Best in Class Winners Give Builders What They Need

We sent top builders a survey that asked them to rate the qualities that draw them in and keep them with a manufacturer and their products. Here's how they responded.
By By Nick Bajzek, Products Editor | October 31, 2006

Professional Builder's 2006 Best in Class Survey covers a wide swath of the home building industry, from toilets to housewrap and windows to floorboards. We sent top builders a survey that asked them to rate the qualities that draw them in and keep them with a manufacturer and their products.

Though most of the responses are a veritable who's who of the manufacturing industry it is important to note that brand recognition, an obvious first guess, was farther down the list than you might think. Quality (43 percent) was overwhelmingly named as most important with builders when it came to choosing a product, suggesting that it's not all in the name — or in the price. The rest of the categories aren't as dramatic in their differences but still tell where builders' priorities' lie.

Customer service (16.6 percent) ranks a clear second. This category includes product support and knowledgeable sales people. Excellent warranties are a close third with 14 percent of the responses. Rounding out the top five, are all elements related to customer service, such as a wide range of products from the manufacturer (10.9 percent) and finally, at number five, prices (9.8 percent). Rounding out the bottom were advertising and trade-off contacts; training and support; and all other mentions.

The survey, which was conducted over the summer, ran the gamut of company sizes and specialties. Out of those 400-plus builder responses we compiled a list of the products most often mentioned, and out of that list we chose the winners of the 2006 Best in Class Survey.

The Best in Class
Decking Trex
Entry Doors Therma-Tru
Exterior Moulding and Trim Fypon
Garage Doors Overhead
Manufactured Stone Cultured Stone
Patio Doors Andersen
Roofing CertainTeed
Fiber Cement Siding James Hardie
Vinyl Siding CertainTeed
Skylights Velux
Composite Windows Andersen
Vinyl Windows Andersen
Wood Windows Andersen
Overall Exterior Products Winner CertainTeed

Appliances - Kitchen General Electric
Appliances - Laundry Maytag
Bathroom Faucets Delta
Cabinets Merillat
Caulk/Sealants DAP
Countertops Corian
Fireplaces Heatilator
Glass Block PPG
HVAC Systems Trane Residential
Interior Doors Masonite
Kitchen Faucets Moen
Lighting Fixtures Progress
Locksets & Hardware Schlage
Interior Moulding & Trim Georgia-Pacific
Paints/Stains/Finishes Sherwin-Williams
Plumbing Fixtures (sinks, tubs) Kohler
Toilets Kohler
Water Heaters A.O. Smith
Overall Interior Products Winner Kohler
NOTE: Cabinets No. 1 was "Custom"
NOTE: Countertops No. 1 was "Granite"
NOTE: Interior trim No. 1 was "Custom made"

Housewrap Tyvek
Insulation: Fiberglass Owens Corning
Insulation: Foam Owens Corning
Insulation: Rigid Owens Corning
Nails Paslode
OSB Georgia-Pacific
Pipe/Tubing PEX
Plywood Georgia-Pacific
Radiant Floor Heating Uponor (formerly Wirsbo)
Gypsum Wallboard U.S. Gypsum
Wet Area Wallboard U.S. Gypsum
Wiring Devices Leviton/Decora
Overall Behind the Wall Winner Owens Corning

Hand Tools Stanley
Power Tools DeWalt
Trucks Ford
Vans Ford
National Lending Firm Wells Fargo

Best In Class Survey Rankings
Quality Products 43
Customer Service 16.6
Good Warranty 14
Wide/Great Selection/Product Line 10.9
Great Prices 9.8
Timely Shipping and Delivery 7.2
Name Recognition 6
Good Literature 5.7
Durability/Long-Lasting 4.5
Advertising/Trade-Off Contacts 3.8
Dependable/Reliable 3.4
Consistency 2.7
Quick Response Time 2.6
Excellent Training and Support 2.3
Research and Product Development 1.9
There When We Need It 1.9
All Other Mentions 18.5

 Survey Snapshots

  • Fiber cement siding is more popular with builders in theSouth (62.1 percent), while only 49.4 percent in the Northeast, 46.2 percent in the Midwest and 56 percent in the West buy it.
  • Vinyl Windows have much more acceptance in the West; 80 percent of builders specify vinyl windows in that region compared with just fewer than 70 percent on average in the other regions.
  • Composite windows are more popular among western builders than those in any other region; 66.7 percent purchase composite windows compared with 43.2 percent in the Northeast, 44.2 percent in the Midwest and 42.9 percent in the South.
  • Among custom and smaller builders, radiant floor heating gets a lot of attention. On average, slightly more than 30 percent of builders building fewer than 100 homes purchase the product. Across builder types, 32.7 percent of custom builders purchase it compared with only 7.1 percent of production builders.
  • Fireplaces receive an equal amount of attention across most regions (68.4 percent on average) while Northeast builders, surprisingly, are less likely to purchase (53.1 percent).
  • Builders in the Northeast (80.2 percent) are more likely to purchase skylights compared with all other regions (Midwest: 64.4 percent; South: 50.7 percent; West: 64 percent).


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