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PROFILE: A Change In The Wind

“The new store [Dawson] brought a retail presence into a market area where we were already shipping building products to contractors,” Short says. “It helped expand the geographical footprint of the Albany location by providing the convenience of faster pick-up times and quicker fill-in deliveries.”

Finally, due to the success at the Dawson location, the company restructured its Sylvester location to match, allowing the Tifton store—only 20 miles away—to manage deliveries for the location. This “hub and spoke” approach has worked well to bring revenue into the smaller stores with DIY projects, the showroom and remodelers, while the bigger stores can focus on delivering the larger orders. “We are able to more efficiently use both our inventory and our equipment by transferring the logistical responsibility to the larger stores,” Short adds.

On top of a restructured business model, Short and Paulk Supply also implemented other changes to give its business a competitive advantage, helping to stay ahead of market changes.

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“In the last couple of years, we really have worked on efficiency,” Short explains. “We invested in a new computer system and it really has helped us put a lot of measurements on things that we were not able to monitor very well with our old system.”

The enhanced IT capabilities have helped the operation more effectively manage its inventory control and distribution, and Short says that the company has already seen dividends from the investment.

But while an updated computer system has certainly made a difference, there are still obstacles to face in order to get where the company wants to go. “We did not upgrade a lot of equipment during the downturn, as a result, some of our fleet is beginning to age and we are starting to replace trucks,” Short says. “Revenue trends over the past couple of years show that continued growth is imminent, but Short is cautious to not do too much too soon.

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“One of the challenges is making sure we grow and we grow profitably,” he explains. “We want to grow at a controlled rate—sales are important but it’s not a sale until it’s paid for.”

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