Thinking local

The growing story of US LBM Holdings

Lyman Lumber has served Minnesota builders since 1897.

US LBM Holdings will accept the HCN 2013 Pro Dealer of the Year award at the Oct. 23-25 ProDealer Industry Summit in Nashville, Tenn. 

Exceptionalism, as pertains to US LBM Holdings, begins with its growth. As one of the fastest-growing building materials distributors in the country, HCN’s 2013 Pro Dealer of the Year boasts year-over-year revenue growth of 15.7%, stands tall at 55 locations nationwide, and ranks 14th in sales on the HCN Pro Dealer Industry Scoreboard — all just four years after its inception.

There’s no secret, but there are principals. US LBM’s growth runs on the combined strength of eight autonomous companies, a focus on local knowledge and the ability to provide speed in the marketplace. And, most importantly, according to executives, it’s the people.

“We try to keep it very simple,” said CEO L.T. Gibson, describing his company’s structure. “There are synergies on the administrative side. And we have a local market focus. We think that local brands are very important. At the same time, we’re very disciplined as a group.”

Gibson, a former Stock Building Supply VP, oversees a culture that some might call the anti-corporate corporate culture. US LBM Holdings has 16 employees, while some 2,000 handle the day-to-day as employees of the various operating companies.

Karen Charielle, VP human resources at US LBM Holdings, added: “We have a wonderful team. We’re great partners together. Our success is driven by our employees, and showing that on the executive level drives [that ethic] down through the organization.”

The company has a healthy appetite for new acquisitions, associates and customers, said Charielle. And so far, the divergent identities of its individual yards seem to be a source of positive development.

“I don’t see it as a challenge — I see it as an opportunity,” she added. “Each company may have different customers and markets, but we all have the same philosophies and take part in a strategic plan we develop each year. We share best practices, and that creates synergy.”

The company has its sights set on paving the way for sustained progress in its company culture. Specifically, this means strengthening its human capital through a new in-house training and development program by the name of US LBM University. Charielle and her team will identify key successors and take them through the curriculum, taught by executives at the company. At the moment, they’re looking to partner with universities that stand out for their Lean, distribution, sales and leadership training.

“We’re passionate about our associates,” said Charielle. “If we’re giving them respect and guidance, that’ll return back to our customers.” 

EIGHT AND GROWING

US LBM’s operating companies:

  • Bellevue Builders Supply, Schenectady, N.Y.
  • East Haven Builders Supply, East Haven, Conn.
  • Edward Hines Lumber, Buffalo Grove, Ill.
  • John H. Myers & Son, York, Pa.
  • Lyman Lumber, Excelsior, Minn.
  • Shelly’s Lumber, Telford, Pa.
  • Universal Supply Co., Hammonton, N.J.
  • Wisconsin Building Supply, Green Bay, Wis.
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