Cemstone's Contractor Supply stores offer customers a hands-on approach to selecting building supplies.
The Kuhlman Corp. head quarters in Maumee, Ohio, exemplifies the versatility and beauty of masonry products.

A wall of red #470-479 Dark Belden Brick stands on one side of the front entrance, in dramatic contrast to perpendicular walls and towers of Arriscraft Dry Stack Building Stone. Above the entryway, a cantilevered cast-in-place concrete canopy is a subtle reminder of Kuhlman's core product.

Ken Kuhlman, a fourth generation member of the company's founding family, says the wall gives the building, “a sense of permanence from the standpoint of the products we sell, and also our commitment to the community and masonry construction. We've been in business 105 years.”

Inside, the main brick wall serves as the backbone of the building, and features historic masonry techniques executed by the masonry contractor, S.A. Storer and Sons.

Collaboration is key

A “diaper pattern” uses cantilevered brick to create stair-step shadow lines at different times of the day, while interior arches highlight traditional brickwork. Not as visible, but equally important, were the collaborative efforts of the contractor and brick supplier. S.A. Storer and Belden Brick worked together to create custom products and one-of-a-kind patterns that resulted in artistic brickwork not often seen in new construction.

The brick and stone walls also separate each major function of Kuhlman's headquarters: a showroom, training facility, sales and dispatch, and administrative offices. When visitors enter the 2800-square-foot showroom, they discover unique product applications, in addition to traditional displays.

Across the hall, Kuhlman University convenes during the off-season, offering hands-on training for architects, engineers, contractors, and other professionals. Kuhlman invites vendors and product experts to host workshops and informational lunches. Professionals from companies like Belden Brick and Arriscraft lead training seminars about new products, such as specialty brick sizes and thin veneer masonry units. The 1500-square-foot multimedia facility even has running water and a wash-down space for demonstrations. Its amphitheater seating is often filled to capacity, with about 75 guests attending each session.

The building has enabled Kuhlman to demonstrate quality workmanship to a larger audience. Ken Kuhlman enjoys hearing from customers and suppliers who appreciate what the company is doing to promote their products. “Customers say, ‘It's neat that you've done this for our industry,'” says Kuhlman. “It makes a statement that we are proud to be in this business.”

For more on Cemstone and Kuhlman Corp., visit their Web sites

Factors of Cemstone's success:
  • Sales staff exclusively dedicated to store promotion
  • Customized products to meet local needs
  • Integrated sales approach for ready-mix and contractor supplies
  • “Retail” strategies, such as e-commerce and customer loyalty programs

  • Factors of Kuhlman's success:
  • Strong relationships with suppliers
  • A highly visible showcase of product capabilities
  • Unique product applications
  • Collaboration with suppliers to educate customers

  • Are you interested in expanding your company's line of construction supplies? Check out the following, innovative products at World of Concrete. Booth numbers were correct at time of publication.

    Architectural reveals for tilt-up

    Greenstreak Reveal StiX are lightweight architectural treatments for the tilt-up industry. Laminated with a durable, smooth plastic outer shell, they resist damage and don't require release agents or form oils. They provide crisp lines and consistent angles, and are impervious to weather. Greenstreak Group Inc. 800-325-9504. WOC booth #C7761