If my research is correct, Hood Distribution is a company that distributes wood, and McEwen Group is our local franchise of this company, so I don’t believe the following information applies to all Hood Distribution facilities, this is just my experience with this local facility in Apopka.
After a previous project posting I received a few suggestions on places to go for wood, other than the big box stores. Last year when I first joined the central florida’s woodworkers guild I went to Hood Distribution, McEwen Group (which I’ll call McEwen from now on) because their address was printed on the back of my membership card. I stopped by within their business hours and asked about information about the lumber yard, I was nervous because I didn’t really know what I was talking about or doing I had just started woodworking a month or so prior.
When I entered the main office an older heftier woman asked if she could help me, I said sure and explained that I was a new woodworker and that I had taken this up as a hobby and wanted to come buy and see what is available. The woman sighed and acted like I had asked for her kidneys or something, and told me that they don’t deal consumers and that you need to have a business to open an account with them. This in itself is understandable, but they way the woman presented herself seemed very rude to me but that’s ok I left the facility.
At the next wood workers guild meeting I mentioned what had happened to some of the members and I was told that as a member of the guild I shouldn’t have any problems purchasing with them. And to think back I didn’t mention I was a member at the time it just didn’t cross my mind so maybe they did have special exception for guild members.
I was still disappointed about my first visit that I didn’t go back, at least not until yesterday. Yesterday I decided to give McEwen another shot and I would make an point to mention the woodworkers guild and their recommendation to visit the facility. When I arrived it was around 3:30 and I entered the main office a nice gentleman asked if he could help me. I explained I was a hobby woodworker that has been doing this for about a year and was looking for local places to get wood besides home depot and lowes. I also mentioned that I was a member of the central florida’s woodworkers guild and that it was recommended I come by and check out the facility.
The gentleman apologized and said that they don’t do tours after 2pm but offered me a catalog and then put me in contact with a woman named Holly. She was a new sales rep there and I could tell was eager to make a sale, which would work out great because I was eager to spend some money. She gave me her card and said I should come back in the morning to check out the facility and they’d be happy to have someone show me around. I asked for a price list or some print out of what they had available, all I got was a catalog with no prices and she told me that they carry some different items than the catalog. I shook her hand and left with a better feeling about McEwen and decided to check them out on my way into work in the morning.
On my way into work I stopped by McEwen and the same gentleman I spoke too yesterday was there and greeted me and said that I should talk to a man outside about a tour and pointed to a group of 2 men standing outside of the main office. I stepped outside the office and introduced myself to the two men and explained who I was and I was a member of the woodworkers guild. Once the man heard that I was a hobbyist he jumped in stating that they only sell to businesses. I explained that I was told to come out and ask for a tour and that my fellow guild members recommended this place, their address is even on the card (I even showed him my membership card at this point). The man just did not look interested in spending time with me so I said I’m sorry to have wasted your time and left.
The truth is I’m sorry they wasted my time, it seems their sales staff are eager to sell to anyone, but the rest of their staff doesn’t want to put any effort into helping anyone that isn’t going to spend several thousand a day with them. I understand they’re setup if they are only set up to work with businesses that is perfectly reasonable I can accept that. I just wish I wouldn’t have wasted a second trip visiting them this morning because I was told by the sales staff they would help me.
At my next woodworkers guild meeting I’m going to make a motion to remove their address from our cards because I think it’s confusing to new members to have a distribution place that won’t sell to hobbyist on our cards.
Next up I will try Quality Plywood Specialties and Pro Builder up in Sanford.
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