ENTREPRENEURS OF THE YEAR: 2017

By / 12 months ago

Patrick Building Supply

LBM Journal Entrepreneur of the Year 2017

Sales Under $10 Million

Seizing Opportunity

From Factory Worker to LBM Entrepreneur

Patrick Building Supply

As a customer of the lumberyard under its previous ownership, Scott Moore understood its value to the community as well as its potential for future growth.

Scott Moore knows a business opportunity when he sees one. His ability to recognize a need and his ambition to take that need on headfirst has grown his small town lumber and building supply store in Stuart, Virginia into a growing $2 million-plus business looking to expand into nearby markets. It was Moore’s knack for filling an unmet need that got him into the LBM business to begin with.

When Moore was just out of high school, he was working at a match factory in Winston-Salem, N.C. He knew he wanted to do something more with his life, but he wasn’t sure what. He wanted to get outside and work with his hands as well as contribute to his community. Moore’s father, a brick mason by trade, said that he didn’t want his son to get involved in the cyclical and inconsistent building industry. But Moore was persistent and started part time as a contractor working on small residential projects for his father until he built a strong enough reputation to go out on his own.

After a few years as a successful general contractor, Moore was faced with another challenge that he quickly turned into an opportunity. The local hardware and LBM supply store was closing. As a customer of the lumberyard as well as a steward of his community, Moore came to the conclusion that the most logical next step was to purchase the business.

“Right away when the opportunity presented itself, I knew it was going to work,” he said. “We already had a business model, we had the products, the inventory, and it just had to work.”

Moore knew that he was either going all in on the lumberyard or he wasn’t going to do it at all, so he bought the store’s remaining inventory. For the next five years, Moore leased the space that housed the store. He knew that he wanted to grow the business, but wasn’t ready to take on a whole new location right away.

“I knew the growth was going to be limited in the first location,” he said. “I also knew that if you’re not growing, you’re dying a slow death. I thought then that if I could make money in five years, I’ll move to a different location.” And move he did. In January, 2011, Moore bought new property and re-built Patrick Building Supply from the ground up. He opened the new location on Jan. 1, 2012.

Perhaps the most difficult part about getting into the business, he said, was to convince competing contractors to buy from him. When they first didn’t care for the idea of buying from another contractor, Moore eased their concerns by hiring a store manager from outside the local industry. With a skilled manager in place, Tony Martin, Moore has been able to step away from the day-to-day operations of the business.

“It’s run by Tony,” he said. “That’s how I do it. I try to work behind the scenes to grow and to look ahead and plan. Tony’s product and vendor knowledge has been key to growing the LBM portion of Patrick Building Supply.”

With nine fulltime and four part-time employees, Moore maintains a leading edge on his competition in the market at the lumberyard he and his wife, Tammy, own together.

“With the people here, we have more than 200 years of combined hardware and LBM experience,” he said. “We have a couple of guys who have been doing this their whole lives, 40 to 50-plus years. We have the knowledge and experience to get customers in and out the door with what they need.”

Indeed, customers are getting what they need from Patrick Building Supply. On pace to do $2.15 million in sales this year, Moore and his team brought 2015 sales up 14% over 2014’s total and will increase sales an additional 7% to 8% this year.

“We’re growing,” he said, “and it’s good growth, steady annual growth.” Moore’s lumberyard’s location within its market has helped contribute to the steady growth, he said. While he’s 25 miles away from Martinsville, Va. or Mount Airy, N.C., where big box stores are located, those stores are still competitors to him and he and his staff are always ready to point out to customers how the local guys can out-service the big boxes.

“We have customers who want to come in and price shop us with Lowe’s,” Moore said. “We look at big boxes as competition. Our store manager has their site pulled up and we’re competitive with them. They have their draws that try to pull people in, but we can compete with them any day.”

Patrick opened a new, ground-up lumberyard and home center in Stuart in 2012, with sales increasing near double-digit levels annually.

To ease concerns among his fellow contractors about buying from a competitor-owned enterprise, Moore brought in Tony Martin (left), a skilled and experienced manager, to run day-to-day operations at Patrick.

Unlike the more common ratio of the local dealer servicing more pro builder customers than its big box competition, Moore said he keeps Patrick Building Supply focused on the DIY retail customer as well. DIY makes up 60% of his business.

With a full-line hardware store as well as lawn and garden section, small engine repair and rental services, Moore and the Patrick Building Supply staff have built a strong business on serving the rural area surrounding its 1,400-population Stuart, Va. location. The small-town location has more benefits than negatives, Moore said.

“We have a lot of people—a lot of baby boomers—who are retiring and settling here. They’re building second homes or primary homes, and that market is really strong. The cost of living here is attractive to people, and it’s a good place to live. Plus, we’re not going to worry here about a big box store moving in on us,” Moore said.

Opportunities Ahead

With a solid customer base and a building just five years old, Moore is looking at his rental market and small implement dealer as his next means of expansion at his location in Stuart.

Just a year ago, he added a Husqvarna dealership to his offerings, selling and repairing lawnmowers, chainsaws, blowers and other grounds care products.

“Those are my best opportunities to grow,” Moore said. “We’re probably able to grow some LBM, but that’s all based on the economy. There’s only a certain amount of contractors in the area, so we’ve got to find niches to grow in other areas. We’re the size we need to be here.”

Moore keeps Patrick Building Supply’s name top-of-mind in his market through effective marketing, including print advertising, spring and fall merchandise books, annual customer appreciation events and anniversary sales, as well as on the company’s website and Facebook pages.

Moore said he likes to make changes within his current store to keep product offerings and retail displays fresh for his customers. In doing so, he said he relies heavily on his relationship with Do it Best Corp.

“I like their planograms and they know how to keep me in new products that are fresh. LBM doesn’t have to be dull,” he said. “We have things that keep our customers excited and keeps them coming back to see what is new.”

Beyond Stuart, Va., Moore said he’s looking at adding another location or acquiring another store in a different town, likely in North Carolina. While some initial ideas are in place, Moore said he’s working with the retail sales specialists at Do it Best Corp. to make sure he is moving into the right market for his business plans.

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James Anderson

James Anderson is Senior Editor at LBM Journal. He can be reached at [email protected] or 612.888.5265.