BFS Shares Its High-Tech Aspirations

Builders FirstSource showed off its technology investments and its financial achievements here during an investors conference that was capped by a tour of a west Georgia automated truss plant.

A highlight of the day—for some of the visitors, at least—was the sight of precision robots in Villa Rica, Georgia, piecing together a floor truss with efficiency, precision and, one could even say, grace

The benefits of technology were a major theme of the morning’s business overview. The company has invested $130 million in manufacturing automation since 2020, as part of a strategy to drive operational excellence and address labor challenges.

“It’s one of our best plants in the country,” said Mike Farmer, Builders FirstSource President of Commercial Operations. As a truss plant, the facility produces 158 board feet per man hour, well over the industry average of 100.

Beyond the field of cybernetics and automation, the company shared progress on its plan to generate through its digital tools $1 billion in incremental product revenue by 2026.

Tim Page, Executive VP of Digital Solutions, described the company as entering a new phase of its strategy: to drive adoption of its comprehensive digital tools organized under the myBLDR.com customer portal. These tools include planning, modeling, estimating, and ordering for the building and the homeowner.

“Homebuilding is ready to join the digital revolution,” said Page. “And Builders FirstSource will lead the way.”

Homebuilder Matt Green, CEO of Front Light Building and an early adopter of myBLDR.com, joined Page on the stage and described BFS digital tools as “game changing.” The high-end home builder in the Carolinas pointed to cost efficiency, take-off accuracy, and customer satisfaction as outcomes.

Technology and digital operations were just part of the day’s wide-ranging series of presentations. The company continued its emphasis on value-added products and services. These include truss and panel products, like those made in Villa Rica. Also, capacity for millwork is being increased to meet growing demand, as is Ready-Frame, the company’s brand of pre-cut precision packages – both lumber packages for framing and pre-built component packages that are labeled and ready to install.

BFS operates about 120 truss plants around the country. That figure is approaching four times the number of plants operated by its nearest competitor, the company said.

The company recently achieved its goal of increasing to more than 50 percent the proportion of its value-added mix. The value-add segment of the building product market is growing faster than the total building product market, a trend that is “playing directly into our strategy,” Rush said. At the same time, national builders are growing faster than all builders, and they make the best customer of value-added products, Rush said.

There are other reasons to be optimistic. In addition to the long-term tailwind of an under-built housing market, only 10.4 percent of those aged 25-34 are homeowners – a promising sign of home building activity to come.

“We’re really excited about where we are, but we’re just getting started,” said President and CEO Dave Rush. Summing up the event, the CEO pointed to key topics, including value add, integration, operational excellence and digital transformation, to name a few.

“What they all have in common,” he said, “is together they lead to long-term growth.”

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