FIVE QUESTIONS WITH: Dan Starr, CEO, Do it Best Corp.
|Dan Starr has served as president and CEO of Do it Best Corp. since January 4, 2016. Dan joined Do it Best Corp. in 2005 as director of human resources and general counsel, was promoted to vice president of human resources in July 2006 and was named executive vice president and chief operating officer in June 2012. He succeeds former President and CEO Bob Taylor, who served in that capacity since 2002. Dan is only the fifth CEO since the company was founded in 1945.|
1. There’s no shortage of challenges facing lumber and building material dealers. In your view, what do you see as the single biggest challenge…and, on the flipside, the single biggest opportunity?
For many independent LBM dealers, the biggest challenge remains creating and implementing a well-planned succession for their business. One of the lasting effects of the Great Recession was the widespread departure of the next generation of leadership from the industry, leaving a void of young leaders. There’s a real need to get the younger generation excited about opportunities in the industry—and we’re working closely with our members to do just that. It is that very challenge that presents opportunity. While we believe there are indicators of coming recovery, even in the current environment there are growth opportunities for the well-positioned independent LBM dealer. In a high-touch service industry, local dealers are more agile and can more quickly adjust to business needs. Our LBM team sees particularly strong growth in certain sectors—like repair and remodel, for example. It’s a more stable sector, which means steady growth for those dealers able to take advantage of it.
2. Consolidation among LBM dealers—both large and small—is effectively reshaping the competitive landscape. What do you see as the long-term impact of this trend for your members, and the industry at large?
Many of our member-owners see opportunity in consolidation and acquisition. It offers them the best of both worlds—they can scale and grow exponentially, while remaining independent and agile. They can also add experienced staff to their team and be better positioned to take advantage of the opportunities that come out of consolidation. Again, it’s our responsibility to work closely with and support those members looking to grow their business in this way.
3. E-commerce poses a special challenge for LBM dealers—because of the weight and bulk of many building materials. How do you see the e-commerce trend playing out for LBM?
While we’re a ways off from people ordering housing kits online, there certainly are an increasing number of pros buying product online. We continue to see more and more end-users doing their own research of LBM products, which means our e-commerce solutions need to help our dealers serve as that expert resource for these increasingly informed consumers. How that all will work is still evolving and we’ve partnered with several leading vendors to explore alternatives.
4. With all that’s going on in the market—including the issues from the first three questions—what’s your view on the future of independent LBM dealers?
The future for independent LBM dealers is strong. There’s always a need for new and remodeled housing—and our projections for the next two to three years are very positive. There is still quite a bit of pent-up demand in the marketplace, and it is our primary goal to support our members and help them take advantage of that demand. We are excited about what the future holds for independent LBM dealers.
5. Since taking the reins of leadership in January, you’re just the fifth president and CEO in Do it Best’s 70-plus year history. What are three areas of the business where you hope to make your mark?
Ultimately, I know I’ll have contributed to our team’s success every time we help our members grow and achieve their dreams. Working with such a diverse member base makes achieving that goal a tough one—but there’s nothing more rewarding than exceeding a member’s expectations and helping them profitably grow their business.
I am also very committed to ensuring we have assembled the very best team to serve our members. We have worked hard to build a deep bench of talent—the best in the industry—and to strengthen that team by seeing to it that Do it Best Corp. is a great place to work.
Our mission at Do it Best Corp. is to make the best even better and nowhere is that more critical than in our discipline to operational excellence. We strive toward continuous improvement in serving our members. I’m extremely proud of our team’s ability to embrace new technology as we look for opportunities to improve communication, enhance delivery and reduce costs.