It’s no secret that the capital city region is going gangbusters. Go away for a week’s holiday, come back and there’s a whole new street of homes where your grandfather once picked blueberries. So it’s no surprise, therefore, that St. John’s was chosen as the site for a new building supply business format by New Brunswick-based Kent.
Its Kelsey Drive contractor supply facility of almost 100,000 square feet was officially opened Wednesday amid a handsome spread of salads, hamburgers, hotdogs and slathers of mustard and relish. Building contractors strolled through the huge 80,000-square foot store and its adjoining covered loading facility, itself the size of a reasonable hockey arena at 16,000 square feet.
When the idea of a single complex to serve contractors was first being committed to paper, Kent executives surveyed near and far for anything similar.
“The vision we had did not exist anywhere else,” says Kent regional marketing manager Kelly Caines.
“In the course of developing our plans, we acquired valuable input from local contractors through focus groups,” she explains. “Effectively we asked them, ‘what would you want to see in a contractor supply service?’ We took their answers, priorized them and in many areas, this new facility reflects their input.”
If Kent was to build such a store, where would it be? Easy — St. John’s. Things are happening here on a large scale, Caines points out. New homes are being built in the hundreds. Other major supply businesses were setting up shop. And then there was the new Kelsey Drive business region just off Kenmount Road with its handy arterials and accesses.
The sales representative for the new facility is Darren Hudson. “If I had to describe this service in a nutshell it would be that we are completely set up for the contracting business,” he says. “You could also say that we provide everything from the foundation to the roof — or from anchor bolts to paint.”
With more than 25 years’ experience in the local contracting field, Hudson takes on the challenge of bringing the message of Kent Contractor Supply to builders everywhere in the region.
Among the most notable service aspects of Kent Contractor Supply are speed and convenience. For builders, time is money.
“We know this,” says Caines, “so we have provided much wider aisles than regular stores and our carts are larger. As well, we have a special exit route where contractor vehicles, having taken on their orders, can get on their way promptly by a ‘Pro Pass’ when buying on account.
At the front of the building there is a whole battery of terminals for ordering. But there are also conventional checkouts, because the homeowner seeking materials to build a simple bookshelf is also welcome.
The new store stocks a vast inventory, with floor-to-ceiling quantities of drywall, paints, doors, mouldings, nails and more.
Store manager Andy Sullivan points to the huge indoor loading “arena.” Trucks can be marshalled in, supplies can be put aboard, the driver can access the main store for additional items and when he’s ready, he’s on his way with no interruption.
“We keep six to eight weeks inventory,” Sullivan points out. It’s a fact that demonstrates the capacity of the facility to stock and to sell anticipated huge volumes. On the outdoor property adjoining the building there is a holding yard. As material goes out, more comes in.
Kent operates a centralized fleet of 13 vehicles here, three of which are boom trucks. The lane markings, entrances and exits together give the impression of a terminal with everything designed and ordered for smooth and constant running of contractor and company vehicles, and private cars and pickups.
Then there’s the power tool department.
“Here we have many of the different items that builders need,” says Sullivan, pointing to rotating hammer drills used in concrete work and a jackhammer rig.
Nothing seems to have been overlooked. There is even a contractor meeting room with Wi-Fi and — another essential — their own brand of coffee, via Jumping Bean.