Ben Franklin famously said, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” For those who make their living in the LBM industry, I’d like to add a third inevitability: competition. Not only is it always present, it’s continually morphing and evolving. Companies in rural areas used to be somewhat immune, but the emerging reality of e-commerce (online retailers as well as marketplaces like Amazon) is changing that. I know of one LBM dealer who’d carved a solid niche with a particular product, and was baffled when his sales of that item plunged. It turned out that the manufacturer had decided to bypass the traditional LBM channel and sell direct through Amazon.
Intense competition can be daunting, especially when the rules of business can change on the fly or, even worse, when battling an unscrupulous competitor. Clearly, today’s LBM business is not for the faint of heart.
Then again, intense competition can be energizing. The people I talk with in our industry tend to land in this category. The reason? Provided they have a solid team, good customer base and a compelling competitive advantage (all of which are likely true for any/all dealers who’ve survived the past decade), they’re well positioned to serve their market.
Within that group, the companies who I believe have the most success are those who acknowledge the fact that they compete with other companies, but they resist the temptation to focus on the competition. I’ve seen companies who obsess over what the competition is doing. And in my experience, that never, ever works in their favor. Success comes most freely to those who focus on their people, their customers, and their overall goals. Success comes to those who run their race.
We’re fortunate to belong to an industry with lots of dealers who not only run their race, they’re willing to share their story. Dave Reichert, Owner and President of Davis-Hawn Lumber in Dallas is an excellent example. After reading his story beginning on page 40, you’ll understand why we put this lawyer-turned-lumber dealer on the cover of this month’s issue. (If you like reading about other dealers, there are years worth of past issues available on LBMJournal.com.)
When LBM Journal launched in 2003 from the ashes of a former publication, some said we’d never survive. After all, competition was intense, and we had very limited resources. Instead, we had a small, first-class team and a reputation for helping readers and advertisers grow their business. As it turned out, running our race (by focusing on our people and our audience) was enough.
Competition is a given. The time spent focusing on what the other guys are doing and how they’re doing it is time that we’re not focusing on our team, our customers, and our company. Here’s to your continued success, and to running your race.