Editor’s Note: Hearing voices

rick schumacher

Just back in the office after the LBM Strategies Conference 2018, there is so much that I want to share—but I’ve managed to pare it down to just two thoughts for this page.

Since the beginning of my journey in this industry back in 1990, I’ve always been taken with the powerful energy created when dealers, distributors and other industry pros are together in the same room. Back in 1990, the word “independent” was a key descriptor for many LBM dealers. Despite the tremendous amount of consolidation that’s occurred since then, there’s still a fiercely independent individualism that defines our LBM community.

Notice I said community. As Rick Davis says, “We build the houses that people live in…work in…play in…and pray in.” That’s no small thing. The people reading this magazine, and those who attended the LBM Strategies Conference, comprise a special community. You are uniquely positioned to have a tremendous impact on others.

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Like all communities, the LBM community is made up of individuals—each of whom has a story, and a voice. That’s why 20 of the 25 people who took the stage during the LBM Strategies Conference are dealers and distributors, just like you. Not only do they have a story, each was willing to step outside their comfort zone and get up in front of more than 180 of their peers, to use their voice and tell their story. How they do what they do, the challenges they’ve faced and the successes they’ve enjoyed. It was powerful stuff…as evidenced by the standing ovation that closed the conference.

Kevin Hancock delivered the kickoff keynote talk at the beginning of the conference that effectively set the stage for everything that followed. Kevin shared a genuinely inspirational message that was borne from his battle with spasmodic dysphonia, a rare neurological voice disorder. Imagine being a leader of a company with 10 retail locations and two sawmills, and being unable to speak. As a result, he learned the power of listening. Kevin wrote this in a September 2016 commentary for LBM Journal: “By 2012, I came to see my voice condition as an opportunity, not a liability. The opportunity was simple yet powerful: what if we could create an organization where everybody served as a leader…where every voice felt trusted, respected, important and heard?” In Hancock Lumber’s case, what happened was a strong company that was recently named a Best Place to Work for the fifth year in a row.

This weekend, Kevin sent me a very kind email that said, “I spoke about listening to the employees within a company. You have developed a system for listening to the dealers within the industry…letting the dealers select a topic of interest then assembling discussion around that subject.”

In those few words and his distinctive voice, Kevin summed up our mission with the LBM Strategies Conference and LBM Journal. The magazine, the conference, the website…it all exists for you and because of you.

Which brings me to the second thought: gratitude. Thank you for being a part of our amazing community, and for letting LBM Journal amplify your voice.

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