There’s not much more that can be said about the supply challenges of appliances, framing, lumber, and OSB. The National Association of Home Builders says 90 percent of all builders are reporting shortages. It’s the new normal for an entire industry.

But what about other homebuilding essentials, like flooring, tile and countertops?

That prognosis could be summed up in single word: sustainable.

Few are in a better position to make that observation than Dan Butterfield. The building products industry executive leads the sales group at Daltile, the nation’s leading manufacturer and distributor of porcelain tile, ceramic tile, and natural stone. Today one out of every three tiles sold in the U.S. is a Daltile product.

“The first word that comes to mind is sustainability,” says the 26-year flooring veteran. “Sustainability of material availability, labor and, of course, material costs.”

Sustainability has its challenges, however. Butterfield admits his company faces the same supply chain disruptions as any other building products manufacturer, from shrinking imports (this spring the Port of Los Angeles counted more empty containers than loaded ones for the first time) and staffing issues at their suppliers to transit delays due to the surging logistical demands of home deliveries and other truck borne commerce.

Order from Disorder

Fortunately, Butterfield and his team has some formidable assets at their disposal:

  • Transparency. “I can speak for the builders that we work with and say they’re very sensitive to what we’re going through,” Butterfield says. “Of course, they have their own pressure to worry about. Everyone has quotas. I’d call it more creative tension than stress.” To that end, most of the top 50 builders are updated at least once a month during a call. The first rule is: No surprises. “I practically live with planning these days,” reports Butterfied.
  • Made in U.S.A. The company has doubled down on domestic production. “We want to own the birth, life, and death of our products, which may mean some initial capacity constraints. But I’d much rather face material allocation issues than wonder, ‘When are we going to get another container?’”
  • Analytics. The art and science of making wise decisions depends on analytics. Do you have unfiltered insight into the state of the market? “What’s happening by geography? Who’s building where? How much material do we need? What are our labor needs? Analytics plays a key role,” Butterfield explains. He singles out one partner in helping support that crucial insight and that’s the Interior Logic Group (ILG). The company is the country’s largest provider of interior design and finish solutions for the building industry. Their industry-leading technology platform is counted on to extend the forecasting horizon out “from five to seven days to 30 or 40 days,” says Butterfield.

That level of forecasting precision is invaluable. “We speak to ILG weekly,” Butterfield says.

No one has a crystal ball, especially with COVID-19 clouding projections. Perhaps the next best thing is to line up allies like Interior Logic that can extend vision far beyond the expected.

Learn more how the power of an industry-leading technology platform can help you meet your business objectives.