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Consolidating their telecom infrastructure also ensured this building-materials leader was ready for COVID


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Although they’ve only been in business since 2011, Foundation Building Materials has already become one of the most successful and trusted providers of construction materials for residential and commercial building projects in the US and Canada. With hundreds of stores across both countries serving tens of thousands of customers, FBM is making a major contribution to North America’s building and construction efforts.

With that in mind, FBM justifiably earned the “essential services” designation as the COVID lockdowns went into effect. Thousands of employees continued their daily operations at the company’s warehouses and distribution centers, while thousands of others continued driving FBM’s delivery vehicles to customers at construction sites. Commercial buildings, apartment complexes, homes, and other structures still needed to be built, pandemic or not.

But the shelter-in-place orders did affect hundreds of Foundation Building Materials employees—in sales, support, marketing, finance, legal, HR, IT, etc.—who were working in the company’s corporate offices. Fortunately, their sudden transition to remote work was entirely seamless and did not disrupt the business’s operations at all.

 One major reason for this was the company’s cloud communications solution, which FBM had rolled out years earlier.

Migrating to the cloud to consolidate communications

As Chief Information Officer Wasi Ahmed explains, the catalyst for FBM’s migration to RingCentral was a need to create a single communications environment for the entire company. FBM’s rapid growth, as a result of both opening more stores and acquiring smaller companies, created a decentralized and hard-to-manage telecom infrastructure. In fact, he describes it not as an infrastructure at all—but rather as a “mishmash” comprising dozens of different phone systems, service levels, and carrier contracts.

Wasi points out that FBM’s move to the cloud was about improving communications across the company, creating consistent and reliable call quality in every region the company serves, and eliminating the wasted hours—indeed, days—that his team had to spend every month reviewing and reconciling the mountain of local telecom bills from across the US and Canada.

“We enjoyed all of those benefits we were hoping for when we switched to RingCentral,” he explains. “And although COVID didn’t even factor into our decision, because we went looking for a cloud solution a couple of years before the pandemic, it turns out the ability to quickly shift our staff to working from home was probably the single most significant benefit we’ve ever seen from RingCentral.”

More prepared than they could’ve hoped for during a lockdown

When it became apparent that FBM’s corporate offices were falling under the lockdown mandates, Wasi and his team realized right away that this forced change to their operations wasn’t going to have negative consequences—even in the short-term—that would be facing other businesses.

“From a communications and productivity standpoint, we saw no negative impact at all from the work-from-home orders,” he explains. “Our people all had the RingCentral apps on their phones and computers, which meant we could communicate by phone and even by audio and video conference, no matter where we were. That helped keep us stay connected as a company and also meant we didn’t lose a step in being able to serve customers.” 

The big picture: Leveraging tech for stronger growth

Moving to cloud communications is also supporting a larger strategic initiative at Foundation Building Materials. As Wasi explains, the company is re-evaluating all of the manual, legacy processes across the organization and looking for ways to leverage technology to improve operations.

“We’ve built an e-commerce platform, rolled out a mobile tracking app for customers, and replaced a lot of our paper-based processes with digital solutions,” he explains. “RingCentral has been the ideal answer to our legacy telecom challenges, and I foresee us leveraging the unified communication features in RingCentral even more to improve our processes as we grow.” 

Originally published Mar 18, 2021

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