LUMBERYARDS

Kodiak expands in Colorado

BY HBSDealer Staff

Kodiak Building Partners revealed that it is solidifying its position in Colorado with the acquisition of Drywall Materials, LLC., which specializes in building products for residential and commercial drywall contractor customers. 

According to terms of the agreement and a statement issued by both companies, Kodiak “would purchase substantially all of the operating assets” of Drywall Material Sales, with locations in Colorado Springs and Pueblo. The deal is scheduled to close by the end of the third quarter. 

“We’ve been interested in joining forces with Drywall Material Sales for many years, and look forward to supporting the growth trajectory that the Drywall Material Sales team is on and feel they will be a significant contributor to Kodiak’s future,” Paul Hylbert, chairman of Kodiak, said in a press release.

“We look forward to working with the excellent Drywall Material Sales team, supporting their business and continuing to grow with them in Colorado,” said Steve Swinney, Kodiak’s CEO. “We feel we can leverage the Drywall Material Sales name and reputation and do more to serve their strong customer base. Most importantly, the Drywall Material Sales key management team including Robert Wupper, Jr, Bruce Hegemann, and Benjamin Wupper will continue with the company under the new ownership structure.”

Kodiak already operated five locations in Colorado under the Jones Heartz Building Supply and Barton Supply banners. Following the latest move, Kodiak operates 36 locations in Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, Michigan, New England, and Texas. 

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Millard Lumber: Products, service and hold the paper

BY Ken Clark

Omaha, Neb.-based Millard Lumber has looked at its three markets and drawn the same conclusion made all around the country. Builder customers are struggling with labor challenges. The national challenge is made more difficult locally by Nebraska’s unemployment rate, which hovers in the neighborhood of 2%.

And like any award-winning dealer, Millard Lumber is doing something about it — bolstering its manufacturing strength, pushing ahead on communication efficiencies and introducing new labor-saving services.

Millard Lumber, a family business that promotes itself accurately as “More than Lumber,” will accept the 2017 Independent Pro Dealer of the Year award at the upcoming ProDealer Industry Summit on Oct. 17 to 19 in Phoenix. The dealer operates a diverse trio of locations — in Omaha and Waverly, Neb., and Spring Hill, Kan. 

“Everything we see coming down the pipeline shows the builder customer is having as much trouble or more trouble finding labor than we are,” said Joel Russell, VP and COO of Millard Lumber. “So where we can take a process that requires them to spend less time in the field, and turn it into a manufactured or finished kit product, saving them time in the process — they’re finding value in that.”

Case in point, it recently introduced an aluminum railing fabrication system, Harmony Railing, that allows for delivery of customized panels, reducing installation to minutes or hours, as opposed to an entire day or days. The system has been an immediate hit, Russell said.

With the same motives, it’s increasing its manufacturing capacity, primarily in structural components — trusses and wall panels. Again, the idea is to simplify and speed up the work at the job site. 

And talking of speed, Millard is pushing boundaries as a paperless pro dealer. That’s right: paperless. Not entirely, not yet, but it’s warehouse has moved almost completely away from paper and toward handheld scanner guns, a digital communication approach from order receiving to dispatch operations.

“It’s not that we hate paper,” Russell said. “It’s because every time there’s a piece of paper, there’s a chance it will get lost. The less paper, the less opportunity to make a mistake or slow down the process, and that relates to our ability to help the customer.”

Consider what happens when an order is changed, a common situation in a lumberyard. In the old days, an altered order means more paper, more confusion and more uncertainty at both ends of the delivery. With the paperless Millard system, the customer’s order can be updated in the middle of the picking process.

The company’s next paperless migration is occurring in the manufacturing area, currently still a paper-intensive environment.

Living up to its “More than Lumber” slogan, Millard’s locations run the home improvement spectrum from hardware store, drive-through warehouse and design center in Omaha, all that and truss manufacturing in Waverly, and a cabinet sales operation in Spring Hill. The strategy for success across all those disciplines is easy — keep the customers happy. The trick is in the execution, he said.

“I mean, there’s not a lot of rocket science in our industry,” Russell said. “I wish there was. And there’s not a whole lot of secrets either. It’s just a matter of finding those things that your customers in your market find important and making sure that you're doing extremely well on those.”

The family business, which includes Joel’s father, Rick, and his brother, Mark, embraces the theory that success requires mastery of many different interconnected facets of the business. Operational efficiency has an impact on job satisfaction, and both have an impact on service.

The company’s efforts to improve efficiency impact many areas, including recruitment and retention.

“For recruiting, we don’t have a magic bullet, and I don’t think that anyone in the industry does,” he said. “But the easier you can make the process for someone who is coming in and doesn’t have industry experience to do their job and avoid mistakes — that’s what we’re striving for.”

Millard also participates in local high school and college construction academies and mentoring programs to introduce kids to the business. And Millard prides itself on its practice of promoting talent through the ranks.

Asked to point to the single-most important project at Millard, Russell preferred to describe a holistic approach: “It’s more making sure we are out in front of the market in the areas as we see growing, and we are conforming to our internal metrics to make sure our customers are delighted with our service.”

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Lezzer Lumber’s Lehigh Valley expansion

BY HBSDealer Staff

Lezzer Lumber, Inc., acquired People’s Building Supply, a leading building supply company located in Stockertown, Pa. The move expands Lezzer’s presence into the Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas including Bucks and Montgomery Counties, Northern Philadelphia, Western New Jersey and North Pennsylvania into the Poconos.

The addition of Stockertown will be the company’s 15th location, a footprint that includes 12 retail facilities, and 3 manufacturing plants.

Lezzer Lumber continues to build off its 90-year history as a building materials supplier throughout Pennsylvania.

“We have been looking to expand into the Lehigh Valley and Eastern Pennsylvania, and the purchase of People’s gives us the geographic foot print we have been looking for,” said KC Lezzer, VP of Lezzer Lumber. “People’s Building Supply has a good nucleus of employees there now, so we’re looking forward to adding a sound management and outside sales team to help support them and provide a great experience to our customers. As part of the acquisition we also purchased an additional 10 acres of property for future expansion. We see this as an excellent opportunity to continue to grow this business and serve the Lehigh Valley.”

Lezzer Lumber has been family owned for 90 years and is currently operating under the third generation of Lezzers. 

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