LUMBERYARDS

The Summit of strategic thinking

BY Andy Carlo

Phoenix — They might sell similar products through similar business models, but how dealers build a long-term strategy and conduct day-to-day business can also be as diverse as one coast of the country from the other.

In an armchair atmosphere, top executives from Hamilton Building Supply, Kodiak Building Partners, Millard Lumber, and TW Perry discussed some of the inner workings of their companies in a panel discussion led by Rick Lierz, CEO of Boise, Idaho-based Franklin Building Supply and the new chair of the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association.

Zeroing-in on today’s business climate, Kodiak CFO Jeff Smith noted that business is booming in Colorado – particularly in the drywall business – but significant labor constraints are faced in the market. Meanwhile, Texas has become a tale of “two states,” according to Smith. “Dallas-Fort Worth is going gangbusters but Houston and south Texas is stuck in a depressed oil economy.”

For Gary Bowman, CEO of Washington, D.C.-based TW Perry, sales are up 7% for the year and his company has seen steady growth of 4% or better in recent years.

In the meantime, Hamilton Building Supply General Manager John Perna said the strength of the custom home market in New Jersey is not as strong as they company would like. Renovation sales in urban markets such as northern New Jersey and Philadelphia have been surging, however.

In regards to shaping a strategic plan, dealers agreed that tactics must be flexible. Joel Russell, chief operating officer of Omaha, Neb.-based Millard Lumber, said his company – dealing 60% with single-family homebuilders and 30% remodelers and multi-family builders – has begun shifting away from three to five-year planning to more immediate responses.

“Heading down a five-year path doesn’t make sense if the market is dynamic,” Russell explained. “We have shifted to a more quarterly review of where we are

our strategy. It helps our execution.”

Part of the review process is sharing the direction of the company with employees. Bowman says TW Perry provides a “narrative” to employees in monthly newsletters. “There is a lost art of storytelling in our culture,” Bowman said. “This connects us to the people in a better way.”

TW Perry operates seven locations including a design center and millwork division. The dealer also cements its message through quarterly update meetings at each of its facilities. Company values and the strategic mission are discussed with employees with the process being repeated at each location.

“Management’s challenge is to make sure we walk the walk,” Bowman says.

Perna said a benefit of operating a smaller company is that every manager is onsite: the Hamilton, N.J.-based dealer operates a yard along with design center in Newton, Pa. “We also meet annually off-site to review goals and use them as a frame of reference for the upcoming year.”

Given the diversity and size of Kodiak Building Partners, with 36 locations in 5 states, the company maintains an ability to quickly adapt to changing times and markets.

“We are fairly fast-paced, we tend to update our long-term vision on an irregular basis,” Smith said.

“We want to be the place where the best people work, we want to be the place where the best customers buy, and we want to be the place where the best investors invest, and if we get the first two right, the third will follow.”

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ProDealer Industry Summit kicks off in Phoenix

BY Ken Clark

Phoenix — It was a night to celebrate high performance and the best practices and values of the lumber industry.

The 2017 ProDealer Industry Summit kicked off here at the Wigwam Resort with the installation of a new lineup of National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association leaders – including new chairman Rick Lierz of Franklin Building Supply in Boise, Idaho. The opening night event also honored HBSDealer’s Pro Dealers of the Year – Kuiken Brothers Company of Fairlawn, N.J., and Millard Lumber of Omaha, Neb.

Lierz, in his speech to attendees, reminisced about weekend outings with his father, who was a Boise Cascade employee before founding Franklin Building Supply. "It seemed as though we visited every lumberyard around during those trips." 

On the importance of participation in the NLBMDA, Lierz said: "We need to be the recognized voice of the industry. Being a big voice in our industry matters." He also urged members to attend the NLBMDA's Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., in March of 2018.

The Pro Dealer of the Year honorees described the importance of having the right people in the right position as a key to success. Kuiken Brothers President Doug Kuiken emphasized: "Nothing gets done without good people."

The president of the New Jersey-based dealer also explained his company's success: "It's about getting it right day in and day out." He also stressed the importance of differentiation — of giving the customer reason to give you their business.

Representing the 2017 Independent Pro Dealer of the Year, Joel Russell, COO of Millard Lumber, told attendees of the ProDealer Industry Summit that one of the virtues his grandfather passed down to current management is "giving back to the community." He described his pride in working with his father and brother on a daily basis. 

The ProDealer Industry Summit, an event hosted jointly by the NLBMDA and HBSDealer, runs through Thursday. 

 

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84 Lumber opens second San Antonio location

BY Andy Carlo

84 Lumber is opening its second location in San Antonio, Texas.

Located off of Interstate 10 on Riverside Drive, the store includes a 4,000-square-foot showroom, an expanded 50,000-square-foot door shop, and a “growing engineered wood capacity,” with rail service, the company said in a press release. The new location is expected to grow 84 Lumbers local footprint in the market.

“The addition of this store gives us the ability to expand our efforts with current and potential customers, while also increasing our presence in the market,” said 84 Lumber Chief Operating Officer Frank Cicero. “This location was a natural fit for us due to our existing footprint in Texas including Houston, Dallas, Austin, and western Texas.”

84 Lumber already operates 12 other location in Texas including Georgetown, four stores in metro Houston, and an additional San Antonio yard. The latest yard will offer supplies and services including lumber, panels, Hardie Siding, LP Siding, nails and fasteners, tools and hardware, as well as mouldings and pre-hung doors, 84 Lumber said. A grand opening is scheduled for Oct. 12.

Based in Eight Four, Pa., 84 Lumber operates more than 250 stores, component manufacturing plants, custom door shops, custom millwork shops, and engineered wood product (EWP) centers in 30 states, representing the top 130 markets in the country. 84 Lumber also offers professional residential and commercial contractors turn-key installed services for a variety of products including framing, insulation, siding, windows, roofing, decking, and drywall.

This latest opening follows recent additions to the 84 Lumber fleet of stores including new locations in North Carolina, Florida, New York and the metro Boston market

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