Foundation Building Materials
This Top Building-Materials Distributor Improved its Operations with RingCentral—While Cutting its Telecom Costs More than 15%
Santa Ana, CA
Santa Ana, CA
Foundation Building Materials (NYSE: FBM) is a leading construction materials distributor serving the commercial construction and residential building trades throughout the United States and Canada. The company specializes in the local supply of building materials such as drywall, steel studs, lath, plaster, stucco, acoustical ceilings, insulation, fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP), and exterior insulation finish systems (EIFS).
If you’ve ever watched a patch of land in your city slowly transform into new houses or an office park, you might have wondered: Where do all of those materials come from? If the construction took place in the last decade, there’s a good chance part of the answer is Foundation Building Materials.
Foundation Building Materials is a top distributor of construction materials—drywall, ceilings, stucco, insulation, etc.—for construction companies and contractors across the United States and Canada.
Ironically, although the company is international, FBM owes much of its success to its unique, local focus on the many regions it serves. The company developed a competitive advantage by making sure it offers materials that reflect the unique needs of customers in a given area—needs that might differ due to climate, building codes, or the varying types of construction in that region.
And the company is indeed enjoying tremendous success. After just a decade in business, Foundation Building Materials has already become an industry leader—serving 30,000 customers, at more than 300 stores, and generating billions in sales. The company is even publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol FBM.
But the company’s impressive geographic expansion—resulting both from opening new locations and acquiring smaller companies—eventually led to a telecommunications infrastructure that was unmanageable.
From dealing with dozens of telecom contracts… to just 1
In its early days, FBM was laser-focused on its core mission: becoming the industry’s most trusted, most reliable source of residential and commercial building materials. As a result, the team did not devote much attention to a long-term telecom plan. Instead, they addressed their growing telecom needs organically, adding local phone service for each new store they opened.
“As we crossed the 125, 150, 175-store thresholds, we were developing a growing mishmash of every type of phone solution you can imagine,” explains Wasi Ahmed, FBM’s Chief Information Officer.
We had different PBX systems, small VoIP providers at a few locations, and dozens of contracts with local telecom companies. It was such a mess, so complicated, that it took my team at least a week each month just to reconcile all of our communications invoices.
A related challenge was the amount of outside support required to manage all of these different systems across the company’s wide geographic footprint—particularly because most FBM stores’ phone solutions were on-prem and couldn’t be administered effectively from a central location.
“It’s not like we have a large, dedicated IT staff at each of our stores,” Wasi explains. “When things went wrong with a given location’s phone system, or if the system needed updating, we had to pay to send out third-party IT support. The costs of that alone were astronomical.”
As the costs, inconsistent levels of call quality and reliability, and other phone-related issues became more significant, FBM’s executives decided to consolidate their communications infrastructure companywide—and find a single cloud-based solution for the entire organization.
Hundreds of locations, thousands of employees… 1 communications solution
Although the company was initially motivated to consolidate its telecom systems mainly for administrative reasons—saving time on IT support, simplifying billing and accounts payable, etc.—migrating to RingCentral’s unified cloud solution also led to many improvements in the company’s operations.
“Since rolling out RingCentral, we haven’t had a single issue with phone downtime, which happened periodically at various locations with our old, local systems,” says Wasi. “This rock-solid phone reliability is so important to our business because we’re a 24/7 shop, and we need to be able to take orders and communicate with customers at all hours, every day.”
Additionally, because FBM’s staff can now take and make calls on their business numbers from anywhere—using the RingCentral app on their smartphones and computers—the company has found its employees are communicating more easily with coworkers and responding more quickly to customers. Employees no longer need to be in the office to receive or place a call, or to join an audio or video conference. They can do it all from anywhere, on the RingCentral app.
What makes all of these improvements to the company’s productivity and collaboration even more amazing, Wasi points out, is that FBM is also saving money at the same time. “Since we’ve replaced all of these old telecom systems with RingCentral, we’ve lowered our overall communications costs between 15% and 25%.”
Helping to facilitate growth and expansion
FBM’s experience with RingCentral has been so positive that Wasi and the other executives view it as a factor in all of the company’s future plans. “We’re expanding all the time now, both through opening more of our own stores and through acquisitions,” he says. “Before RingCentral, the telecommunications aspect of this growth was difficult and costly.”
“But now we don’t need to worry about that anymore. We can bring a new location online without any investment in phone hardware or finding the right local carrier or IT consultants to support the system. RingCentral manages it all for us in the cloud.”
We don’t see RingCentral as just a better phone system, although it is. It’s a whole collaboration environment… phone and video and messaging in one place… and it’s connecting us across divisions, branches, even countries. RingCentral is really helping us become a more cohesive business.”