Robert Marchbank, the newly appointed CEO of ProBuild, is a seasoned executive who spent 19 years moving up the ranks at Ferguson Enterprises, where he eventually became CEO for the entire European operation. He takes on the top job at the largest LBM chain during the LBM’s worst downturn — in many ways, not an enviable position.
And to top things off, ProBuild is owned by a privately held company, Fidelity Capital, that has grown impatient with the continued loss of profits at the Denver-based chain. ProBuild was formed by bringing together some of the most successful companies in the business — Lanoga, Strober, Hope Lumber, United Building Supply — and the men who helped build them.
But Marchbank presides over a different group of executives now. With the exception of Ed Waite, executive VP local operations (but for many years, the president of Spenard Builders Supply in Alaska), no one on the 10-person executive team worked for one of ProBuild’s legacy companies.
So where did they all go?
Home Channel News tracked down a number of ProBuild’s former executives, many of whom have either started new businesses, or retired, or are waiting for their non-compete agreements to expire so they can start or join other LBM companies. Some individuals left the company on their own terms; others were forced out. In the end, it doesn’t really matter. The important thing is that most stayed within the industry, because as the saying goes, once you get sawdust in your veins …
• Paul Hylbert, CEO, Kodiak Building Partners
Paul Hylbert left the chief executive’s job at ProBuild in April 2011. Three months later, he announced he was joining a partnership called Boreas Advisors (comprised of former finance guys from ProBuild) “to look for opportunities in the housing and building products industry.” Although they started in the steel fabrication business, Hylbert and his investment crew — now called Kodiak Building Partners — are searching out building products companies that serve new residential, repair and remodeling, and commercial construction markets.
• Bill Myrick
The July 2011 announcement that Bill Myrick was leaving ProBuild, after only 10 months as CEO, was the beginning of a three-month purge of high-level executives that included Jim Cavanaugh, executive VP operations, and Joe Todd, executive VP specialty distribution and pricing. Myrick, the former chief operating officer of 84 Lumber, has spent his entire career in the LBM business. He has no intention of leaving it, he said. “My non-compete expires in July, and I’ve been talking to some companies, as well as some private equity firms that are interested in getting into this space,” Myrick told Home Channel News. In the meantime, the 50-year-old has been traveling and visiting with his first two grandchildren, both born in the last year.
• Joe Todd, principal, Rosen Materials
Joe Todd had numerous titles at ProBuild — president of marketing development, head of national accounts, northeastern regional president — before he left in October 2011 as executive VP specialty distribution and pricing. That same month, he joined up with Drew Rosen of Rosen Materials, who had bought back some of his family’s drywall and steel framing yards from ProBuild and was expanding the chain. “We’ve done it mostly through greenfields and small acquisitions,” Todd told HCN, explaining the company’s 10 locations; Florida has eight outlets, and Chicago and Las Vegas each have one unit. Next on the horizon: “Colorado,” Todd said.
• Ben Phillips, president, Phillips Group
Phillips held several positions at ProBuild — executive VP as well as chairman — until Fidelity made him the chief operating officer of U.S. operations for its Devonshire Group, putting ProBuild under his domain. Phillips left Fidelity in May 2010. He now does operational and leadership management consulting under his own firm, the Phillips Group. “I also work for private equity groups that are doing acquisitions,” he told HCN.
• George Finkenstaedt, principal, M & A Advisors
Finkenstaedt was a senior VP corporate development when he left ProBuild in 2008. Like his business partner, former executive VP and acting ProBuild CFO Bill Brakken, Finkenstaedt didn’t want to make a permanent move to ProBuild headquarters in Denver. So the two men have been putting together M&A deals ever since. They worked on the Harbert Lumber acquisition, a four-unit chain in Denver purchased by ProBuild, and the Edward Hines Lumber Co. merger with US LBM Holdings and BlackEagle Partners. “We’ve got two deals [pending] right now,” Finkenstaedt told HCN. “There are a lot more [investors] interested in the LBM sector than last year.”