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TOOLBX, the Uber Eats of construction apps for building material delivery

Peter Kenter
TOOLBX, the Uber Eats of construction apps for building material delivery
SUBMITTED PHOTO — The TOOLBX app is designed to connect builders with the materials they need quickly. The inspiration for the app was to seek a solution to the inefficiency created by having workers leave a job site on unscheduled supply runs, says the app’s founder Erik Bornstein.

Erik Bornstein, founder and chief executive officer of TOOLBX, reckons that contractors who send construction workers to fetch building supplies two to three times per week will quickly rack up $15,000 in unnecessary labour costs. His value proposition: contact TOOLBX via app to have building materials quickly delivered to your jobsite.

Bornstein comes by his construction credentials honestly with more than 15 years in the industry.

“I started at the very bottom, literally sweeping floors on construction sites,” he recalls.

Bornstein eventually became a partner in a company that performed high-end commercial contracting and built and renovated custom homes, then co-founded a contracting business that grew to about 100 employees.

“I began to think about the idea behind TOOLBX a little more than three years ago when I became frustrated by the inefficiency created by workers leaving the jobsite and taking vehicles with them on unscheduled supply runs,” he says.

“The competition for trades showing up is also very high, so in many cases you have to accommodate them when they can show up. If materials aren’t there when they need them, they may go to another job.”

Bornstein also notes that if contractors order all their materials at once, they may need to move that material around the site multiple times. At the same time, contractors must deal with an increasingly diverse array of suppliers.

 

They pick every last piece of lumber with the same careful eye that you would,

— Erik Bornstein

TOOLBX

 

“TOOLBX creates a place to order and manage all of your materials under one roof, so you don’t have to manage multiple accounts,” he says. “And you can get those building materials when you need them.”

TOOLBX serves the Greater Toronto Area, although it’s looking for other cities to which it can expand. Contractors can contact TOOLBX via app, phone or online to order materials.

The company doesn’t warehouse any of the supplies it provides. Instead, it maintains relationships with suppliers so it can pick up materials at a moment’s notice.

“With a lot of suppliers, we have pickers stationed on the premises,” says Bornstein. “Our technology translates the order from the contractor into a specific list for that picker, so that they can quickly select the required order and have it ready when a driver arrives. All of our pickers go through a vigorous training process, so they pick every last piece of lumber with the same careful eye that you would.”

The company advertises competitive pricing on materials and charges a variable delivery fee, based on distance, load size and the speed of delivery. That speed ranges from next day to same day or within two hours. Customers are incentivized to choose next-day delivery through delivery fee discounts.

TOOLBX customers range from large commercial contractors to small generals. The company will supply any type of building material requested — it will even find suppliers for special orders. But its bread and butter is dimensional lumber, plywood, drywall, taping supplies, fencing, decking and insulation.

A typical order delivered by pickup truck or van weighs 4,000 lbs. or less, but flatbed trailers are available to supply larger orders. Contractors can use the app to specify whether they want curbside delivery or have the driver move the material to a specific location on the worksite. They can also request TOOLBX drivers to move material from one jobsite to another, or to pick up an order from the contractor’s own supplier.

With its purpose-built app, TOOLBX is inevitably compared to ride sharing services like Uber, but Bornstein disagrees.

“We’re not the Uber of construction because we’re not helping out with the building,” he says. “We’re more like Uber Eats.”

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