Shortly after flying to the northeastern corner of the U.S. to research my profile of Hancock Lumber, ProSales' pick for Dealer of the Year in 2017, I went to the far northwest to drop by Pacific Building Center in Blaine, Wash., a small town so close to Canada that cell service regularly switches to the other side of the border.
Overtly, about the only thing Hancock and Pacific Building Center have in common is that Hancock is based in Maine and Blaine was named for a prominent 19th-century senator from that state. Hancock shines for dozens of reasons, including its ProSales 100 status, smart new facilities, and 475 highly engaged employees. By contrast, Pacific is one-twentieth Hancock’s size, housed in a former bar with a 21-person staff, plus a dog, two guinea pigs, a tiny hamster, and--the only worker among the pets--a cat who keeps the rental center clear of mice.
I love both places, and for many of the same reasons.
Rarely have I seen a dealer excel in as many ways as Hancock. Its cultural foundation stones of core values, individual initiative, and data-driven insight put it in a great position to keep growing from strength to strength.
He might not accept it, but I’ll credit Kevin Hancock with leading this evolution. How he got there—through the throat condition that has ravaged his voice and through his experiences with the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) tribe in South Dakota—is touched on in our cover story. For here, suffice it to say Hancock excels in large part because Kevin Hancock went on a vision quest of self-discovery. By finding his path, Kevin helped put Hancock Lumber on a different, ultimately better road for him, his company, and the community.
Now circle back to Pacific Building Center. Kimberly Akre and sister Stephanie Munden are trailblazers in their own right: Akre is the first woman to become president of the Western Building Material Association (WBMA), and as women who co-own a lumberyard they remain fairly rare in this industry.
And while they haven’t gone on any vision quests, these two are engaged just as deeply in finding the right path to grow their business and their own business acumen. First it was learning from fellow WBMA members. Lately it has been adding a propane tank and building up a gardening business. Next is likely to be shoring up the balance sheet.
Such advances make smaller headlines than Hancock’s, but they’re a big deal in Blaine--and a great sign of our industry’s long-term future.
No dealer is too small or too remote to create the best possible company for their community. It starts by finding—even blazing—the right path for you and your operation. Best of luck doing that in 2017.