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James Iles

Inside Interview with the Buyer of Supply.com for a College Education

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By James Iles, Dec 10, 2015
  1. James Iles

    James Iles NamePros Writer PRO Gold Account VIP Trusted Blogger

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    At the end of November 2015, National Building Supply made a big announcement. They were rebranding the company to Supply.com - a memorable, generic one-word .COM domain name that they hoped would help with the extraordinary growth of their company.

    At the time, CEO Marcus Morgan said in a press release: “We’re changing our name because we’re growing. We’re adding new products to our catalog, new features to our website, and this year alone, we’ve added over 50 new faces to our team. We’re confident that SUPPLY.com is a name we can grow into – and most importantly, a name that trade professionals can trust.”

    I was interested to know more about why National Building Supply had rebranded to Supply.com and how had they went about acquiring the name? I reached out to Supply.com and they were more than happy to share the story of their acquisition that resulted in the previous owner receiving enough money to pay his grandchildren's college tuition fees.

    The interview below is a collaboration with Supply.com's Content Strategist Carey Tucker and includes quotes directly from Co-Founder & CMO Heath Hyneman, and Matt Hobbs, Supply.com's Director of User Experience.


    NP:Can you give us a brief description of Supply.com and what you do?


    SUPPLY: SUPPLY.com, formerly National Builder Supply, is a privately-held e-commerce and distribution company dedicated to revolutionizing the historically traditional plumbing supply industry. We offer a full-service solution to trade professionals (builders, contractors, designers, plumbers, and remodelers), or ‘pros,’ and homeowners across the US. Our unique blend of customer service, technology tools, and deep inventory makes doing business with us easy. It is our goal to help trade professionals run their businesses better so they can focus on taking care of their customers.


    NP: Congratulations on the acquisition of the domain name Supply.com. How did you find out that Supply.com was available to purchase? Did you actively seek out the name, or was it a domain name that was offered to you?

    SUPPLY: In 2010, Heath Hyneman, Co-Founder & CMO, and the company’s leadership scanned the brands of the wholesale market.

    “In doing a quick survey of the wholesale market, it was quickly apparent that everyone contained the name ‘supply,’ including the business we were with prior to National Builder Supply, called Covenant Supply. When we looked into the word supply, it became clear that it is synonymous with selling to professionals in multiple industries. It just seemed like a perfect word,” recalled Hyneman. “When we checked out www.supply.com, we saw that it was a California-based business that sold used telephone equipment. We had a hunch that they may be underutilizing its potential.”

    “Their contact information was readily available on the website, so I picked up the phone and called the owner, Lee. We connected over our shared love of business and he happened to be towards the tail end of his business career while we were at the early stages of ours. We expressed our interest in the Supply.com domain name and he concurred that it would be a great fit for our business as well as a portfolio of others,” he continued. “He named his price; but at the time, we determined that the value of the domain was beyond our reach, so we went on with our day. In the years that followed, we would periodically check in with Lee on an annual basis. As our business continued to grow, we reached a point where the cost of the domain became a little more feasible. We decided to get serious about it 18 months ago and the rest is history.”


    NP: Can you reveal how much you paid to acquire Supply.com?

    SUPPLY: We contractually can’t disclose the value; however, Lee informed us that he is paying for his grandchildren’s college tuition through the sale of Supply.com.


    NP: Can you give us details of the negotiations which lead to you agreeing upon a price?

    SUPPLY: “When we first started the dialogue with Lee, the former owner of Supply.com, 5 years ago, there was a loose set price that we felt could be discounted to some degree. The true negotiation really manifested itself in our willingness to be patient and the fact that the market did not pull it out of his hands. This combination made him more willing to meet us in the middle as time went on,” said Hyneman. “There wasn’t a back and forth of counter offers because we had carried the initial data point in our heads for so long. It was easy to consummate the agreement when we showed up with the intent to get it.”


    NP: Would you have considered paying more than you did for Supply.com?

    SUPPLY: “When we decided to go after the domain 18 months ago, we would not have considered paying more than we did for Supply.com. Given the time value of money and the organization’s growth, we might have had an appetite to pay slightly more, but it would’ve been much further down the road,” explained Hyneman.

    “Looking back, we definitely did not underpay. But, in our eyes, the dollars spent on acquiring the domain were negligible compared with the dollars we could create with Supply.com. Also, we didn’t have to look through the prism of buying it to resell it. Consequently, we were able to put a value on it for our business because we knew we weren’t in it to flip it.”


    NP: Up until recently, you were known as National Builder Supply. Why did you decide to rebrand to Supply.com?

    SUPPLY: National Builder Supply was a name that limited us to only one of our customer segments - builders. We also serve contractors, designers, remodelers, resellers, and wholesalers, as well as homeowners and DIYers. SUPPLY.com is a domain name that has strong brand authority and also allows us to expand our product offering, as well as reach customers who’ve never heard of us before.

    We changed our name because we’re growing. We’re adding new faces to our team, new products to our catalog, and new features to our website. We’re confident that SUPPLY.com is a name we can grow into - and most importantly, a name that trade professionals and homeowners can trust.


    NP: Did you ever consider acquiring and rebranding to any other domain name, or was it always going to be Supply.com?

    SUPPLY: No, we were completely content to remain National Builder Supply had the sale of SUPPLY.com not worked out.


    NP: Was it a group decision to ultimately rebrand as Supply.com, or was this idea set into motion by one person in particular?

    SUPPLY: Years’ worth of conversations took place that led to our decision to rebrand. We would’ve never pursued the domain property without organizational commitment to rebranding. The brand authority of the Supply.com domain and its relevance to our industry presented an opportunity that no one on our team could deny.


    NP: Do you expect the domain name and the rebranding to have a direct, positive impact on your sales?

    SUPPLY: Our ability to provide our customers with personalized service and online tools is what has fuelled, and will continue to fuel, our growth. Having said that, we do feel that SUPPLY.com is a powerful brand name that will absolutely have a direct, positive impact on sales.


    NP: Have you received any feedback from your customers regarding the rebranding? If so, has the reaction been positive?

    SUPPLY: The feedback from our customers has been overwhelmingly positive. A number of customers have congratulated us on the name change and the large opportunity that lies before us. They’re also genuinely curious about our growth and have asked questions like, ‘Are y’all getting bigger?’, and, ‘Are y’all selling different types of items now?’ All in all, pros and homeowners alike seem interested in and appreciative of our growth as they feel like we’re investing in them as well as our own company.


    NP: In your press release, you say that Supply.com is a name that trade professionals can trust. Can you elaborate on why you feel that Supply.com is a trustworthy name?

    SUPPLY: The plumbing and lighting supply industries are largely based on relationships. E-commerce sites offering the products that pros need have been around for quite some time. However, even in 2015, pros still turn to brick and mortar supply houses and showrooms because of the trust they’ve built with those vendors. A cornerstone of our business is our ability to foster relationships and build trust with pros. SUPPLY.com is a name that opens the door to pros who’ve never heard of us before.

    Heath Hyneman furthered this sentiment by saying, “The word supply is everywhere in the plumbing industry and we even saw it in some of our biggest competitors’ brand names like Winsupply, HD Supply, as well as many others. That’s why we think it’s trustworthy - it’s a word that’s synonymous with our industry. SUPPLY.com is just simpler and stronger than National Builder Supply, which also had ‘supply’ in it.”


    NP: Do you have any advice for any companies who may be considering acquiring a high value premium domain name?

    SUPPLY: Take time in selecting the right name for your product or service offering. What’s in a name? Everything. Your brand name needs to represent who you are, what you believe in, as well as the products and/or services you sell. It’s how you introduce yourself to your target audience and how they remember you. Your domain name is an extension of your brand and is vital for the aforementioned reasons.

    “If you’re considering acquiring a high value, premium domain name that requires you to rebrand, strategic planning is key. Our rebranding process was months in the making. It required documentation and a clear plan of who was responsible for each aspect of the rebrand,” said Matt Hobbs, Director of UX. “Assign a project lead who can coordinate tasks within different functional areas of the company. Document everything and over communicate to make sure everyone’s on the same page. Google Docs/Sheets are great for collaboration and keeping everyone posted. We also had weekly 15-minute stand-ups leading up to the launch of SUPPLY.com to make sure everyone was doing what needed to get done. Don’t underestimate the complexity of details to manage in a project like this.”

    Heath Hyneman also recommended securing the help of an IP attorney. “We ended up with an IP attorney with specific expertise in domain transfers. He facilitated a letter of intent that allowed us to have 12 months to structure the appropriate lines of financing. Without Lee’s willingness to enter the contractual bonds of that letter of intent, we would have never had the basis to support the financing effort.”

    --

    Thanks to Carey, Heath, and Matt of Supply.com for participating in our Inside Interviews series. These answers are in-depth and provide excellent advice to both domain investors and business owners alike. Aside from Supply.com's main website, you may be interested in visiting inside.supply.com to find out more about one of the fastest growing companies in their industry.

    You can also find Supply.com on Twitter @SupplySays.



    Inside Interviews is a blog series profiling the buyers of high-value domain names. Find out their motives, negotiation tactics, and their opinions on popular domaining topics only on the NamePros Blog.
     
    The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
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  4. James Iles

    About The Author — James Iles

    Writer for NamePros.com. For all inquiries relating to stories and interviews, please email: [email protected]

    This is James Iles's 109th blog post on NamePros. View all blog posts

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  5. Comments (11)

  6. Keith DeBoer

    Keith DeBoer Active Member PRO VIP

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    Precious insights into the premium domain acquisition process! I also highly recommend this interview at Domain Sherpa with Jamie the CEO of DoorBot regarding his acquisition of Ring.com
     
  7. James Iles

    James Iles NamePros Writer PRO Gold Account VIP Trusted Blogger

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    Thanks Keith. I also did an interview with Jamie quite a while ago... Available on the NamePros Blog.
     
  8. Keith DeBoer

    Keith DeBoer Active Member PRO VIP

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    Oh, I'd like to read it. Do you have a link?
     
  9. James Iles

    James Iles NamePros Writer PRO Gold Account VIP Trusted Blogger

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  10. Keith DeBoer

    Keith DeBoer Active Member PRO VIP

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  11. Weber

    Weber Active Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    So, it sold for a college education or more than one? :roll:
    "grand children's college tuition"

     
  12. nvdomains

    nvdomains Established Member

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    It is always nice to know how end users think. Still, many end users do not this kind of awareness levels about domain names and their importance.

    Good interview and nice insights.
     
  13. James Iles

    James Iles NamePros Writer PRO Gold Account VIP Trusted Blogger

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    Thanks for your comment @nvdomains. The team at Supply.com were very knowledgeable about the value that the domain could have to their business.
     
  14. Smarttrader

    Smarttrader sitetrader.net

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    Good interview, very useful. Thx!
     
  15. pablohc86

    pablohc86 Active Member VIP

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    A good insight is that they never thought to rebrand to NBS.com (National Builder Supply) or other similar achronym so trending right by now. Thanks for this interview
     
  16. Haroon Basha

    Haroon Basha IZUQ.COM Gold Account VIP

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    The name SUPPLY.COM will change everything good for the company. They have rightly invested on a domain name that will bring big fortune to the company in near future.
     
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