Lester Group elects president

The Diversified parent company of Lester Lumber taps Jay Dickens.

BY HBSDealer Staff

Jay Dickens, a building products executive, has been elected president of The Lester Group, a diversified enterprise with operations in three states.

Dickens, 56, comes from Kansas City where he was VP of American Direct, a supplier of architectural doors, frames, hardware and integrated security solutions. According to the announcement, Dickens is recognized for success in aligning businesses and motivating teams to deliver outstanding results in complex and evolving markets.

Dickens fills the vacancy created in May when Jim O’Brien was elected CEO of The Lester Group after George W. Lester II’s retirement. Lester, son of the founder of the company, was CEO for 44 years. O’Brien was elected president of The Lester Group in 2014.

A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, Dickens has 35 years’ experience in the building products industry. He grew up in the industry. His great grandfather operated a saw mill; his grandfather owned a furniture manufacturer; and his father was co-founder of Wilsonart, a manufacturer of engineered surfaces.

“The Lester Group is a highly respected business,” said Dickens. “I am attracted by the integrity of the organization and the opportunity to be involved in a highly diversified business with tremendous growth potential.

Jay Dickens

“My goals are to grow the business, enhance customer satisfaction and increase employee engagement,” said Dickens.

Dickens was hired after a national search for an executive with a proven track record in building materials, distribution, management, innovation and people skills. “Jay fits our profile in every way,” said O’Brien.

“Under Jay’s leadership, we expect to double our business in the next five years,” said O’Brien.

He said The Lester Group has set revenue records the past two years, and revenue increased by nearly 45 percent since 2013. The Lester Group’s core business is building materials, operating retail stores and manufacturing treated lumber and commercial and residential doors. Lester also has more than 18,000 acres of forest lands. In addition, Lester’s real estate division has developed residential communities, shopping centers, office buildings and restaurants in Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia.

Founded in1896, The Lester Group has more than 200 employees and is based in Martinsville, Va.


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