MN E-Comm Captains: Blair Budlong, DecksDirect

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Blair Budlong Decks DirectThanks to Irish Titan for underwriting our MN E-Comm Captains series focused on leading local online retailers!

Blair Budlong started DecksDirect nine years ago to provide homeowners and builders with a one-stop shop for purchasing premium deck building materials and accessories online.

In a building materials world traditionally dominated by lumberyards and brick-and-mortar, DecksDirect.com is now the largest online retailer of deck accessories in North America with a team of 38 full-time employees based in Northeast Minneapolis.

He’ll be speaking to his success in person at the next Twin Cities E-commerce meetup on 4/26.

What do you sell online?

We offer 18,000 SKUs related to specialty deck products and related building materials.

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When and how did you get started?

2008 – With a previous business, I distributed a deck related product nationally through Home Depot and Lowe’s. The building material industry, home construction and consumer lending was just coming out of a terrible recession. For the average DIY deck builder, the availability of materials were difficult to find and purchase. Inventories at local stores and region distribution were very slim. Home Centers and lumberyards reduced inventories and relied on the manufacturer’s to supply materials just-in-time. We wanted to provide an opportunity for homeowners to purchase higher quality products than what was available locally. It also helps that over 80 percent of the decks in the US are over 20 years old. There is high demand for low-maintenance customizable products.

Is it Primarily B2B, B2C, or both?

We are B2C. We segment into “Do-it-Yourselfers”, “Do-it-For-Me’s” and Contractors. All consumer based transactions

What do you attribute success so far to?

Great people and a great culture

What is something — tech, mindset, book, person, etc — that really positively impacted sales?

  1. Traction / EOS Process
  2. Netsuite
  3. Entrepreneurs Organization (EO)

What’s the greatest challenge faced today?

Finding great people that want to work for a growing small business (love a little chaos and uncertainty)

Where do you see your business one year from today?

Growth, Profitable Growth, More Growth

What is your advice for the new e-commerce entrepreneur?

The easiest thing for any person or company to do to attract more sales is to lower their price. You don’t need any education to figure this out. It takes talent, skill and creativity to learn how to effectively sell to customers at a higher price than Amazon (insert your low price provider). You have to find your value for the customer. I really don’t like competing on price.

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