4 questions for a pro: Building supply guy Chris Marchand


California native Chris Marchand has lived in the Sarasota area since 1991 and has raised his family here. He started his career in the building-supply business with Prehungs of Florida.

For the past 14 years, he has been with Kimal Lumber & Hardware, working as a plant manager and moving into sales in 2006. The company makes custom exterior and interior doors and roof trusses for houses, primarily in the high-end market; it supplies other building products, including windows, drywall, siding, locks and hardware and specialty items. It has outlets in Englewood and Nokomis, where it also has a sales center and showroom. Its production facilities are in Venice.

Correspondent Chris Angermann interviewed Marchand about new product developments.

Q:How has the industry changed over the past decade or two?

A:When you look at a house, the most important things to making it look good and aesthetically pleasing are the basic elements — doors, windows, paint and hardware. Nowadays, there are a multitude of choices for building products in price, quality and looks.

It used be that there were two or three hardware lock companies. Now there are 20, and they have multiple lines and items. It's the same with decking products and railing systems. Ten to 15 years ago, you could only get so much with your budget. Now you can get something that looks more upscale for a reduced price.

Typically, the suppliers will call on architects to get their products spec'ed on their prints. Companies like ours deal directly with the builder and the homeowners. Sometimes, either or both will come to our showroom and ask us for guidance, depending on their budget and what they're looking for. There is a wide variety of exciting products for every realm.

Because of the Internet, a lot of people are well-educated now. They have done their homework and know what they want, even before they meet with the architect. They'll say, "We saw this product and would like to use it," and the architect specs it in the print. When it comes back to us, we quote it and supply it.

Q:Do you have products specifically tailored to green building?

A:We are a green-building company, but I think it is not as much on the radar as it was four or five years ago. It's still important, but from what I have seen and all the work that comes across my desk, it's not as much in demand, and less of a promotional tool. Green building has mainstreamed, so that many of the products that would have been advertised as "green" in the past are now used as a matter of course.

Q:What are some of these new products?

A:In our Florida market, because of the elements we have to deal with, everyone is looking for longevity in building materials. We offer a product called FrameGuard that prevents mold. It's a treatment we put on our lumber and our trusses — the inner skeleton of the house. Mold will not grow on it.

Another product extensively used is cellular PVC lumber. Companies Kleer, AZEK and Versa-Tech make trim pieces with it — baseboards and crown molding for exterior porch ceilings and outdoor kitchens — that are not going to rot and will last longer than wood. The same thing holds true for deck boards and railings. You don't have to use wood or pressure-treated lumber; you can go to a PVC railing system, and a composite or PVC deck board.

Q:What about custom-built homes?

A:At the high end, there is still quite a bit of wood being used. There are still a lot of people who like the look and natural feel of lumber, as opposed to composite board.

Cypress is a popular lumber. Ipe Brazilian walnut, a hardwood used for flooring and decking, is very popular on the barrier islands and here in Sarasota. It's extremely strong and will last as long, if not longer, than a composite product. It's pricey, but people who can afford it want what they want and use it. At that point it's about looks, appearance and a feeling that the other products can only mimic.


Last modified: May 31, 2013
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