AG Heins: Building Materials Since Anyone Can Remember
Distributor Profile with Gordon Heins, A.G. Heins Company, Tennessee
A.G. Heins is a family–owned and operated construction products distributor that began in 1920. President and Chairman Gordon Heins' grandfather founded the company, and worked until he was 95. Gordon came on-board in 1981, and worked with his father and grandfather for 3 years before his grandfather passed away.
Today, all 3 of Gordon's children are actively involved in the business, its 4th Generation, spanning 95 years.
We spoke with Gordon about the company's customers, its employees, and its long-standing history with L&M.
A.G. Heins is a building products supplier offering diverse product lines to the building materials market. In addition to product recommendations, the firm gives referrals, job quotations, and specification consultations. A.G. Heins' geographic reach is east Tennessee. The company has two locations: one in Knoxville, and one in Blountville, TN. Gordon's younger son, Alex, manages the store in Blountville. Jacob, Gordon's older son, and Anna, his daughter, work at the Knoxville location.
The company's customers include general contractors, sub-contractors, walk-in trades, concrete pros, and masons. A.G. Heins sells a diverse line of construction products covering much of the building envelope, such as concrete chemicals, slate and tile roofing materials, synthetic stucco and stone. Gordon says the diverse line of products helped the business during the tough years. Additionally, the diversification of the product line keeps the firm actively competitive versus the bigger retailers. In fact, it is one of the company's main points of differentiation.
A.G. Heins competes against others who offer narrower product lines. Another interesting point of difference: Gordon is a registered architect as is executive vice president Jon Williams. This makes communicating with architects easy—they speak their language. They're not just trying to sell products. Gordon and Jon want them to know they understand their projects. As Gordon says, “Not many architects run a buildings materials supply business.”
One of the other keys to success in this business, Gordon says, are the relationships built over time. Gordon has known Greg Schwietz for over 30 years. He values Greg's concrete industry knowledge and, more importantly, his friendship. Greg visits A.G. Heins regularly, and helps them with product expertise.
Additionally, Gordon enjoys working with LATICRETE L&M product rep Rob Poitevent. Gordon has known and worked with Rob for over 20 years. Gordon says Rob has excellent product and industry knowledge, and that he helps his guys consult in the field.
Since A.G. Heins sells most of the building envelope, they already had great familiarity with the LATICRETE L&M product line. The LATICRETE product offerings dovetail perfectly into the distributor's assorted product line.
Gordon says even though they've been in business for 95 years, tradition doesn't sell anything to anyone. No one rests on laurels. Each day, they prove their worth to their customers and prospects and partners. A.G. Heins' employees work hard to earn the sale. The major big box players coming into their market are a threat. Therefore, A.G. Heins constantly re-invests in its relationships. Gordon reiterates that being around forever doesn't guarantee you anything in the building materials supply business. There is always going to be change in the industry, even when it comes to communication. Like most leaders in the concrete business, Gordon sees changes in the marketplace. New products are always coming online. Gordon concludes, “If you're on the leading edge, you can get into a niche for awhile. But it is only good for so long. You always have to look for niches where you can get in and make some decent profit. It's always going to be a niche market. The product expertise really helps to set A.G. Heins apart as well as the relationships with the generals, subs, and architects. Price isn't everything.”
For more information about A.G. Heins, contact:
President & Chairman
A.G. Heins Company, Inc.
© 2014 L&M Construction Chemicals, Inc. | ConcreteNews Winter 2014.