Forge Lumber keeps building

The owners of Forge Lumber were on the sidelines during the height of the building boom, having sold their Cincinnati operation to Builders FirstSource in 2000. But after their non-compete agreements expired, the management group jumped back in.

And they wasted little time establishing their two-location operation -- one yard on each side of the Ohio River in Kentucky and Ohio -- as a force in their market.

In 2009, Forge Lumber rode market share gains to a 27% sales increase and a No. 282 ranking on the Pro Dealer Industry Scoreboard. For its success and commitment to service and growth, the company earned the 2010 Independent Pro Dealer of the Year award. That sales success, in a year when the vast majority of companies on the Scoreboard showed declines, was the result of a focus on the customer and a focus on quality.

“We want to have the most professional lumber operation in the country,” said Eric Steinman, EVP. It’s an ambitious goal, and one that begins with putting the right people in the right positions.

“When we bought two smaller lumber organizations to form Forge Lumber, those purchases were focused on people,” he said. “Many of them we knew and respected and felt like they would help form a great team.”

Forge’s strong 2009 was aided by the withdrawal of some major players, opening the door for local knowledge to win business. One key to the team is David Luecke (pronounced “lucky”), VP sales and marketing. Luecke brings 35 years of experience in the LBM business, including a role as president and CEO of Riemeier Lumber, which was once the dominant commercial project supplier in Cincinnati."

"We have a significant edge in our markets because of who we have on our team, and our depth of experience in the industry," said Luecke.

Another key member of the management team is John Steinman IV, son of Forge Lumber president John Steinman. Steinman the younger is heading up information technology and purchasing, which management believes will prove critical to future success.

“We know we have work to do, and we always have work to do; but right now, we’ve completed some difficult upgrades, and we’re about to put the foot on the gas pedal,” Eric Steinman said.

Building on its 2009 performance -- $23 million in sales and 27% growth -- will require a commitment to customers, he added. The company is built to partner with builders. It emphasizes expertise in commercial, residential, construction services and mill services -- along with the basics of same-day delivery, accurate estimating and accurate billing. Another strategic advantage is the ability to expand business through its sister companies -- Moellering Industries, which sells cabinets and countertops for commercial projects; and Sims-Lohman, offering kitchen and bath showrooms in Indiana and Ohio.

Forge Lumber has also engaged customers by embracing green building practices and receiving chain-of-custody certification through the Scientific Certification Systems to handle Forest Stewardship Council-approved products.

The name of “Forge” came about as the result of “non-scientific pondering,” Eric said. But it seems to fit, as the family business pounds away and forges ahead on customer service.

“We’re very honored to receive this award,” Eric said. “It reflects the strong work ethic of all of our team members. And we’re also very optimistic that we can continue to grow with our customers.”

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