In about the same distance Tiger Woods plays the Augusta National Golf Club, site of this month's Masters Tournament, he could stroll to Pratt-Dudley Builders Supply in downtown Augusta. It was founded in 1935, just four years after the tournament, by Pratt's father. Here's how this $5 million yard navigates LBM's hazards.
Setting the Handicap. We do a monthly P&L. We compare to the same month last year ...[but] you have to throw out 2006 and 2007, basically. Things were just so abnormally high then–just too hot.
Club Selection. Commercial used to be 15% of our business. Now it's 35%. But commercial didn't pick up; it's the home builder that left. I thank my lucky stars I didn't take my cash registers out.
Tee Time. During Masters week itself, business is slow because a lot of local people take vacations and rent their houses. Schools close. [It's also] like homecoming; you have kids come back and mooch your tickets. In a typical year, when people are spending money, they're sprucing up their houses for the rental, and then they have that little fortune that came in [from rentals] for home improvements.
Making the Cut. Now, it's all about survival ... and I plan to stay here. It's coming back to management basics. Volume hid a lot of ills, and the graveyard is full of the ones who forgot the basics.