LUMBERYARDS

Epicor recognizes customer excellence

BY Andy Carlo

Orlando, Fla. — At its 2017 LBM Conference, Epicor announced Customer Excellence Awards winners, recognizing businesses that have successfully transformed operations by deploying Epicor BisTrack and Epicor LumberTrack solutions and services. 

Millersburg, Ohio-based Yoder Lumber was given the Epicor LumberTrack in the “Technology Innovator” category. The hardwood products manufacturer was selected for its ability to simplifying business processes by leveraging technology and demonstrating the value of the investment in the form of efficiently managing real-time sales processing, inventory management, accounting, and more with an all-in-one system featuring a seamless interface, Epicor said. 

“The biggest benefit of LumberTrack software is that it ties the entire business together. The fact that we have all facets of the business – from the timberland to the sawmill, the millwork department to the panel shop – managed all-in-one software,” said Trent Yoder, chief operating officer of Yoder Lumber. “With LumberTrack software, we’re able to make quick and accurate decisions in an ever-changing hardwood industry which enables us to serve our customers better.”

In the “Rapid Time to Value” category, Epicor BisTrack customer Star Lumber & Supply Co. took home the award through its experience with a fast implementation and deployment of BisTrack software. The Wichita, Kan.-based dealer Implementation of the software was effectively managed due to motivated project teams, effective training, and production readiness.

In a video presentation preceding the award, Star Lumber I.T. Director Dave Gregory said, “every day we save hundreds of hours,” through the use of the BisTrack system. 

“The biggest benefit of LumberTrack software is that it ties the entire business together. The fact that we have all facets of the business—from the timberland to the sawmill, the millwork department to the panel shop—managed all in one software,” said Trent Yoder, chief operating officer, Yoder Lumber. “With LumberTrack software, we’re able to make quick and accurate decisions in an ever-changing hardwood industry which enables us to serve our customers better.

“Our customers are central to everything we do. The Epicor Customer Excellence Award program gives us an opportunity to recognize those customers that are at the forefront of their industries through their use of technology to stimulate business growth,” said Kevin Hodge, director, product development and product management, LBM, Epicor Software. “This year we are pleased to highlight Yoder Lumber and Star Lumber for their accomplishments.”

(Inset: Star Lumber & Supply Co.'s Director of IT David Gregory with Epicor's Graham Rigby and Lisa Pope.)

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84 Lumber: Meet the Rookie

BY Ken Ryan

In an effort to recognize the contributions of the company’s young talent, 84 Lumber recently instituted a Rookie of the Year award. The inaugural Rookie of the Year winner was Al Whitehead, co-manager in North Charlotte, N.C., who started as a manager trainee in June 2015.

In many ways, Al Whitehead is fulfilling a lifelong passion for building things. His passion was developed and nurtured as a child who spent hours designing structures with colorful, plastic Lego bricks.

That passion for building — and for Legos — never let go. But his building materials have grown considerably in size and value.

“I have always liked to construct things,” Whitehead said, referring to his Legos. “So it is kind of uncanny that that’s what I have been into and am still into today.”

Whitehead began his career in building materials, but left for five and half years when he worked as a personal trainer and sold off-road vehicles. It turned out, building materials was in his DNA, and when he got the opportunity to join 84 Lumber, he said he jumped at the chance.

“Seeing what we sell turn into structures is the best part of my job,” he said. “I get no greater high than when I go to a job site and see the progress being made with the materials that we supplied and witnessing it during the building process.”

Whitehead received the company’s Rookie of the Year award in 2016. And like any thoughtful award winner, he credited his teammates and managers at 84 Lumber who set the stage for his performance. “They really give you the tools you need to be successful,” he said.

Specifically, Whitehead hailed the company’s Lumber Camp, in which new management trainees participate in a rigorous two-and-a half days of training, with top executives on hand to provide guidance. Whitehead explains it this way: “It is like college in a way; you network with the guys—it’s something special and I don’t think anyone else does it like 84 Lumber does. If you run into an obstacle, you can handle it because of the training you went through.”

In addition to structured training, there’s no shortage of informal mentorship within the 84 Lumber ranks, he said. And Whitehead feels that culture of support begins at the top of the privately held company, with Joe Hardy and Maggie Hardy Magerko setting the tone. “We are all 84 members,” Whitehead said. “From the top down I have received mentorship, and it continues to inspire me and drive me to dream bigger. Everyone has played a vital part of advancing my career and everyone around me has given me the motivation to succeed and push harder and keep going.”

As a co-manager at 84 Lumber, Whitehead routinely comes into a wide variety of projects and problems with any combination of contractors, suppliers, homeowners, as well as others. With so many moving parts, the manager of a building supply dealer is in a position that requires talent. No two situations are exactly the same.

To Whitehead, success comes down to respect, patience and effective communication. “Those are my three keys in terms of working with every customer,” he said. “You have to have a level of empathy to put yourself in a customer’s shoes. There are plenty of times in my life when I had issues as a consumer. So you try to work together with the customer to find a solution. In the end you have to be able to listen to the customer—and the issues that come up and be able to resolve them.”

Whitehead has worked for big box lumber building materials suppliers so he has some perspective on what 84 Lumber brings to the table.

For others starting out in the building supply industry, Whitehead offers the following career advice: keep an open mind, have a plan, and stick to it. For himself, he enjoys serving customers and chasing his goals at 84 Lumber. “And I mean that with all seriousness. There is no shortage of opportunities, no shortage of possibilities, if you put your mind to it.”

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See more coverage of 84 Lumber in this special issue of HBSDealer.

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Builders FirstSource sales rise 7.6%

BY Andy Carlo

Builders FirstSource (BFS) reported third quarter 2017 net sales of $1.9 billion, a 7.6% increase from third quarter 2016 net sales of $1.74 billion.

The Dallas, Texas-based pro dealer also reported a third quarter net income of $39.8 million compared to a net income of $125.5 million for the third quarter of 2016. Net income for the third quarter of 2016 was weighed down by a tax valuation allowance of $117.6 million against BFS’s deferred income tax assets offset by $53.3 million in debt issuance and refinancing costs.

2017 year-to-date net sales were $5.3 billion, a 9% percent increase over net sales of $4.8 billion for first nine months of 2016. For the first 9 months of 2017, BFS reported a net income was $81.5 million compared to a net income of $137.9 million during the same period a year ago.

“We proved our agility to respond to unexpected challenges, including two major hurricanes and commodity inflation,” Floyd Sherman, BFS CEO. “The company is positioned to capitalize on the growth opportunity from our national footprint, our strong customer relationships and our end market diversity. We continue our commitment to investments in strategic growth initiatives, including building our sales force and expanding our manufacturing footprint to grow shareholder value, while making further progress in paying down debt and reducing our leverage ratio on a year over year basis.”

Sherman has lead BFS for the past 16 years and will step down as CEO, effective Jan. 1, 2018

“The outlook for Builders FirstSource for the balance of 2017 and the years ahead is very promising,” said Chad Crow, BFS president and chief operating officer. The new residential housing market continues to show steady growth in demand.  Against this backdrop, we continue to invest to further leverage our scale, to broaden our product portfolio, and expand our geographic and end market diversity to capture growth in the coming years.”

Builders FirstSource is one of the nation’s largest pro dealers with more than 400 locations in 40 states. 

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