Dye Home Improvement celebrates 90 years of success by positioning itself for the future.
BY: ALYSSA SAMSON
“Some people try to find things in this game that don’t exist, but football is only two things—blocking and tackling.” This famous quote from Vince Lombardi works equally when talking about business. Focusing on the fundamentals may not sound terribly exciting, but for Art Dragoo and his team at Dye Do it Best Home Improvement, it’s the secret behind nine decades of successfully serving its customers.
“Success really relies on good, solid business principals and good people,” Dragoo tells LBM Journal. “I don’t think we’ve been doing anything too differently to serve the past challenges but focus on what we’ve being doing for 90 years.” For Dye Home Improvement that means trusting heavily on what they’re already doing: consistency of service, premium quality products, and community support and engagement.
This year, Dye Home Improvement celebrates its 90th year in business. Launched in 1924 by Dragoo’s grandfather, the operation has 26 employees among its three locations in Monticello, Monon and Royal Center, Ind. Serving both pros and homeowners, the company describes its customer base as approximately 65% contractor and 35% retail/ DIY. Recently, Dye Home Improvement worked with their co-op Do it Best Corp. to not only revitalize its Monticello store, but to also scoop up revenues from departed competitors. In 2012, the company reviewed its product line and added an additional 5,000 SKUs to its inventory, as well as a new kitchen and bath department and an in-house designer. In fact, its 10,000-sq. ft. showroom at the Monticello location devotes one third of its space to this new division.
“Do it Best walked us through the process and held our hand the whole time,” Dragoo says. “It’s always a big challenge to tackle a project like that, and they made it very seamless. We couldn’t have done it without them.”
Since the renovation project, Dye Home Improvement continues to stay focused on offering a quality selection of product by adding another 1,500 SKUs to their plumbing product lines after a local competitor closed, helping to triple sales in as little as 12 months. This, along with premium products in their framing and treated lumber, plumbing, electrical and kitchen and bath areas, gives the company a reputation for quality that sets it apart from competitors—rather than selling on just price alone.
“We have always tried to keep a higher quality level of product, so we’re not just fighting on price with the box stores—we’re selling a higher quality of product,” Dragoo says.
The revitalization of the Monticello store has given the company a boost not only in sales, but also for its future growth. Dragoo says that the sales have steadily increased, giving the company the opportunity to look for home improvement projects in the community where it can contribute in some way.
The Heart of the Operation
Dragoo adds that undergoing such a large project could not have been possible without the full support and cooperation of the community and the employees at Dye Home Improvement. Concerned that customers would be deterred by the renovations, employees helped make the transition as smooth as possible.
And although the process was a change for Dye Home Improvement, it still remains focused on offering the practices that have helped build its reputation. To this day, the company still offers tool rental services geared towards contractors who would otherwise have a long drive, free delivery of products, as well as free estimates and design services for kitchen and bath. To maximize efficiency during the slower season, Dye Home Improvement builds storage barns during the winter, selling each off in the spring and summer months.
But these business practices would not be as effective if they weren’t backed by genuine customer service. With employee experience ranging as far back as 40 years, Dragoo notes that growing revenues come down to having great people on staff. The knowledge and experience a customer receives is consistent with every visit.
“We have some fantastic people and we have a very stable workforce,” Dragoo says. “Our customers enjoy a consistent experience at Dye Home Improvement, because they know they’re going to get quality service and sound advice.”
Like other lumberyards, Dye Home Improvement has experienced its challenges throughout the years. “We continue to have additional competitors come and go; there are constant margin pressures because of the competition,” Dragoo says. “Consumers today are more educated on prices and products, so it’s our job to stay informed on new products. It can be a challenge to keep up.”
On the other hand, while customers are becoming increasingly educated, adding more products—supported by industry knowledge—has helped Dye Lumber stay relevant in the market.
“The opportunity is to continue to stay on top of new products and educating customers,” Dragoo notes. “We consistently try to review our product lines, seeing what is working and what’s not, giving us the flexibility to change direction at any time.”
A Steady Future Ahead
Along with educating its employees through hands-on personal training, Dye Home Improvement utilizes manufacturers’ educational opportunities and education programs through Do it Best. Dye Home Improvement hosts a contractor appreciation lunch each December, and offers training sessions for its customers. The sessions include seminars on building code changes or education on new products from vendors. The company is also active in its local builders’ association, and reaches out to its customers through print, radio, and social media advertisements.
In addition, as president of the local community foundation, Dragoo emphasizes that it is Dye Home Improvement’s responsibility to show its appreciation to the community through contributions and sponsorships, because the people have supported the company for almost a century.
On the horizon, Dye Home Improvement’s outlook is trending in the right direction. Since agriculture is a big part of the area’s economy, the company says it will definitely be keeping an eye on that particular industry—crop yield, weather, etc. In the meantime, Dragoo plans on expanding the showroom and increasing available storage space, along with other plans.
“We are always trying to look for opportunities, either in new products or by keeping an eye on the competition,” Dragoo says. “We would certainly entertain the idea of additional locations if the opportunity arose.”
Regardless of expansion, he agrees that the company’s success relies heavily on practicing the blocking and tackling that have defined the company for nearly a century.
“We’re very proud of our heritage and we are proud to be here after 90 years,” Dragoo adds. “I think we’ll continue to be successful if we continue to practice sound business, take care of our own people and take care of our customers— I think those are the reasons why we’re still here.”