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Producer displays knack for outdoor living promotion

LoJac Materials dedicated a paver, segmental retaining wall unit and veneer stone display last month, gearing up for design advice and package sales as outdoor living trends surface in the middle Tennessee market. The 5,500-sq.-ft. array of decorative pavements, steps, and wall effects—along with pergola and veneer stone hearth—is adjacent to the sales office of the producer’s Lebanon, Tenn., headquarters. It contains in excess of 50 products, including wall units from three LoJac Materials plants, and pavers from Red River Concrete Products in Clarksville, Tenn.

“We wanted a display people are comfortable with,” says LoJac Materials Division Manager Ron Bridges. “At the opening, people gathered in the display casually and found it comfortable and warm. They were feeling a similar space would do well in their backyard. Just the kind message we had in mind.

“Our outdoor living program is in its infancy. We are developing masonry packages for kitchens, grills and cooking areas, and fire pits and seating walls for conversation areas. People like the possibilities they see and want to be able to put a dollar figure on a project.”

Unique to the market area east of Nashville, the display unfolded over the winter, with grill and countertop installations completed for a mid-May open house. Crews from LoJac Materials’ sister road-building business leveled the site’s slightly hilly terrain. The producer then enlisted customers to assist in design and construction.

Jamie Burge, of Burge Builders, and John Williams, who have teamed to offer pergolas, gazebos and hardscape installations under the business banner, Backyard Living, performed most of the paver, SRW and veneer stone placement. They followed a design and merchandising plan of local landscape architect Roundtree & Associates, which detailed both do-it-yourself and professional concepts.
The producer’s next steps involve installing a self-service kiosk with product guides and inquiry tools, plus setting up informal partnerships with grill, countertop and other suppliers outside concrete to whom customers can be referred—much like LoJac Materials does now for Backyard Living and Roundtree & Associates.

“One of the reasons we located the display here is it acts as a weekend salesman. People find it accessible and can walk around it and get a feel for outdoor living with concrete hardscapes,” says Bridges. “We want to be able to take customers through the whole process of design, referral and delivery.
“We’re primarily a block producer and brick distributor, but in today’s market have to be mindful of customer needs and expectations.”

Initial response to the Lebanon display area, coupled with signs of improvement in the housing market over 2009-10 activity, he adds, spell the potential for building two or three similar displays at satellite yards in middle Tennessee. LoJac Materials has masonry sales offices in Cookeville and Murfreesboro and a commercial showroom in Franklin. LoJac Holdings’ recent acquisition of Brown’s Concrete & Block in Dickson, Tenn., brought a fifth sales office west of Nashville—another candidate for an outdoor hardscape display.