Our dealer of the year

In a little less than two months, Gaithersburg, Md.-based TW Perry CEO Michael Cassidy will be called to a podium at the Grand Hyatt in San Antonio, Texas, during the 2011 ProDealer Industry Summit, an event hosted jointly by the National Lumber & Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) and Home Channel News.

Somebody will give him a plaque. Bulbs will flash. If the professional event planners are on the ball — and there is every reason to believe they are — it will be arranged that Cassidy accept the plaque with his left hand, while shaking the hand of the presenter with his right. 

The plaque has not been ordered yet, but it will be engraved along the lines of: “TW Perry: 2011 Pro Dealer of the Year.” 

(Note to event staff: Please follow through on this.) 

I will use this space to explain why TW Perry has been selected. But first — paraphrasing Ivy League deans of admission — the editors claim no extraordinary powers of judgment. Selection is a very difficult process. There are many worthy candidates in the United States who can make a claim for an award based on the criteria of high-performance, innovation and commitment to the values of the lumber business. And there is only one spot for Pro Dealer of the Year. 

Having said that, let us also say this: We’re proud of our choice.

TW Perry is ranked 33rd on the Home Channel News Pro Dealer Scoreboard, with 2010 sales of $107.7 million. The six-unit dealer had double-digit sales gains in 2010, and is looking to repeat that feat in 2011. The company is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2011. (See HCN’s July 4 article: “A hundred years, and growing.”)

During a recent interview in the company’s headquarters, Cassidy revealed an impressive familiarity with industry statistics, something that he said is part of the culture at TW Perry. 

“Everybody requires it of themselves,” Cassidy said. “They need to know their business, quantitatively — not just intuition and experience. So when we have a meeting, we decide right then, and we go.”

One of the stats that Cassidy shared reflects on the nature of TW Perry as a “destination employer.” Of the 337 employees, the company has about 32 who have at least one other family member on the payroll. Another group of stats reveals a management team that’s both young and experienced — an average age of 46, but with an average of 22 years in the industry, 16 with TW Perry. “This team can be intact for the next 22 years, and it has 22 years behind it,” he said.

Of course, numbers are only part of the story. 

“We have a theory of running this company upside down,” Cassidy said. “The customer is at the top, the person interacting with the customer is next. The CEO is at the very bottom of this work chart.”

Enter Jaime Villanueva, the 26-year-old store manager of the S branch, for a quick quiz:

CEO: “Who owns the store next door?”

Store manager: “I do.”

Point taken.

Cassidy is a crusader for decentralized, upside down, entrepreneurial, fast-acting management. And it’s the kind of management he believes is built to succeed in tough times.

“Bigger isn’t better. Better is better,” he said. 

We agree. And we look forward to congratulating the TW Perry team Oct. 26 to 28 in San Antonio. 

— Ken Clark


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