Tuesday, June 17, 2014

84 Lumber preps for 'blitz build' in Mongolia

Mark Reginelli, director of world trade for 84 Lumber, and two contractors are preparing to travel to Mongolia with the mission of building three model homes in three days.

It takes 75 days for the building materials to reach the country, but Reginelli and 84 Lumber have been asked by the Mongolian prime minister and government to demonstrate how quickly the U.S. style of home construction can be done and the quality of the methods.

"We call it a blitz build," Reginelli said.

84 Lumber's materials are being used to construct the first U.S.-framed subdivision in the country and if things go well with blitz build, the potential for future business could be huge. Reginelli said Mongolia is a big target for 84 Lumber and as it's been the fastest-growing economy in two of the last three years.

In Mongolia's Ger District alone there are 700,000 people living in shanty towns that can be replaced with small social housing, Reginelli said.

The company started its international department in 1998, but since the Chilean earthquake in 2010, 84 Lumber has been placing a greater focus on growing international sales in recent years.

"Following the earthquake we sent 200 homes that were given away to people in need," Reginelli said. "After we saw the impact and demand that was out there we thought we should get more involved and expand."

With its international business, Reginelli said 84 Lumber mostly ships complete house packages for the construction of small homes in the 400- to 800-square-feet range.

In 2013, he said the company's international sales were up about 20 percent from the year prior and have the potential to grow even more this year. The company has just hired a bilingual employee in the department and he said he expects to hire an additional two to three employees in the next six to nine months.

And while there are challenges with language barriers, time differences and differences in customs, Reginelli said at its core 84 Lumber is building its international business the way founder Joe Hardy and company President Maggie Hardy Magerko built its business locally.

"Whether it's national or international, creating relationships and gaining customer trust is what 84 Lumber does," he said.

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