Attendees of the Plumbing Manufacturers Institute's second Information Technology Forum May 14-15 heard presentations ranging from Web site design to e-business. However, the presentation that produced the most discussion was given by Jim Jefferies, vice president/logistics of USBuild.

Jefferies characterized the USBuild model as a new "e-chain solution" for large production home builders. In this model, all buying decisions are made by the builder. Contractors bid labor only to their customers, and wholesale distributors are taken out of the loop. Replacing traditional distributors is USBuild, which provides a "staging area" for receiving product from manufacturers only a few days before material is needed on the jobsite.

USBuild packages up "kits" for each jobsite with all the product needed, then delivers to the site.

Many forum attendees were skeptical about the value USBuild would bring to the table.