LBM Dealers : Increase Profits by Assembling Aluminum Railings In-House
Aluminum powder-coated railings have been gaining in market share due to their aesthetics, durability, low maintenance and varied design and color options. However, one of the main challenges related to any aluminum railing project is finding a product that is engineered for both commercial and residential use, locally available and easy to install. It is an issue that a national or regional LBM dealer can easily—and profitably—remedy.
LBM dealers choosing to use the UltraLox Interlocking leading-edge approach are adding value for their customers and claiming a larger percentage of the profit.
"The U.S. aluminum railing market was $237 million in 2016 and is projected to grow to more than $300 million over the next five years."
Assembling railings in-house can also help local dealers expand their rail offerings into multifamily and commercial markets. For many contractors in these markets, having the right railing product available, in the right quantities and at the right time, is a constant challenge.
The ability for our customers to install faster, with no mechanical fasteners, and turn around the production of the panels in a short amount of time sets us apart from our competitors.”
— Pat Noonan, President of Pro Deck Supply, Minneapolis
The rail panels for this project were produced by an Ultralox Interlocking Machine.
What LBM Dealers Say
Dealers surveyed by Principia identified four key benefits of the UltraLox Interlocking Machine:
- Ability to assemble and sell panels
- Ability to make custom panels with minimal waste
- The reduction in time and cost drives increased profit
- The low number of SKUs required to store material.
Growing aluminum railing demand combined with purchase drivers identified by rail installers point to a market ripe with need for dealers who can produce made-to-fit aluminum railing panels. LBM dealers can leverage the UltraLox Interlocking™ Machine to fill this need and, as a result, gain increased market Share.
Simple In-House Assembly
In-house aluminum rail assembly is not a complex process. For an LBM dealer who already conducts light manufacturing or assembly, the model is simple. For these dealers, today’s advances in rail-assembly equipment make it easy to assemble railing panels to size and on demand with existing manpower and infrastructure.
For example, the UltraLox Interlocking Machine is a newer innovation that is used to assemble UltraLox’s Harmony aluminum, powder-coated railing into panels quickly and easily at the dealer’s facility. The UltraLox Interlocking Machine requires minimal training to operate. One person can produce 240 six-foot Harmony railing panels in less than eight hours. Harmony Railings can be assembled in standard or custom sizes, eliminating the material waste that occurs when having to cut rails to fit at a project site.
In a space of less than 300 square feet, three stocked colors can be converted to over 10,000 lineal feet of railings, spanning over two miles.
Additionally, storage of the aluminum extrusions, which are needed to assemble the finished Harmony Railing product, requires minimal space. In fact, an eight-foot pallet rack of product will convert to more than 3,500 lineal feet of finished assembled railing panels. Three stocked colors can be converted to more than 10,000 lineal feet of railings, spanning over two miles. With this process, a Harmony Railing customer can obtain finished aluminum railing product within 24 to 48 hours of placing an order, rather than waiting on the four- to eight-week lead time with custom welded products. When an issue arises on the jobsite that requires the customer to order replacement or additional railing, the LBM dealer can respond to the customer’s needs within hours versus weeks. What a Game Changer!
The Harmony pre-assembled aluminum railing panels can save installers a great deal of time on their railing installations. Consequently, an LBM dealer that offers this time- and money-saving rail system is well-positioned to gain increased market share by establishing itself as a preferred aluminum railing supplier. In fact, according to Principia, a leading research and consulting firm in the building materials and construction industry, dealers who own UltraLox machines stand to gain a substantial profit margin increase.
What Installers Say
Although the majority of railing installers (81%) surveyed by Principia typically purchase rail components/extrusions to assemble on the project site, one-third of these installers said they are extremely likely to consider a pre-assembled panel for their next job.
The three top reasons for purchasing mechanical system components for onsite assembly are more quality control over the end product, components are easier and less costly to transport and installers are better able to customize the installation. However, nearly four out of 10 installers generally must order out-of-stock components, with 63% often waiting one to two weeks for delivery.
Installers identified three key benefits of pre-assembled aluminum railing systems:
- Custom-sized panels reduce material waste
- Reduced labor on installation as compared with assembling components at the project site
- Reduced lead times associated with shipping of extra material for the purpose of onsite customization
What’s more, when introduced to the concept of the Ultralox Interlocking Machine, in which a product line of aluminum, powder-coated railing can be assembled into panels on demand, in both standard and custom sizes, 62% of all installers said they would consider the product line at a reasonable cost. The interlocking process brings the advantages of onsite rail-component assembly—quality control, reduced shipping/transport costs, customization—to pre-assembled railing panels. Dealers can assemble rail panels to fit within two days.
In-House Assembly Eliminates Roadblocks That Slow Railing Projects
Large-scale LBM dealers can add product value and increase profit margins by leveraging the UltraLox Interlocking Machine to control how aluminum, powder-coated railing is produced and when it is delivered. This is a transformative approach to producing railings, providing UltraLox dealers with the ability to dramatically reduce inventory costs, warehouse requirements, freight costs and damage issues. In return, dealers have the ability to achieve levels of efficiency, customer service and profitability above and beyond standard practice.