Throwback Thursday: A Diamond in the rough

Diamond Lumber was on the comeback trail in 1987

From left: Schaffer, Grubstien and Bob Green

An article in the Sept. 7, 1987 issue of National Home Center News, the forerunner of HBSDealer, described the comeback attempt of Diamond Lumber, a Carrollton, Texas-based lumberyard chain that had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection a few months earlier.

Hopes were running high, as the company was seeking to improve vendor relations while luring back its core contractor customer.

Said President Jerald Grubstein: “We’re turning things around.”

A key player in the turnaround effort was Jim Schaffer, a former senior VP of merchandising at Moores, a division of Grossmans. He was described in the 1987 article as “an easy-going man with a ready grin.” Today, Schaffer is the principal of Schaffer Associates, an executive search firm specializing in the hardware and building supply industry.

In an e-mail to HBSDealer, Schaffer described Diamond's challenge, some of its successes, and its ultimate dissolution. He writes:

“When I joined Diamond Lumber, they were in Chapter 11 bankruptcy after prior management tried to convert traditional contractor yards built along railroad rights-of-way and in industrial settings to retail outlets competing for DIY dollars. And of course, in 1987 there were a few new retail operations just gaining traction in the DIY market – big boxes being built in prime locations.

“Well, we gave it a shot. We worked to turn Diamond back to the builder and in some cases we were successful. In others, they told us that we had abandoned them once, and they weren’t going to take the risk again. In any event, we built the business back to a profit, but unfortunately we had to sell off assets to pay our creditors — which we did. And that’s why many of the Diamond yards now fly other banners.”

One group that continues to survive and thrive, he said, is Diamond Pacific Lumber in Northern California, owned and operated by Pacific Coast Building Products. 

Schaffer adds: “I had the chance to visit there two years ago and, just like the picture from 1987, it was truly a walk down memory lane.”

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Following up:

Last week, Throwback Thursday featured an article about the 100th anniversary of Long-Lewis Hardware. Subsequently, this article appeared in Alabama.com, regarding the conversion of the distributor’s old headquarters into an office complex.

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