30-year highs. It seems that builders can’t build these new homes fast enough! For existing homes, this demand has even led to bidding wars among potential buyers.
For builders, this means greater planning must occur to ensure that the supply chain of construction materials, appliances, heating and air conditioning and all of these other elements that go into a new home show up on time. Successful builders understand that any delays due to supply chain miscalculation can be costly. This makes the Acme Brick online resources - product brochures and information - even more critical to keeping building on schedule.
“Even with the emphasis on online communication, we are still here to ensure that products arrive on time and on budget,” Snyder said.
“Because we manufacture our brick products in plants around the U.S., we have real-time information about what colors or styles are immediately available and what our current inventory is for every product. When we execute a sales order, the builder can be confident of the arrival date and plan his other tasks around this.”
“As a side note, our plant managers and workers have diligently avoided COVID related slow downs that many other construction materials manufacturers have experienced, using recommended social distancing, masks, and aggressive hygiene practices. As a result, we have only had a couple of instances of the virus infecting our associates. This has enabled us to keep cooking brick and transporting them to job sites,” he added.
Times have certainly changed and manufacturers like Acme Brick are meeting the challenges of COVID. However, long after this current challenge is nothing but a bad memory, the technology that is helping the company improve customer satisfaction now will continue.
If you are thinking about building a new home or need more information about the many products that Acme offers, just click here for one of our product specialists to assist you.