Ply Mart to close
Ply Mart, the Norcross, Ga.-based pro dealer, is closing down its operations after struggling with declining housing starts in the Atlanta market. Randy Mahaffey, Ply Mart’s chairman, told Home Channel News that the company is in negotiations to sell its installed sales and stair manufacturing divisions. Its four remaining lumberyards will be closed, Mahaffey said. “We’re selling off our inventory,” he added.
Ply Mart was one of the Southeast’s largest LBM players before the downturn, pulling in $335 million in revenues in 2006, when it operated 14 units in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
The housing market slowdown hit Atlanta and the Carolinas late, but unfortunately, it still arrived. Housing permits have declined 25 percent in Atlanta, Ply Mart’s primary market, since August of 2007, according to Mahaffey.
“It fell off a cliff in September,” he said. “It was an absolute free fall.”
During the last 18 months, the company’s accounts receivables ballooned to $20 million. Ply Mart began reducing staff and mothballing lumberyards, and members of the Mahaffey family began pumping their own money into the company to keep it afloat. But it wasn’t enough.
“Every time we made a cut, we thought we were where we needed to be,” Mahaffey said. “But we were still bleeding. We just couldn’t cut expenses as fast as our revenues were dropping.”
Mahaffey said he did not consider selling the business to one of the national LBM chains; nor were there any real offers forthcoming. “The market is so bad in Atlanta, everybody is taking a whipping,” he observed. “It is not the time to buy in this segment.”
Earlier this year, Wheeler’s Building Materials, another privately owned pro dealer based in Atlanta, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company’s owners bought three of the chain’s original 17 lumberyards at auction in April. Last February, ProBuild bought Jasper Lumber, a small independent with three locations in the Atlanta area.
Wolseley donated supplies for Virginia tornado relief
Wolseley North America’s divisions, Ferguson and Stock Building Supply, provided extensive aid to storm victims in the state of Virginia following tornadoes and severe storms earlier this month.
Packages to the city of Suffolk, several neighborhoods of which were damaged by a tornado, included gloves, ply board, tarps, hammers, shovels, nails and numerous other supplies.
“Upon hearing about the tornado, we first checked to ensure that all of our associates in the area were OK, and then we immediately focused our attention on the community and how we could help,” said Ray Ferrara, manager of emergency operations for Wolseley’s North American Division.
The tornado that hit Suffolk, Va., caused more than $18 million in damage, according to the company. The tornado cut a 25-mile path through residential areas, and more than 200 people were injured during the tornado, “which also damaged scores of businesses and downed dozens of trees and power lines.”
Stock currently operates 302 locations in 34 states, while Ferguson operates more than 1,400 service centers in all 50 states.
Lumber Liquidators in Nascar sponsorship
Lumber Liquidators, the Toano, Va.-based hardwood flooring retail chain, has announced its first Nascar Sprint Cup sponsorship, to debut at the Coca-Cola 600 on May 25.
The retailer will sponsor Travis Kvapil and his Yates Racing Team — car number 28 — at the event, set for Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C.
“Nascar fans are great supporters and customers of Lumber Liquidators, and we are always interested in opportunities with the Sprint Cup Series,” said Tom Sullivan, CEO of Lumber Liquidators, in a statement. Sullivan added that Lumber Liquidators has had a “successful history” sponsoring Nascar’s Craftsman Truck Series.
According to Nascar, Kvapil currently is ranked 18th in Nascar driver point standings.
Lumber Liquidators operates more than 130 specialty stores in the United States, selling solid and engineered flooring materials.