Spring isn't only home buying season; it's also when many runners hit the trails. You'll likely see Tom Randolph among them. When not at the helm of his family-owned specialty distributor, he is training for triathlons, marathons, and ultra-marathons. And in this growth market, it helps to have a competitive edge.
Spring isn't only home buying season; it's also when many runners hit the trails. You'll likely see Tom Randolph among them. When not at the helm of his family-owned specialty distributor, he is training for triathlons, marathons, and ultra-marathons. And in this growth market, it helps to have a competitive edge.


I started running in 1997, when I met my wife. Since then I’ve qualified for the Boston Marathon on every attempt. But my favorite race is the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon. You start at Alcatraz Island and swim 1.5 miles across the San Francisco Bay. Then you bike 18 miles and follow it with an 8-mile run up cliffs, down cliffs, and across the beach. It’s a challenge, and when you finish, you feel like you’ve accomplished something.

Desk Jockey I wear a lot of hats, which means I spend a lot of time at my desk. We cut our employee count from 60 to 30 during the downturn, so I do sales and marketing, human resources, half the bookkeeping, as well as legal, banking, and credit collection. In the afternoon I’ll visit our millwork and window and door shops, the loading dock, and customer service.

Finding Workers Craigslist is a great place to find blue-collar warehouse labor. I can place an ad in the newspaper and get three to five responses, or I can place one on Craigslist and get 60 to 100 in one day. There’s been a tremendous shakeout in the industry. The challenge now is to hire new people, train them in our culture, and maintain those standards.

Market to Market We’re seeing stronger recovery in developed areas than in rural areas. Dealers in our secondary markets are still twiddling their thumbs looking for business, whereas dealers in areas such as northern Virginia, Richmond and Charlottesville, Va., and Raleigh, N.C., are busier.

Competitive Metrics I look at the order-entry report every day and check what our sales reps sold and how they’re progressing to meet their goals. It might sound tedious, but I like to see everything that’s being sold. I’m also heavily involved in our buying.

Ready To Grow Those of us who survived the recession are positioned to take full advantage of the coming recovery. Most of us were much larger and much more successful. But we already have an internal structure. We have the policies, the procedures, and the processes. We’re growing, [but] we’re not growing into new territory; it’s recovery, and that’s a horse of a different color.—As told to Hallie Busta