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09/23/2020

Leaders of Lumber: James Drexinger, American Construction Source

James Drexinger

American Construction Source (ACS) burst onto the pro dealer scene in the second half of 2018 when its formation included the acquisition of more than 50 Meek’s Lumber Company locations in Arkansas, California, Missouri and Nevada

From there, it was all business as the company made a series of acquisitions fueled by the financial backing of investment firms Angeles Equity Partners and Clearlake Capital Group. 

For 2019, sales increased more than 13% to over $640.7 million from sales of $566.3 million in the prior year. 

And in 2020, ACS made big news again when it acquired Homewood Holdings - another rising star among the dealer ranks. The acquisition expanded ACS to more than 70 locations in 9 states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, and Washington. This past summer, ACS expanded again, acquiring Weaver Lumber of Northern California.

According to ACS CEO James Drexinger, a driver behind ACS’s rapid growth and big deals is the company’s approach to preserving the family-owned business legacy of the dealers it acquires.

“ACS knows this is a people business built on relationships and trust,” Drexinger told HBSDealer. “We work hard every day to earn the right to our business with builders, contractors, tradespeople, and sophisticated DIY consumers.”

A key component to ACS’s ability to strengthen relations is the Springfield, Mo.-based company’s management team, composed of experienced leaders who have previously executed successful strategies on both a national and local scale. According to ACS, the pro dealer has the ability to improve the local customer experience while leveraging national scale efficiencies.

During his tenure as CEO of ACS, Drexinger said he has learned that the culture of acquisition targets, along with their employees, must be a match with ACS’s culture in order for the deal to be a success. ACS is looking for LBM yards with strong leadership and a bench of talent willing to tackle tough problems as the company continues to grow its business through investment and expansion, he said.

“We have customers where grandma/grandpa, mom/dad, and his daughter/son have all been supported over the decades by our local yards,” Drexinger notes. “You approach the business differently, knowing you are not only honoring a multi-generation relationship – but you are also earning the right to the next generation of opportunities.”

While it’s a major LBM player, ACS is loyal to its roots. Each location is given a specific budget for supporting community activities, including family-friendly appreciation days, pro-focused manufacturer expos, training events, sponsoring local charities and athletics, and ways to say thank you to first responders.

Most recently, with the COVID-19 crisis, and previously with wildfires and other natural disasters, local ACS associates have stood strong to help keep builders building and contractors remodeling. 

“Customers repeatedly tell us, ‘I can stay open because you are staying open’,” Drexinger said.

Evidence of ACS’s national leadership has been apparent during the COVID-19 crisis. The dealer continuously communicated the latest updates to employees and customers while backing the recent construction safety shut down, created by the National Association of Home Builders, to help reinforce safety standards and training during the pandemic.

“We proactively over-communicate with associates and customers,” Drexinger says. “ACS would rather be leading the navigation through the crisis, rather than following, or just being in the way.”

(This article originally appeared in the September 2020 edition of HBSDealer.)