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Forty-three years ago Jerry Henson founded Henson Lumber, which serves the needs of builders throughout the Dallas/Ft. Worth region. Jerry recruited Casey Wallace to join Henson Lumber in 1996, and Casey now serves as COO and part owner of the business.
The company employs about 55 people and operates lumber and metal products divisions on 80 acres — 23 acres on concrete — in Cresson, Texas, with plenty of room to expand. The company also manufactures doors and is a reload hub.
Q: Your company sells a variety of siding options to builders and contractors. How do you stay on top of innovative products to benefit your customers?
A: We regularly educate our sales force with manufacturers’ new content, such as with email updates and sales meetings. In turn, our team keeps our customers updated about product developments.
Q: If a customer should ask for a specific product but you feel there’s an alternate product that’s a better fit for the job, how do you counsel your customer?
A: We really know our customers. Some will respect your knowledge, some prefer not to change. But we talk about products other builders are using on their jobs. If their competitors are using or asking for specific products, then builders usually want to keep up with the competition.
Q: In the siding arena, you’ve sold LP® SmartSide® engineered wood products for many years. How do you use information and support from LP to help sell its products?
A: LP has great name recognition — it’s a giant in the industry. An LP van came to a recent customer lunch. Lots of builders attended… LP handed out literature and had LP SmartSide siding samples for the few builders who hadn’t handled it previously.
LP also brought its sledgehammer demo — where the sledgehammer broke competitive siding but bounced off the LP SmartSide siding. We live in “hail alley” in Texas, even getting softball-sized hail that goes through some roofs. So siding impact resistance here is critical.
Q: How do you use the LP SmartSide Trim & Siding warranty to help assure success with these products?
A: The LP SmartSide warranty is unsurpassed. It’s pretty easy to sell. Production builders may use it as a selling point. For all builders, it is helpful knowing it is the best warranty out there. We also let customers know to follow the recommended application instructions along with care and maintenance guidelines.
Q: What are your best tips for other lumberyard dealers to grow their businesses?
A: Find your niche and be good at it. Years ago we focused on lumber and metal products. We achieved success because we kept our focus, knowing we couldn’t be everything to everyone. Because of that, our customers rely on our LBM expertise and service to help them grow their businesses. That served us well in getting through the 2008 crash, pushing current sales to pre-2008 levels.
Q: How do you grow your company’s sales?
A: By having good people, we really take care of our builders and framers. We also get lots of referrals, because this is a people business. We’re a strong independent and there will always be a place for businesses that help builders succeed. That’s how we compete with the big guys.
Q. What trends do you see in the future related to siding products? For example, LP SmartSide prefinished siding is available nationwide in response to builder needs.
A: Prefinished siding is becoming more popular, especially in the North because of the limited painting season. And in Texas, combinations of different patterns is a trend.