EDITORS NOTE: Lessons In Growth

Our job, as parents and/or business-people, is to do our best to navigate the road ahead—and to somehow know when to say no, when to let go, and when to push forward and stretch.

Our son is just days away from turning eight. I know that because it’s the primary topic of conversation around our house. Since his birth coincided with one of the worst economic recessions we’ve ever experienced, the past eight years of my life have been spent watching my son—and our industry—stretch and grow. In that time, I’ve watched my son go from an immobile little mini-me, to a fearless boy who is never happier than when he’s going as fast as possible on his bike, or ice skates (or whatever). As he is quickly learning, going pedal-to-the-metal is not without its risks. But for someone who measures success in sheer speed, the crashes and scrapes are the price of admission. After all, he knows how fast he went yesterday…but how fast can he go today?

For an industry that went from full speed until hitting a wall in 2007, to relearning how to walk in 2008, and finally hitting its stride in 2015, there are parallels. As businesspeople, we know where our companies have been, and we know where we’d like them to go, but do we know how to get them there? Different companies measure success differently. Some use market share, some use year-over-year sales, some keep score with profitability, and others with number of stores and overall revenues. Regardless your company’s objective, our job at LBM Journal is to share stories and insights to help you get there.

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Whether you’re a kid learning how to skate, or a company looking to grow its bottom line, a smart strategy is to observe someone who can do something you can’t. That, in a nutshell, is the purpose of our monthly dealer profiles. In this issue, for example, we share the story of Spahn & Rose Lumber. Featuring a gorgeous new showroom (complete with a 1,000-sq. ft. model home), this 100+ year-old Iowa company is clearly not content with where it was. Instead, it’s investing heavily in its future. And as you’ll read beginning on page 42, the investment is paying dividends. Looking for ideas on jump-starting your company? This is a great place to start.

Another great way to get better is to learn from peers. Talking and sharing challenges and solutions with other dealers is one of the most attractive elements of live events—like the upcoming LBM Distribution Conference in Atlanta, Sept. 16-17. Back to the magazine, our monthly Real Issues. Real Answers. article features real insights from real dealers. This month, with many dealers struggling to hire and retain experienced sales pros, we ask what’s the most attractive sales compensation plan: salary, commission, or a combination of both. (Note: for a deep dive on this topic, don’t miss our annual Sales Compensation Report next issue.)

Lastly, growth happens only when we do something unfamiliar. For many companies rooted in lumber and building materials, social media represents a strange, uncomfortable new world. As social media has evolved from something for teenagers into a recognized business strategy, our new Digital Case Studies feature aims to demystify Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and to demonstrate how other dealers are using digital marketing to make a difference for their company.