The General Contractor
By Alicia Orr Suman
If you want to reach a general contractor, chances are you won't find him in his office. In all likelihood, he's working out of his truck.
That's the busy nature of the business—especially right now; home construction is at its highest level in 17 years, according to an article titled "Building the Perfect Career" in The Philadelphia Inquirer in October.
The recent home-building and home-remodeling boom means general contractors are making money. It also means they're spending a good deal—on items from tools and equipment, lumber, and other supplies to office products and computers.
To sell to this market, it's important to understand who general contractors are and how they operate their businesses.
"In our vertical market, which is residential construction, there are distinct types of players," notes Mark Pursell, senior staff vice president, marketing and sales, for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), a Washington, D.C.-based trade association.
"First, we have new home builders, which include high-volume builders like Toll Brothers, as well as independent builders that construct perhaps 10 to 15 homes a year. The second group consists of members of the trade … electricians, heating and air conditioning specialists, painters, and drywall guys," says Pursell.
The many subsets and specialties that fall under the "general contractor" roof mean, "This is a hard market to quantify," says Ed Krug, vice president, Chessie Lists Inc., Silver Spring, MD.
Pam Mulligan, vice president of list management for MarketTouch, in Lawrenceville, NJ, agrees. "This is for several reasons," she says. "A lot of [contractors] work from home. There are a lot of sole proprietors and small businesses. There's quite a bit of overlap in the type of work they may do. One may specialize in just painting jobs while another may do drywall and paint, and interior renovations." She estimates 80 percent to 90 percent of this market is male.