When you are in the market for construction materials, where do you turn? If you are smart, it is to an experienced company with a wide product base and the demonstrated know-how to help you choose the right products for your needs. Without both of these criteria, you are, to put it plainly, putting your project at risk.
Experience without a wide range of products is of little use – all this means is that the company knows how to “make do” with what they have. This is not the way to go, because “making do” can lead to breakdowns – and that will cost you time and money. The right tool for the job is not just a clich, it is the best way to succeed at whatever it is you are attempting.
Of course, the opposite situation – a wide catalogue but not-so-knowledgeable staff – is not great, either. If you are truly independent and know exactly what you want, it might be okay; it is quite possible that there might be better options that you have overlooked, though. And if you actually want assistance, well, it just gets worse. You may end up buying way more than you need and hurting your budget; or you might buy the wrong equipment and lose time to breakdowns and repairs (made worse by possibly poor understanding of the problems).
Technologies and standards are constantly evolving, as are the methods that are used to handle certain issues. For example, Geotextiles come in a variety of styles and shapes for use in different soil control or anti-erosion situations. That being the case, you need a supplier that has access to a wide enough variety of types and can best advise you on the most proper type for your particular needs – preferably based on real-world experience.
Even “mature” products such as concrete or Steel Pipe comes with a vast array of optional configurations that should be properly navigated. Also, when you need custom work, an experienced company can save you time and money by getting it done to your specifications the first time.
You should be convinced by now that price is not the primary focus; finding the correct products is. Saving some money but ending up with not-quite-right equipment or products for your project will end up costing you money in the long run. It is important to budget carefully, but you should never take your eye off doing the job right.
One other consideration: make sure that the company you choose not only has a wide range of products, but also a stock reserve that is deep enough to get replacements out in a hurry, should something go wrong. Because on a construction site, despite all the planning in the world, there is always a chance for something to go wrong.
Joan Jaynes is a non-affiliated Web-based blogger who specializes in the building industry and similar issues. She has a particular interest in the various types of Geotextiles, as well as more standard products such as Steel Pipe.