See how they grow

The 2011 Home Channel News Top 200 Pro Dealer Scoreboard has been published — the full list will be available on

The Top 200 lumberyard companies in the nation, ranked by sales, together showed a 1.38% increase in 2010, compared with 2009. That’s the first year-over-year growth spurt for the HCN Pro Dealer Scoreboard since the 2007 list of Top 350 pro dealers was published. 

Growth is good. 

But how did it happen? How do companies grow when all around them their markets are stalled or declining? 

Home Channel News editors and reporters have been digging into this question ever since the economy began limping to wherever it is going. 

Let us count the ways:

1) Through acquisition. 

There are deals available. Companies on the growth path have told us that the down times are the right times to get stronger — through acquisition, if possible — at the expense of their competitors.

2) Through market share expansion. 

There’s an old saying that retail is a punch-in-the-mouth business. In other words, if you want market share, you have to take it from somebody. For some companies, market share has come simply as weaker players left the market. But the high-performance players went out and earned it.

3) Through systems and technology investment. 

Taking advantage of POS data has led to better visibility and better business decisions for companies, such as Bartlett’s Lumber & Hardware. Smart companies are usually fast companies. And the companies that move the fastest are usually the companies that grow the fastest. 

4) Through empowered decision-making at the point of customer contact. 

Time and again, successful retail companies — starting with Home Depot’s inverted pyramid and working down the list — point to their structure as their strength. The idea that employees should take ownership of their responsibilities — as is the case with TW Perry — is one of the most prevalent management ideas espoused by growth-oriented companies. 

5) Through change. 

Just because it worked yesterday, doesn’t mean it will work tomorrow. Growth companies seem to understand this maxim. 

6) Through conservative management. 

This may sound like an oxymoron, but growth companies often explain that their conservative approach to business during the boom years has put them in a position for growth today. High-performance companies continue to watch their spending very closely.

7) Through aggressive customer service. 

Enough said. 

8) Through in-store merchandising. 

Bolder endcaps, smarter adjacencies and sophisticated pricing are par for the course for growth companies. 

9) Through scientific analysis. 

Measure. Improve. Repeat. That’s how Orgill’s Ron Beal explains strong growth at Orgill.

10) Through hard work. 

Getting out in the community, building relationships, and aggressively courting new business and new customers. 

“Work hard and work smart,” said Cally Fromme, of Zarsky Lumber, summing up the keys to success at the Victoria, Texas-based company, our July issue cover story.

The profiles of growth in our July issue might or might not be able to guide a business to growth. But they most certainly will show that growth is attainable.

— Ken Clark

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