Originally Posted by etwman
This is a very good question and I'll give you my opinion on it, once again its mine, take it or leave it.
The hardscape supplier market is oversaturated, especially in the northeast. Giving a client 3-4 100 page catalogs will confuse the daylights out of them. I would suggest 1 or 2 at the most.
We used to be brand loyal, putting alot of eggs in one basket with EPHenry. I'm not going to go into details on how the relationship fractured but if you ever wanted to watch the downfall of a powerhouse pull up a front seat to this story. The dissolvement of the conserv division, lack of innovation, removal of key players from the authorized contractor program, removal of key dealers, etc. has all happened. I had lunch a month ago with a few friends of mine who are large contractors, together 4 years ago we represented about $400k in combined annual sales to EPH. That's a dealership. Today none of us buy from them. At first I thought it was just us witnessing all of this until I stepped into a Techo-Bloc round table the other month. (I rarely go to these but did this year). There was a comment said amongst 20 contractors and an applause to the tune of , "don't do what EPH did, leave us and fail to innovate." That's huge, the problem is monumental. The were the Goliath 6-8 years ago and now they are off major percentages in sales in their prime markets. This failure has spread like cancer accross the hardscape market. All that will carry them is their brand name and that will fail at some point too. See what the smart producers realize is their consumer isn't the homeowner (yes they are interested) its the contractor. No homeowner is going to install a 1500 sf patio, sorry. Fail to support and listen to the contractor and you're removing a major customer. Most of our clients will follow our lead in whatever product we suggest because they trust us, and rightfully so they should.
With this said you need to select a brand that is a quality product, gives great customer support, and truly innovates. Also you need to select a dealership that is close to you. Techo may not be there, it may be Belgard, not sure.
We aren't totally brand loyal anymore, we learned our lesson with that. We won't do it again. My suggestion is to pick one that you feel very comfortable with, and have a few others you use on occassion.
Hope this all helps.
Thanks for your response! We went to a Techo-Bloc showcase this past week, and I was quite impressed. As with anything like that put on by a manufacturer, you go into these things expecting a sales pitch, and it was to an extent, but I was able to sit there all day and be able to be continually interested. The other thing they did (or did NOT do I guess) that I really respected is they did not stand up there all day and say things like "we do this with our products, so and so does not" or "so and so is inferior to us because of this" and I thought that was great. They didn't feel the need to bash other companies, they just said hey this is what we have, this is how we do it, and this is the technology we are using.
I spent a lot of time talking to the local sales rep and explained what we were looking to do in the market, and that I am taking the ICPI course coming up. He asked if I had any projects planned yet and I said that I was going to go some wall and a patio at my own house sort of as practice sometime this spring, and he actually offered to come to my house for a couple days and help me do the work and show me how to do the work. I was pretty impressed with that. The other reps from other companies just said "oh, heres a catalog and some pamphlets with some how-to tips." It sounds like you were also pretty impressed with Techo at one point.
Again thanks for your response and as always I look forward to more pictures of your work!!