Centuries in the Making: The Requarth Co. (est. 1860)
The April issue of HBSDealer profiled a handful of lumberyards that have survived and thrived beyond the century mark. One of the keys to success across the board: They move on when opportunities present themselves.
See the April 2018 digital edition here.
What follows below is a look at The Reqaurth Co., an Ohio institution since 1860.
The Requarth Co. (est. 1860)
Providing lumber and building materials for the Wright Brothers is just one example of Requarth’s deep role in helping to make history in Dayton, Ohio. During the general contractor phase of its existence, the company constructed Dayton’s tallest building in 1904.
More recently, Requarth has moved to preserve the city history, by remodeling the downtown warehouse that served the company for about five generations, converting it into an award-winning architectural showpiece and modern showroom. The results have been historic: In 2017, the company enjoyed its best year of sales in 157 years.
President Alan Pippenger is the great-great grandson of company founder Frederick August Requarth. He told HBSDealer that the company’s history is important to the day-to-day operations in a number of ways.
“First, it’s a story about resilience, surviving the economic panics of the late 19th century, the world wars and all those events,” he said.
Its history also serves as a daily reminder of the need to transform and reinvent. The company has developed in various stages since 1860, beginning as a wood turning shop, then a material supply company, then it shifted into the role of general contractor. After the Great Depression and World War II, Requarth became a supplier to home builders. And in the 1960s, the company operated three home centers.
“You look back at our history, each generation has to reinvent and add to our deep ties to this community,” he said. “From the Wright Brothers on, we’ve been an important part of this community. And thanks to that, people will drive downtown to look at kitchens.”
Today, The Requarth Co. has found its stride as “your source for cabinetry lumber and more.” That description reflects the company’s 2011 acquisition of Supply One Cabinets, a Dayton-area family business that also has nurtured multiple generations of roots in the community.
The move from a contractor-based dealer to a pro dealer with a kitchen-and-bath showroom operation required some changes.
“It brought a lot more consumers into the location, and made it more important for them to find us,” he said. “[As a result], we upped our marketing effort dramatically.”
This included an upscale Requarth website that puts an emphasis on design and high-quality images. But the company is actively thinking ahead to the next generation of consumer interaction tools.
“Unfortunately, websites are old news,” Pippenger said. “Right now, our website is reaching our customer base, but it won’t in five or 10 years. We’re starting to think now about where that’s going.”
Evolving and adapting are hallmarks of the company — even name changes. Its acquisition of Supply One in 2011 eventually led to a name change from Requarth Lumber to the temporary Requarth Supply One to the current The Requarth Co., with “Lumber, Millwork & Kitchen” built into the logo.
But the most important phrase in the Requarth playbook is “every job done right” — which emerged through careful and open strategic planning.
“That’s what’s on our T-shirts,” Pippenger said. “That’s what we talk about in employee meetings when we share ‘every job done right’ stories with each other. That’s really the core of what we strive for as a company.”
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