Eagle Sealants, located in Kitchener, Ontario, was created to address a need in the local business community. Local contractors and construction companies had been increasingly approaching the owners of Eagle Sealants for products that were not available for delivery and so began the distribution aspect of the company.
It’s been 20 years, and the Eagle Sealants suite of products has grown and adapted to the company’s market. The business, which originally just carried caulking and spray foam, managed to gain a share of the market with customers who would normally go to a siding supplier to get building products.
Nowadays, the company provides high-quality name brand products and also offers other products to their valued customers including adhesives, fire stops and devices, glazing tapes, foam applicators, silicones and tools and ladders, among other products.
Meeting a need
Joe Damaren, President of Eagle Sealants, is part of a very small team that essentially runs the entire operation. He says that business has grown to accommodate the market, and that the company is successful because it offers superior service (the team operates on off-hours) from qualified people.
Damaren says that cost is not always an obstacle for customers—it’s more the accessibility of the products themselves. “Nowadays, it’s not the cost of the product, it’s how much to get it to you,” he explains, demonstrating the reason for distribution services. “Years ago, as we were out on the road and delivering our caulking and spray foam we saw a need for other products like construction tape and poly products, in addition to some roofing products. It made sense then to fill a vehicle and make the trips worth it so that we wouldn’t have to charge a delivery fee.”
The company runs efficiently by only making trips with a full vehicle, especially because of the breadth of their service area—from Windsor to North Bay. Eagle Sealants has a reputation for the highest quality products and will make it worth customers’ while to look at products that may not always be the cheapest, but will work the best.
Challenges of a small business
Damaren says that for his business, attracting customers is not only a challenge, but instead “getting the message out” is the harder part of selling the company’s products. “Products are always changing. By the time we get the catalogue printed, it is almost out of date. What you can get from Eagle Sealants is about 95 per cent what’s there in the catalogue,” he says.
The other challenge, but something that the company is happy to address, is their reach. Although wide spread geographically, Damaren and his team have streamlined so that each product run is worth it. As any small business owner understands, “It’s tough for a small business guy to say no to business.”
Luckily, the Eagle Sealants team is accustomed to these challenges, and in order to keep things in top shape, “most of it boils down to service,” Damaren reasons.
“Anyone can sell you a tube of caulking. But more important to customers is asking us ‘I have a problem—how can I fix it,’ and we do. Some products we’ve sold we have run around for, looking for them for our customers,” he adds.
The company is flexible and adaptable, and as the market fluctuates so does its line of products. “Caulking and spray foam outsells everything,” Damaren says. In the last few years, new construction has slowed down but renovations have picked up. Roofing activities have dropped off but the opportunity to attract commercial customers has grown.
Now, Eagle Sealants is offering more environmentally friendly products, but Damaren says the demand isn’t quite there yet for sustainable products, mostly because of the higher cost. “Customers aren’t demanding [environmentally-friendly products] because of cost, except when dealing with LEED projects,” he explains.
However, the company expects to stay nimble and stay with the shift to sustainable products as it becomes more necessary.
Eagle Sealants as an organization has always operated lean. The company sticks to its strategy to keep highly experienced people on the road delivering products, while maintaining a small staff. “We have a staff of three and we cover all of Ontario,” Damaren says.
“We are the salesmen, the technical experts, the delivery people and the collection department,” he adds. “We come in, set up schedules for particular areas, and when it’s not a busy day we do our cold calls. And when our customers know we’re coming to their area, the orders fly in.”
The company runs like the operations it serves: with safety and efficiency at the paramount. The strategy is simple. “The guy on the construction site doesn’t want a lot of fluff. He wants to come in, knows what he’s looking for, and get what he needs. A lot of our customers are professionals. They know what they’re doing and they are very specific. First we try to figure out what they’re doing and then we find the product,” Damaren concludes.
All in all, the strategy has worked so far, and the orders keep coming in to Eagle Sealants. Look for their vehicles at a construction site near you.