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Poll Results: touched by disaster impact

BY HBSDealer Staff

A minority of respondents to a recent HBSDealer poll question report they their business was completely unscathed by recent natural disasters. The rest were either hit, their communities were hit, or they know someone who was hit.

The recent weeks have seen devastating natural disasters in the form of hurricanes Havey, Irma and Maria, in the South and deadly wildfires in the West.

We asked: “Fires, floods, hurricanes: How has your business been affected by recent natural disasters.” Here are the results:

• 34% — “Completely unscathed.”
• 32% — “Unscathed. But we know others who suffered losses.”
• 21% — “Indirect hit. Our facilities were OK, but our community was hit.”
• 13% — “Direct hit. Our facilities were damaged.”

The total vote count for the poll was 38. Readers can continue to take the poll here.

Also, tell us about your businesses disaster experience here

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New leaders step up for NLBMDA

BY HBSDealer Staff

Phoenix — The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association elected its new leadership team yesterday at the ProDealer Industry Summit. At the association's annual meeting, the NLBMDA board of directors elected Rick Lierz as the new chair of the association. Rick is president and CEO at Franklin Building Supply in Boise, Idaho, and is replacing outgoing chair George Lester II, chair and CEO at The Lester Group in Martinsville, Va.

"I am deeply honored to become the next chair of the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA). I have the privilege of following in the footsteps of many incredible industry leaders and I promise to honor those that have come before me with strong leadership and vision of a stronger NLBMDA," Lierz said. "Lumberyards and building material dealers are a core part of every community in America.

"We employ many thousands of people and our companies help build our communities. NLBMDA has a long and rich history of being the voice in Washington D.C. for LBM dealers across America. Working together we can make a positive impact for our respective companies and the industry as a whole. I look forward to my chairmanship and working closely with fellow LBM dealers to advance our industry."

Founded in 1976 in Boise, Franklin Building Supply's operations still reflect the personal philosophies and values of its founders. Understanding that customers have a choice when selecting a source for building materials, the founders endeavored to make that choice easier by providing the highest quality materials and customer service in the industry. They focused on teaching their employees to think of the customers first.

"Rick has been an active NLBMDA member for decades and has a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise in the LBM industry. He has consistently shown an unwavering commitment and passion to serving others. I am truly honored to have the opportunity to continue to work with Rick as we are both committed to moving the association forward as he becomes NLBMDA Chair," NLBMDA president and CEO Jonathan Paine said. "I also want to thank George for his time, effort and the advances we've made over the last year to give the association and our members a better foundation as we build on the improving economy around the country."

In addition to Rick, the other members of the 2017-18 NLBMDA Executive Committee are:

  • Chair-elect: Bob Sanford, Sanford & Hawley Inc., Unionville, Conn.
  • First vice chair: Michael Cassidy, Kodiak Building Partners, Denver, Colo.
  • Treasurer: Scott Engquist, Engquist Lumber, Harcourt, Iowa
  • Manufacturers and services council chair: Clarence Wilkerson, Weyerhaeuser, Federal Way, Wash.
  • Federated association executive chair: Cody Nuernberg, Northwestern Lumber Association,  Dakota, Wis.
  • Immediate past chair: George W. Lester II, The Lester Group, Martinsville, Va. 
  • President and CEO: Jonathan Paine, NLBMDA, Washington, D.C.

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Building the better bench

BY Andy Carlo

Phoenix — Having a plan to identify potential executives who can help guide the long-term success of a company probably is not on the top of most pro dealers’ agendas. But according to Rikka Brandon, an executive recruiter, it’s a goal that should be part of any owner or CEO’s vision when looking to ensure their company is healthy long after they retire.

“Failing to plan is planning to fail,” said Brandon, the founder and chief executive recruiter at Building Gurus, a boutique executive search and consulting firm that focuses exclusively on building product manufacturers. “And everyone knows they should have better bench strength.”

Because the process can be “overwhelming, political and complicated, it’s not urgent,” she explained. “Other things in our business keep pushing ahead of it.” 

 Speaking here at the ProDealer Industry Summit, Brandon gave the example of a team member being groomed for a top position for a number of years. But then the employee suddenly decides to depart the company for another venture. The knowledge and expertise is now out the window or, even worse, possibly competing head-to-head with the company that provided the original training.

In another example, Brandon described the situation of a top sales talent who is responsible for 30% of a company’s overall sales. If there is no backup plan for the individual, a good deal of business and sales will be lost if he departs. 

“If they leave it could be months before your company recovers,” she said.

Companies should establish core values and a vision, and stick to them, according to Brandon. If your business says it’s “family friendly,” but provides new hires with only one week of vacation that can’t be accessed until after they’ve been with the company for six months or more, “then you’re not very family friendly,” she said. “You have to walk the talk.”

Brandon recommends identifying the strengths and weaknesses of employees, including letting them self-identify their potential followed by feedback from others at the company. 

Another strategy recommended by the recruiter is to identify employees who can be cross-trained for bigger and better things. For example, there might be a yard employee who has been involved in loading or pre-fabrication for many years but is ready for another role. Perhaps they have the knowledge and personality for a sales position. 

“Developing opportunities to experience all aspects of the business is great — from millennials to longtime veterans,” Brandon said.

When it comes to executives or personnel who are not fitting into a company culture, and promoting might be a mistake, Brandon suggest not wasting time. “Fire and fire fast,” she said. “If you’re thinking of firing them, then it’s only just a matter of time.” 

“Hiring, when you get it wrong, can get really expensive,” Brandon said. 

Brandon suggests that companies establish a cross-training or promotion process for qualified employees and stick with it. And establish a system sooner rather than later.

“What’s your vision? You need to know where you are going to get there,” Brandon said. “You don’t need every step of the process. You need direction and you might have to deal with specific pieces through the process.”

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