Big Question. Big Answers.

Publisher Letter

Every issue of LBM Journal includes practical, tactical insights into how to run our businesses better and smarter. Since launching in 2003, we’ve worked to identify and secure the top content experts in each area, so that’s why we’re proud to have leaders like Rick Davis, John Wagner, Thea Dudley, Bill Lee, Shane Soule, Rikka Brandon, and Russ Kathrein share their wisdom in each and every issue.

In addition to that street-level business intelligence, this issue tackles what some industry observers view as a more existential question: The Future of the Independent LBM Dealer. As with all Real Issues. Real Answers. features, this one consists of you and your fellow LBM pros answering a question posed by one of your peers. More than 200 readers took time to weigh in on this issue and, with more than 90% of them sharing from the perspective of an independent dealer, the thoughts on these pages cover the spectrum. Here are some samples:

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  • “I believe that the days of the independent lumber dealers are over; consolidation is the name of the game. ”
  • “The efficiencies that would come from consolidation would never outweigh the joys of being independent.”
  • “We are acquiring other independents.”
  • “If your heart and head are still excited about the business, then stay in the game.”
  • “If the price is right…sell!”

The question of the future of independent dealers isn’t new. When I joined this industry in 1990, the mainstream business press was scrambling to declare independent LBM dealers as good as dead. After all, how could they possibly compete with Home Depot, Lowes, Builders Square, etc.? How indeed.

Granted, today’s situation is different. Low interest rates and strong demand for housing have combined for what John Wagner has called “a perfect wave,” with ideal conditions for strong independent dealers who are looking to sell, and for companies looking to add locations.

The range of thoughts and opinions in that article make several things clear. First, there is no one right answer. Second, the healthy debate surrounding this question hammers home the fact that the LBM Community—dealers, distributors, wholesalers, manufacturers, and service providers—comprise a vibrant industry that’s evolving to meet the housing needs of a growing population.

There are no shortage of big questions facing our industry. And there is no doubt in my mind that the LBM Community has the answers to match.

— Rick Schumacher
Executive Editor & Publisher


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