The Lester Group elects new CEO

Virginia company plans to open its fifth retail location in May.

BY HBSDealer Staff

The Lester Group announced that its board of directors has elected Jay Dickens as president and CEO.

Dickens has been promoted following the retirement of Jim O’Brien.

O’Brien, 70, joined The Lester Group in 2010.  The board elected O’Brien to co-chair of the board of directors and he will continue to be involved in the company, The Lester Group said.

Dickens, 58, joined The Lester Group in 2018 as president. He has 37 years of experience in the building products industry. Prior to joining The Lester Group, Dickens served as vice president of American Direct, a provider of architectural doors, hardware and integrated security solutions.

Dickens also held executive positions with Rugby and Huttig Building Products.

Jay Dickens

A native of Little Rock, Ark., Dickens grew up in the building products industry. His great grandfather operated a sawmill, his grandfather owned a furniture manufacturing business,  and his father was an executive at the founding of Wilsonart, the manufacturer of engineered surfaces.

The Lester Group’s core business is building materials, retail stores and manufacturing treated lumber along with commercial and residential doors. The Martinsville, Va.-based company also has more than 18,000 acres of forest lands in Virginia and North Carolina. In addition, Lester’s real estate division has developed residential communities, shopping centers, office buildings and restaurants in Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia.

“The Lester Group is in an excellent position,” said O’Brien.  “Company sales set a record last year. An outstanding senior management team has vast experience and is built on solid core values.”

George W. Lester, II, who retired as CEO in 2018 after 44 years, praised O’Brien for “doing a fantastic job.

“He’s a far-sighted leader with a steady hand,” said Lester.   “Our company has a great future.”  Lester is Co-Chair of the board with O’Brien.

According to Dickens, despite the current coronavirus crisis, employment at The Lester group will continue to grow and exceed 200 employees by the end of May.

“We will continue to invest in people, ideas and technology that help us serve our customers better, improve the quality of the work experience of employees, and strengthen the communities we serve,” he said.

The company plans to open its fifth retail store in May in Christiansburg, Va.

“As an ‘essential’ business in the current economic climate caused by the coronavirus, The Lester Group has a positive outlook for continued growth,” Dickens said.

“Our goal is to expand the company’s capacity to continue to increase sales profitably,” he added.  “We are in a strong growth position because we have a unique culture, are nimble, and can take advantage of opportunities quickly.”






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