Tide turns at 84 Lumber

Despite a continued building slowdown in many of its markets, 84 Lumber returned to profitability this past May, the pro dealer’s first monthly profit of the year, according to a company announcement. Sales had been decreasing at 84 Lumber -- which is primarily dependent on single-family housing starts -- since April 2006, leveling off in December 2007 and remaining flat since then.

Dan Wallach, 84 Lumber’s CFO, attributed the net gain to several factors. “Because we are a national company with half of our locations in the northeastern quadrant of the country, we have been somewhat less affected by drops in housing starts in the southeast and southwest quadrants than some of our competitors,” Wallach said. “This geographic footprint and gains in market share have allowed our sales to remain consistent even as starts have declined.”

84 Lumber has also eliminated bad debt, reduced payroll and closed or consolidated a number of unprofitable locations this year. This past April, the Eighty-Four, Pa.-based chain of lumberyards entered into two new five-year financing packages totaling $590 million.

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