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09/18/2020

Leaders of Lumber: L.T. Gibson, US LBM

L.T. Gibson

Last year marked the 10th anniversary for US LBM. 

Founded in 2009 with 16 locations in three states, there have been a few changes at the company since its debut. That includes expanding to more than 250 locations with sales hitting $3.5 billion in 2019. 

But US LBM President and CEO L.T. Gibson has been a constant since he founded the company, overseeing super growth at one of the lumber and building material industry’s largest dealers. 

“Building a great company is full of ups and downs and you have to realize that the process you create and the journey you take is your ultimate destination,” Gibson told HBSDealer. “At the end of the day, this is about people, reliability and excellence.” 

Gibson says the lessons he learned during his journey with US LBM “could fill volumes.” 

“It ranges from setting the right strategies early, to building processes and systems to meet your needs today and in the future, to being flexible so you can quickly pivot as markets and economies shift,” he says. “Most importantly, you need to lay out a clear vision of the future and keep your team focused on that vision."

 

Part of that vision is US LBM’s leadership team who remain focused on continuing best practices for the business on a daily basis. “Keeping our attention on our core mission and strategic road map gives us the most options and opportunities for the future,” Gibson says. 

Regarding growth, the Buffalo Grove, Ill.-based pro dealer looks to expand in existing markets and partner with the best companies in new markets. Essential to acquisitions are partnerships that are beneficial to both companies. 

“Even if we partner with a market leader, we want to be able to provide a potential new partner the tools and resources to grow, which could be via our wider access of suppliers, product lines, or technology,” Gibson explains. “They receive the benefits of US LBM’s scale and industry leverage along with a deep bench of support, product and subject matter experts, technology, training opportunities, and a playbook of operational best practices from across our family of divisions.” 

Likewise, US LBM looks at companies that can bring a new dynamic to the dealer and its network, including markets or product categories that dealers might not be in. 

A strength of US LBM is the company’s ability to adapt while proactively finding new opportunities to advance and improve in the industry.

Universal Supply is one of US LBM's banners that has provided multiple expansion moves in recent months.

“We’re progressive in how we approach things and have always regarded ourselves as the ‘new’ kid on the block and as an alternative to the traditional lumber yard model,” Gibson says. “Doing things because ‘that’s how they’ve always been done’ has never been our approach. Technology has been central to our value proposition from day one and we’ve been quicker to implement technology than others.” 

Giving back is another aspect of US LBM. The company’s non-profit US LBM Foundation is an aspect of the company that Gibson says he is most proud of. 

“We’ve recently entered into some very exciting partnerships through our foundation to either donate dollars or building materials to assist veterans, help those who need housing or are victims of natural disasters and diseases,” Gibson says. 

The company has a disaster relief fund to help its own associates in times of need. US LBM also sets aside a fund of more than $100,000 that its divisions have access to for use in supporting communities and augmenting local volunteer work and donations. 

In response to COVID-19, the dealer donated $100,000 to Meals on Wheels to help the hard-hit Northeast and allocated $50,000 across its divisions to support local community food banks. 

“It’s great to be able to give back and it’s one of the most important things we’re able to do. Since the foundation was established in 2013, we have donated more than $1 million in total and that is something we are all very proud of,” Gibson says.

(This article originally appeared as part of the Leaders in Lumber series in the September 2020 issue of HBSDealer.)