Becwood Purchasing’s strong relationships with designers, clients and vendors
are at the center of the interior purchasing company’s success.
By Jim Harris
Becwood Purchasing’s attention to detail makes it a go-to partner for many large hospitality companies as well as multi family apartment units. “We know, for example, how high a barstool should be,” says Susie Leonard, director of purchasing for the Baltimore-based company. “If, as a purchasing agent, we don’t pay attention to the height of a counter when ordering a barstool, our clients will end up paying more money to send that barstool back.”
The turnkey interior purchasing company’s detail-oriented approach is the result of its partnership with sister company and design firm RD Jones and Associates. RD Jones provides Becwood with copies of its design drawings and assists the company’s project managers in ordering goods that will fit those specifications.
“Our design expertise and relationships within the industry allow us to understand the nuances of where design and operations meet while also aggressively negotiating prices on furniture, fixtures and equipment on our clients’ behalf,” Leonard adds.
Becwood regularly completes projects on behalf of hospitality companies including Capstar Hotels & Resorts, Crescent Hotels & Resorts, Marriott and OBM International. Roughly 40 percent of the company’s work is on behalf of hospitality companies. The rest of the company’s work is in the multifamily residential sector, where it works on behalf of clients such as The Cordish Companies, Bozzuto Development Corp. and ZOM Development.
The company’s work begins when it receives a spec book from its client or RD Jones. Becwood then solicits bids from vendors of the products specified in the spec book, and analyzes those bids based on the vendors’ past work as well as the quality of their products. The company also evaluates the work of vendors specified by the project designer.
After receiving bids and evaluating vendors, the company recommends specific vendors to its clients. Becwood selects from among manufacturers of casegoods, carpeting, wallcovering, lighting, fabrics, drapery, upholstered furniture and artwork for its custom-designed projects.
Becwood has regularly worked with a number of fixture providers including Project Light, a decorative lighting vendor. The companies other partnerships include working with Mandy Li, a case goods and metal goods vendor; Unifactor, a metal goods provider; Hallmark Lighting and Zenith Rugs. “These are companies that we know do very good work,” Leonard says.
Once items are selected, Becwood works with vendors to ensure they are stocked in client warehouses three months ahead of the planned installation. The company’s project managers track shipping progress using an online matrix. In addition, project managers make daily phone calls to vendors and freight forwarders regarding missing items.
A Growing Business
The company was founded in 1999 in Baltimore by owner Rebecca D. Jones as a certified minority and woman-owned business. Becwood has grown significantly since Leonard joined the company three years ago. “At the time, we were only doing a handful of jobs a year, now we have three senior project managers working on three jobs a piece at any given time,” she says. “We have grown our reputation, and the industry we serve is booming right now.”
In response to its growth, the company this year opened a new office in Chevy Chase, Md. Both the Chevy Chase and Baltimore offices are located near the headquarters of Cordish Properties as well as other clients in the Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., area.
Leonard credits the company’s ongoing success to its staff. Many of Becwood’s employees have worked there for five or more years. The company provides ongoing training to employees.
When adding staff, the company typically looks to its employees to recommend potential employees. “We offer a bonus to employees who recommend someone we hire,” Leonard says. “Nine times out of ten, we’ve found that is better than picking up the newspaper or using Google; people aren’t going to put their neck on the line to recommend someone who isn’t good.”
Leonard says she takes pride in the sense of ownership each of the company’s project managers take in their work. “They treat each project like it’s their baby, and are fully responsible for it,” she says. “The relationships our PMs and myself have with our owners and design firms are the most important thing here; we set differences aside to get the job done.”