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"The Best Kept Secret!"

10/29/2014 07:00:00 am | Viewed: 3705

After 22 years of working at the Builders Exchange, one thought resonates in my mind; the Builders Exchange is the "best kept secret" in the construction industry.

The Builders Exchange in Texas has been around since the turn of the century (not this century, the last one!) and

 for the past 115 years it has been the cornerstone of this industry. 
Ask anyone working in construction what the Builders Exchange is and if they were born before 1980, they will probably say, “That's the place with the blueprints and plan tables”.   If they work in a "family business", they might get that far away look in their eyes and say "my Dad", "my Uncle" or "my Grandfather” was on the Board of Directors. They might even say "he was the President back when".

With over a century under it’s belt, you’d think that everyone in the construction industry knows about Builders Exchange.  In reality, the majority of people who were born before 1980 are "Dead", and with them is their memory of the Builders Exchange.

Right about now you’re saying to yourself, “time to stop reading this article - it’s getting morbid", but I challenge you to go with me a bit further and you will see that I am trying to get your attention, not scare you away. 

My point is that with every passing year, the construction industry’s "cycle of life" repeats itself.  People leave; they quit, retire, even die - but at the same time our ranks are replenished with new people, usually younger than the people that are leaving.

This process happens every year, and "God willing and the creek don't rise", it will continue that way for a long time to come.  Because of this turnover, being the "best kept secret" doesn't have the same appeal as it did before.  Now it seems that Builders Exchange is just a "secret".
I blame myself for this as much as I do anyone else, because I assumed (like my predecessors) that with a longevity of over 100 years, that "anyone who is anyone" in the construction industry knows Builders Exchange, and what it is we do.

I look around the industry today and I notice "a lot" of people that were born after 1980. Why is that significant you may ask? Because they are the first generation to grow up that has never known a world without the Internet!
I have heard that people who are in their late 30's to late 40's (GenXers) are called the "WHY" Generation, and those that are in their 20's and 30's (Gen-Y or Millenniums) are called the "I" Generation because they consume all things Internet.

I personally fit into the "WHY" Generation, and because of that I have spent the past decade saying "Why do I need to market the Builders Exchange - we never had to before."  The answer is that if the Builders Exchange intends to blow out the candles on its’ 125th birthday we have to stop being a "secret".
For the past decade the Builders Exchange has redoubled its efforts to become the "best" at what it does, and I think that we are really on our way to being the "best construction news service" in the state of Texas, but we have not particularly focused on not being a "secret".
In the past month that focus has changed; we are now working with our new partner - Cloud Takeoff (web-based estimating tool), which has a couple of thousand users nationally and internationally, to get the "word out" about the Builders Exchange.

Getting the "word out" uses different mediums, emails, social networks (ask those born after 1980 to explain, if you are unfamiliar with that term) and yes, the old "tried and true" phone calls.

This is a new process for us and I have already started receiving emails and calls from members who say "Why are you calling me? I'm already a member".
I reply that with all new processes there are always some kinks.  Yes, we know who our members are, but a few of you inadvertently slip into our "Target Audience" and may receive a phone call or email, asking you if you want to subscribe to the "best" construction news service in the state of Texas.

I apologize again to those of you who already received one of those calls, and I apologize in advance to those of you who might get that call in the future.  Instead of being annoyed at us for interrupting your busy day, do me a favor and tell the person calling that you are already members of the "best kept secret" in Texas!


- Michael Tollette, CEO

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Author Info

Chairman and CEO

Michael Tollette has worked for Virtual Builders Exchange, LLC. over 20 years to develop unique, technology-driven services for the construction industry.

Tollette is past-president of the International Builders Exchange Executives (IBEE); two-time winner of the IBEE Management Award and winner of the No Boundaries Award for innovation and creative vision in developing plan room services.