LUMBERYARDS

Yellow Ribbon Fund strikes chord with LBM industry

BY Ken Clark

Support for the troops runs high in the lumber and building material industry. That’s because there’s a relatively high percentage of builders and lumberyard workers with military backgrounds — at least from an anecdotal standpoint. 

Another reason is people like Ed Quinn Jr. 

Quinn is chairman of the board of Gaithersburg, Md.-based TW Perry. One of the founders of the Yellow Ribbon Fund, Quinn recently took over the chairmanship of the non-profit organization that seeks to make life better for wounded veterans and their caregivers. 

How does it make life better? Any way it possibly can, said Quinn.

“We originally started just by asking the kids what they need,” he said. “And they needed rides and rental cars that their caregivers could get around in, lodging for people who would come to visit them. We stepped into the gap and provided everything we could to make everything a little better.” 

Those early days date back to 2005, when Quinn and a group of Maryland businessmen got together to fund a dinner for patients of the National Naval Medical Center. “We were just local business guys who gave a damn, who cared about these kids,” Quinn said. 

The idea became a movement, and the movement became a full-blown charity, a 501(c) (3) organization with a nine-person staff dedicated to helping those who sacrificed for their country. 

One of the staff members is Jessica Allen, herself a caregiver and wife of a wounded veteran. As director of the Yellow Ribbon Fund’s Family Caregiver Program, Allen looks for ways to help the families, and part of that involves navigating military paperwork, and working with other charities to match the needs of the veterans with the ability of the charity to provide help.

“What I do is take some of the suck out of this,” said Allen. “I joke around, but it’s the truth. We find the families in need and honestly and truthfully help them find a blessing out of this. That’s my job.“ 

For Allen, the life-changing phone call came Jan. 22, 2010, at 8 a.m. in the morning. That’s when shelearned her husband was injured in Afghanistan. “My whole world now is taking care of wounded warriors,” she said. 

One of the organizations with which Yellow Ribbon Fund has struck a partnership is Homes for Heroes Foundation, which provides housing for wounded veterans and others who have sacrificed for the country. Currently, a home for the Allen family is being constructed in Tennessee.

In addition to material aid from TW Perry, Homes for Heroes receives help from McCoy’s Building Supply in the Southwest and Heart Lumber in Houston, among others. 

The Yellow Ribbon Fund seeks help and participation from anywhere in the LBM industry, according to Quinn. “The Yellow Ribbon Fund stepped into the gap and has provided everything we could to make everything a little better,” he said. “It’s really taken off. We’d like for the LBM industry to help. It’s just a matter of awareness and then whatever appetite they have to help, we can make it happen.”

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LBM trade group honors Minnesota dealer

BY Brae Canlen

Hilltop Lumber Co., a four-unit LBM chain based in Alexandria, Minn., has been named the Minnesota Lumber and Building Material Dealer of the Year by the Northwestern Lumber Association.

Owners Paul and Brian Klimek, father and son, accepted at the 2013 Northwestern Building Products EXPO held in St. Cloud, Minn.

Paul Klimek grew up following his father into construction business. In 1987, after learning that a closed lumberyard in Glenwood was for sale, Klimek decided to reopen it in 1988. In 1994 he built a yard in Alexandria, and then bought two closed yards — one in Parkers Prairie in 2000 and the other in Brandon in 2004. The Klimeks also did a major addition to their Alexandria store in 2005. 

Alexandria became the company’s hub of operation and the site of the Do it Best dealer’s “Idea House,” where customers can see actual products installed in a house-like setting. Said Brian Klimek: “People need to see, touch and feel the product to decide what they like. This is especially helpful for the women who come to make their selections.” 

Brian Klimek joined his father in 1999 and has been responsible for continuing education for employees and IT functions, such as computerized estimating and design software, boom trucks, piggybacks and computers. Brian is has also developed the company’s online presence, including a Facebook page utilized by vacationers who own second homes in Hilltop’s markets. The company also supports local nonprofits and sports teams, such as the Beetles baseball team and Blizzard hockey team.

Founded in 1890, the Northwestern Lumber Association is a trade organization headquartered in Minneapolis which represents 725 independent lumber and building material retailers and their suppliers in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. 

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NLBMDA releases policy agenda

BY Brae Canlen

The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) has released its national legislative and regulatory policy agenda for 2013, which will serve as a guideline for meetings with members of Congress and key administration officials on March 18 to 20.

"Our industry was hit hard by the recession, but our members have rebounded with lessons about what needs to be done to set the housing industry on the path to economic growth,” said NLBMDA chair Chuck Bankston, president of Bankston Lumber in Barnesville, Ga. “We need policymakers to focus on eliminating unnecessary regulatory burdens, creating sound fiscal policies, and reforming our tax code in a way that will aid in the fledging economic recovery." 

As part of its 2013 mandate, the NLBMDA will continue to advance pro-growth policies that will strengthen small businesses and protect the many multi-generational family-owned businesses in the industry. The association’s agenda includes positions on: housing and construction; tax and economic policy; legal reform and consumer protection; workforce policy; the environment, health and safety; product supply  trade; energy policy; transportation policy; and highway safety.

NLBMDA’s 2013 National Policy Agenda will be the focus of the organization’s Spring Meeting and Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. To read a copy of the agenda, click here

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