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DEALER PROFILE: Playing to Your Strengths

“We’re adaptable,” says Jim Cavanaugh, president of Mill Creek’s Lumber and Millwork division. “We’re embracing technology and we are approaching our customers in a consulting manner. We endeavor to assist them to be more successful in what they do. If our customers are successful, then we will be successful.”

In 2004, Jeff Dunn became president of Mill Creek Lumber and Supply after practicing law for 10 years. His father, Jim  Dunn,  remains  chairman  of  Mill Creek’s Board of Directors. Cavanaugh joined the company in 2012 after leading Hope Lumber and Supply for 20 years and spending the last five in an executive role after the company was acquired by ProBuild. Today, Mill Creek—a company that gained its name from the bubbling creek in Mount Magazine, Ark. where Pete Dunn grew up—ends 2014 strong with roughly $175 million in sales.

An organic future
“Our focus is to grow,” Cavanaugh says. “We have been through the six to eight worst years in terms of single-family growth, and we’re back on the growth path.”

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After managing the effects of the recession, Mill Creek decided to shed its pre-recession skin and focus on recovery and growth. “For us, one big change is that we have closed a couple of small locations, but we have also expanded into Oklahoma City,” Cavanaugh explains. “Not only have we opened a location in Oklahoma City, but we’ve acquired a millwork company as well.”

With nine locations throughout Oklahoma and Kansas, 20 carpet and tile locations and a commercial casework/ custom millwork shop and granite shop, the company services roughly 85% contractors and 15% retail/DIY, along with employing a total of 530 team members.

Mill Creek’s growth strategy is predicated upon maintaining complementary core businesses that add diverse revenue streams. Wood Systems, Inc., for example, is a tremendous strategic asset in weathering difficult economic times. Thanks to its focus on commercial construction, Wood Systems is not affected by swings in residential construction.

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Similarly, Mill Creek Carpet and Tile Company complements the company strategically and financially. Generally, when new-house  construction  is  “off,” remodeling activities, which comprise roughly two thirds of the carpet and tile business, flourish. Mill Creek Carpet and Tile grew from an idea to take a niche business to a core business very quickly. Both Wood Systems and Mill Creek Carpet and Tile are vital core businesses for Mill Creek going forward.

While Mill Creek is committed to growing organically,  Cavanaugh  notes that the company is also open to seizing new business opportunities. Along with procuring additional machinery and equipment to increase production automation and efficiency, Cavanaugh explains that there are other prospects on the company’s radar. “Our biggest opportunity is to complete the development of the new markets we’re in,” he says. “We have been in Wichita for about seven years. Mill Creek got into that area when the market was declining, and we have a clear opportunity to continue developing our share of that market.”

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