Case Study – Tindell’s Building Materials


Building a Green Future with Environmentally Friendly Solutions


Tindell’s Building Materials began in 1907 as a sawmill business. The company now owns building materials sales and warehousing facilities in Knoxville, LaFollette, Oak Ridge, Sevierville, Maryville, and Cleveland, Tennessee. These facilities include a truss manufacturing plant, a millwork division, an installed sales division, and a commodity center. Tindell’s mission is to always set a new standard of excellence for its customers, employees, and suppliers as the service and quality leader in the building materials industry by doing the right thing right the first time.

Tindell’s saw the market moving slowly toward a greener building environment when it started getting queries about how to build a greener product from the contractors it supplied. Because of that, several of the company’s employees obtained LEED certifications. LEED certification is the recognized standard for measuring building sustainability, and achieving the certification is the best way to demonstrate that a building project is truly “green.”

The company also became FSC certified to lead its industry in environmental initiatives. FSC insists on rigorous tracking of certified products to carry the label. However, making a conscious effort to seek out and market green products didn’t stop with building materials. Tindell’s Building Materials viewed its efforts as a company-wide commitment that included green back-office solutions.


As a fourth-generation building materials business, Tindell’s Building Materials has evolved over the years and currently has five retail stores that primarily serve the professional contractor.

“In the last three years, we’ve made many changes due to the state of this industry,” said Roger Bates, chief financial officer for Tindell’s Building Materials. “Part of those changes involved looking at everything that we spend money on to make us more efficient internally and externally. In all we do, we try to incorporate being good environmental stewards, which means part of our changes involved going paperless wherever possible and not doing duplicate work. For example, we would get a vendor invoice, and we might make a copy of it, process it through Accounts Payable, scan it, and then fax it to somebody if there’s a question. So we were handling the same document multiple times, which led us to look at all of our processes and equipment.”

Every location had multiple copiers, printers, and fax machines. As a fiscally responsible company, the cost was a consideration when Tindell’s started looking at ways to improve office efficiency. The company was leaning toward purchasing a competitive product instead of staying with its long-time dealer, Centriworks, attracted by the fact that the brand they were looking at was so inexpensive. The Centriworks team visited the management at Tindell’s to discuss its own company commitment to environmental initiatives, including their Greenworks program, and the negative impact that going with a product that might be less expensive—but also a less environmentally friendly—would have on the business goals.

While the price was, a consideration, Centriworks demonstrated how its proposed solution was less costly over the contract term than the competitive solution. This included showing Tindell’s management the reduced landfill requirements of just replacing toner in the Ricoh equipment versus replacing almost 200 laser cartridges from the competitive equipment over the three-year contract. Centriworks used a predictive modeling formula that provided a detailed snapshot of future costs and predicted savings associated with each current and proposed device over the next 36 months. The model projected a 53 percent savings in power and CO2 emissions (over 5,000 lbs.) that the Ricoh equipment would deliver over the lease term. Tindell’s management was sold with these statistics. They also elected to list their business on, an organization founded by Centriworks as a free, online resource created to educate and guide East Tennessee businesses towards becoming more environmentally responsible.


Centriworks replaced the old equipment with multi-function printers in each location. The device packs multi-functional productivity into a small footprint, saving space and time. The device combines four office devices so all printing, scanning, copying, and faxing can be done from the same source.

“The multi-function printers that Centriworks installed for us have been great for achieving our goal to eliminate as much paper as possible,” said Bates. “Instead of printing or copying documents multiple times, we now capture an electronic copy and process it electronically with a more efficient workflow. We have also looked at every process within the company: receiving, shipping, A/P, invoicing—and in each case, we found ways to be more efficient and cut the waste out.”


Tindell’s now has only one machine at each of its locations. Since the device is an all-in-one solution, it improves workflow processes with just one plug, reducing paper flow and energy.

“We’ve gone from three, four, five, six pieces of hardware at every location to one, and the buy-in was good with our employees,” said Bates. “Change is never easy, but with the ease of use of this equipment and the training provided by Centriworks, we haven’t had any push-back at all.”

Tindell’s work to streamline every process is having success as well. Moving from getting a plethora of invoices every day in the mail and processing to a file folder in a row of file cabinets is a thing of the past.

“We’ve gone from manual files to getting electronic invoices, processing them electronically, never touching a piece of paper, and then using these machines to scan in the documents you get and file everything electronically. We’ve got dozens of file cabinets sitting in a warehouse that we don’t use. And I would say every process has been like that,” said Bates. “Another example is the cash registers at the retail locations. They handle cash and checks and credit cards and a lot of paper documents there. At the end of each day, the cashiers take those documents, and now, instead of putting them in an interoffice envelope, they scan everything into a particular folder. Our accountant can reconcile cash first thing the next morning—the same process used to take two to four days. Documents are matched up with activity in the system. For a company our size, it’s a thing of beauty.”

From installing solar panels in its stores to being LEED and FSC certified to replacing old equipment and processes with more energy-efficient solutions, Tindell’s Building Materials is living up to its commitment to be environmentally responsible and resource-efficient. While the market hasn’t fully demanded it yet, true to form, Tindell’s is already out in front of its competition.

“Centriworks is the perfect partner for us because they foster the same culture we do when it comes to environmental initiatives and providing quality solutions for its customers. Even though green initiatives are not an expectation in our industry yet, we know that it will become expected when it becomes more cost-effective,” said Bates. “That will either be through legislation or costs coming down. I believe all that we have done in this direction, internally with the help of Centriworks, and externally with our environmental focus, differentiates us as a company. So when the demand hits, which it will, we will be ready.”


  • Implement green practices throughout the company
  • Improve efficiencies and reduce costs in document workflows


  • Replace stand-alone copiers, printers, and fax machines with space and time-saving MFPs
  • Revamp department workflows to replace paper workflows with the capture and filing of electronic images of documents


  • Lower long-term costs, energy consumption and reduce landfill requirements with energy-efficient MFPs that use toner versus less environmentally-friendly ink cartridges
  • Reduction of physical file storage and paper use and improved efficiency in document workflows with streamlined electronic document processes


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