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Talking building a strong customer base with Rick Hess of Cardinal Building Products

About Rick Hess

Rick Hess, 55, became general manager of Leola-based Cardinal Building Products in July, 2018. He was previously general manager at Bareville and before that, director of sales and marketing and later regional general manager at C.B. Structures. 

He and his wife live in Warwick Township and have two grown children, a son and a daughter.

Last year was a wet one, but this has been a warmer and drier winter. What have these weather swings meant for business?

Business has been very steady over the winter this year with the mild weather we’ve experienced. Talking with customers, everybody is very optimistic, everybody is having a stronger start this year over last year and they are very optimistic that will continue now that we’re heading toward the middle of March.

Throughout your career in sales, what has been the key to building a strong customer base in a competitive market?

I think in today’s market, with all the opportunities that customers have out there, it’s very important to differentiate yourself, either by product or by service. It takes price out of the game when you can offer a quality product with a great service. It takes a service team behind you, it takes a whole team to make that happen. Relationship selling is still important out there to a lot of customers as well, because they feel comfort in the people they deal with.

What is Cardinal’s best-selling product, and why do you think it is popular?

We have several products that I would say are top-selling products. We specialize in unique products. We have multiple decking brands that all have their own attributes, making them a little bit different, serving customers who like different styles in decking brands, composites vs. PVCs, etc. We also have a line of roofing, DECRA roofing, a stone-coated metal roofing which, again, is a unique product in the marketplace. We also have the trimlines and accessories that go with things. The secret of the products’ success is, we don’t offer what everybody down the street has. We offer a diversified, unique product line here which makes our offering to the lumberyard industry an attractive offering, because it’s not something everybody has.

What is your favorite building toy?

I would have to say it’s Legos, because of all the different varieties of colors and sizes. You can create anything out of it, whether it’s with a kit or out of your own head. It is amazing what people create.

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