Keeping Group Buying Costs Down for Its Members
By James Careless
It just makes good economic sense for independent and small chain LBM retailers to join a buying group. The reason is that there is power in numbers; specifically the power of purchasing volume. By combining your store’s purchasing orders with those from other LBM retailers, a buying group can negotiate lower per-unit prices. After all, it makes sense for a manufacturer and/or distributor to offer lower per-unit prices on its products, if they can achieve large sales of them. Buying groups take advantage of this fact, and pass on these wholesale price savings to their members as a result.
Sexton Group Ltd, headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba, is an independently-owned buying group for building material dealers, hardware retailers, specialty dealers, and a manufactured structure specialists. Established in 1985, Sexton Group Ltd has over 400 locations, representing hundreds of members in every province and territory in Canada. Dealers that join with Sexton Group Ltd merge with a network of dealers across the country just like them. There are no membership fees, and dealers are not locked into purchasing products through a specific supplier.
“Sexton Group Ltd is dedicated to bringing our members the best possible prices on quality brand-name products,” said Christine Collette, the company’s Member Services Coordinator. “We make sure our members start the year buying competitively and remain so every day of the year.”
When it comes to obtaining products for their stores, Sexton Group Ltd members benefit from promoting their own brand, while at the same time accessing the most competitive prices on building products, tools, lumber and general hardware merchandise. These goods are sourced from more than 250 suppliers with whom the Sexton Group negotiates programs and day-to-day process/quotes; all helping to keep its members growing and profitable throughout the year.
“That’s where we come in, and why Sexton Group Ltd’s slogan is ‘Well Connected’,” she continued. “This speaks to our central role of connecting members and suppliers together in a way that enhances their business. To our members, this means getting the best prices and resolving vendor issues quickly. We have all the right contacts, and make things happen that benefit our members.”
Sexton Group Ltd does all of this with 16 people on staff; less than most buying groups. Keeping costs low is an important focus for this company – staying small helps keep costs down – yet Sexton Group Ltd is committed to offering year-round service to its members.
“We know that purchasing products through our buying group is only one part of the service our members need, and that we provide,” said Eric Palmer, the company’s Product Manager. “We’re also here if there are problems with the products that were delivered; were some damaged or missing? Is the order late? Does the member need more than they planned for, and in a rush? These and many other support services which are provided by Sexton Group Ltd’s to our members – just as if we were part of their own staff.”
The companies who join Sexton Group Ltd are all independent businesses, many of whom specialize in providing services and supplies to building contractors and the agricultural industry. The buying group respects and support their efforts: “In their communities, Sexton Group Ltd members have worked hard to create an individualized locally recognized brand that offers competitive prices on building supplies, hardware and lumber,” said Collette. “It’s these entrepreneurial members connected to brand name suppliers that make us strong.”
In offering this support, “we don’t interfere with you running your business, while keeping your independence and control over the direction of your company,” Palmer said. “Sexton Group Ltd believes that your experience, service and reputation is the banner and the brand in your local market. It’s our member’s name that counts.”
Nevertheless, Sexton Group Ltd remains tireless in the background, doing everything they can to enhance its members’ profits. To this end, the company boosts its members’ individual brands by directing supplier-provided advertising funds directly to them, to support and increase the equity of their brands. “When you succeed, we succeed,” said Christine Collette. “That’s the whole rationale behind Sexton Group Ltd: We are here to enhance our members’ prosperity first.”
Further to this point, Sexton Group Ltd sponsors member conferences and meetings on an annual basis, to help its members build important business and personal relationships that will last a lifetime. “We are big supporters of the WRLA and its events for this same reason,” said Palmer. “When the LBM industry does well, we do well too.”
Overall, Sexton Group Ltd’s strongest asset is making our members our number one priority. Based on what Sexton Group Ltd’s members have to say, this claim is justified.
“Sexton Group offers us building material and hardware supply arrangements that help us secure buying power that makes it possible for us to offer our customers what they are looking for,” said Harry Laurent from Arcola Building Supplies in Arcola, Saskatchewan. “Working with Sexton we continue to reach our goal – a profitable small town lumberyard with a big city feel.”
“We are often asked, ‘How does one little store compete with the box stores of the world?’ We compete with the help of the Sexton Group and all of the members extending from Atlantic Canada to British Columbia and the Territories,” said Lowell Grasse from Grasse Lumber Sales Ltd. in Didsbury, Alberta. “As an independent owner, I am very happy with the support I receive from the Sexton Group. In my view, the Sexton Group is very efficient at outperforming any buying group in dollar volume of purchases per employee.”
This is just two of the many positive member testimonials found at sextongroup.com. “These testimonials, and the ongoing support of our member’s year in and year out, underscores our Customer First attitude at Sexton Group Ltd,” said Collette. “We are always happy to welcome new members to share in the many benefits that we deliver to our membership, every day of the year.”