In Kremmling, Colorado, nestled along the Colorado River just a few hours west of Denver, it’s impossible for Rory Menhennett not to have a sense of pride in his community. His family has been in the Rocky Mountain town since his great-great-grandfather operated a livery barn in the very early 1900s. Two generations later Rory’s father, Tim,
ran a fencing contractor business out of the same building.
Around the time Rory was born, his father bought a foreclosed building materials business with the intention of expanding his fencing service. He donated the original livery building to the local historical society. Once settled into the new space, customers began asking for lumber products. By 1992, Tim sold the fence company and Northwest Ranch Supply was born. Rory’s mother, Tami, came to work as well to handle the accounting and billing. And as the lumberyard grew, Rory grew along with it.
For as long as Rory can remember, his goal was to take on the family business, and he was eager to get started at a young age. As a 7-year-old, he once submitted an invoice to his dad titled “Jobs” which included several billable items such as “organize your desk,” “go get you a treat or pop,” and “count my money and go back home.” The framed invoice still hangs above Tim’s desk.
“Ever since I was little, I always wanted to continue what my dad had built,” Rory said. “I wanted to keep this business in the family.” After he graduated from high school in 2008, he pursued a business degree for a few years before returning to the store and taking on increasing responsibilities.
Now 30 years old and recently married, Rory Menhennett oversees the day-to-day operations of the company and, along with his parents, is working through a succession plan to take on ownership within a few years.
Making his mark
Rory’s influence on Northwest Ranch Supply was evident early on. In 2012 he spearheaded an entire remerchandising of the store’s hardware inventory. Sales jumped 24% the year after Rory’s remerchandising; sales in the electrical department were particularly strong, improving 59%. The store’s average ticket increased by more than $20—a 24% growth.
In 2016, Rory decided the store needed a fresh look to go along with their improved product selection, so he initiated a redesign throughout.
“We updated our look and made everything more shoppable,” he said. “We did an entire remodel of the interior sales floor with new shelving and lighting. We pulled up the carpet and remodeled and painted.”
SKUs were added particularly in specialty items, whether on the advice of other dealers in the industry, or through specific builder requests. Everything from culvert pipe to hardware items to herbicide, irrigation, and cattle feed contributed to the sales increase.
The result of adding new SKUs, “increased our sales quite a bit.” That “quite a bit,” as Rory said, was just part of his influence that has amounted to a 126% increase—or about $3.3 million—since he returned to the family business.
Northwest Ranch Supply is also a destination store in the region. The company utilizes separate buildings on the grounds for windows and door sales as well as a design center showroom separate from the main location. The building houses a conference room available for builders to host clients. Another building features a decking showroom, and another that was remodeled last year displays kitchen and bath items.
Serving the region
While the town’s population is around 1,500, Northwest Ranch Supply serves a delivery range made up of custom builders constructing second-homes and vacation properties in what’s known as a “sportsman’s paradise” near ski resort country.
As the cost of living in larger ski resort villages increases, more people are moving closer to more-affordable Kremmling, Rory said, which is good for business at Northwest Ranch Supply.
The single location, staffed by a team of 16 (including the Menhennetts) serves a customer base made up of about 65% pro builders. Overall, the company tops around $6 million in revenues annually, which Rory said has been growing, including during this year’s COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were open the whole time, and were very busy. A lot of projects still went on. Walk-in business was always pretty strong, but all the small projects increased the foot traffic quite a bit,” he said.
While the Menhennetts have the market on hardware and building supplies in Kremmling, they do compete with other independents and big boxes all within driving distance. Still, the family sets itself apart through service.
“We just try to provide the best service we can,” Rory said. “We try to work with people. Being a small lumberyard, our service is what sets us apart. We’re more personable with customers and people like the family-owned atmosphere.”
Rory predicts that the number of people in the region who have grown accustomed to working from home and plan to continue to do so after the pandemic will contribute to the growth in the area’s housing market.
“There’s definitely a lot of people around here who can work from home. A lot of people from the cities are realizing that if they’re going to work from home, they can at least be somewhere they can enjoy.”
Along with that growth in the near future is the challenge that it brings on the supply side, Rory said. With mills closed during the pandemic and lumber supplies tight, he’s now seeing different products in shortage.
“It seems every week there is something new that is backordered. This has affected prices as well.”
Knowing the lumber shortage and unpredictable business due to the pandemic are temporary issues, Rory is focused on the future in Kremmling. As he grows closer to owning the business, he has an eye on growth whether that means building a new location or expanding upon their current site.
“We gained a lot of room in the remodel,” he said, “and we’ve filled it up already and are ready for more space.”
Rory also added an online shopping option so customers can purchase a large selection of hardware items. He uses the store’s website to promote services such as delivery, special orders, project estimates, small engine repair, and paint color matching.
Commitment to community
Northwest Ranch Supply will grow along with the community of Kremmling, and Rory doesn’t take that commitment lightly. Whether volunteering with youth hockey or 4-H activities, the family and company continue to contribute to the community through the Menhennett Foundation. The foundation was formed around the time Rory was born as the Glenn F. Menhennett 4-H Scholarship (named after Rory’s grandfather). It started as a $500 scholarship for graduating seniors who were a part of 4-H. It grew to the point they were giving away two $2,500 scholarships every year. To expand its reach, the family decided to turn the loose-knit organization into a foundation. Now, the foundation awards not only scholarships to graduating seniors, but also financial assistance to local families who may be going through hardships.
Over the last five years, Rory has organized an annual golf tournament that raises funds for the foundation. He works to generate support from vendors and community members to make this event a success. Rory and his family find the best way to use the money to help those in need. Their foundation now distributes approximately $10,000 per year throughout their local community.
“I like helping people with their projects, because the more things get built up, then the more that helps the community and the economy,” Rory said. “I want to do everything I can to help out this town because I grew up here. I love this town and want to see it grow. I want Northwest Ranch Supply to be a big part of that.”