Bridgewell Resources, in Tigard, Ore., is a huge company. It distributes a wide variety of products for an equally broad cross section of industries—food and agriculture, solar and renewable, utility and construction, and building materials, lots of building materials. Although 2013 represents its first year on the ProSales 100, the company’s contractor-direct division—the building materials arm of the company—posted total sales of $103 million last year. And those numbers are growing. Last year, total sales grew by 24%.
David Routt and Rob Beasley, vice presidents of sales and operation, run the operation from Tigard, with one thing in mind: supplying builders anywhere with anything they need to do a job. Instead of stocking a lumberyard with a range of materials that may or may not sell, Bridgewell fulfills custom orders for pros. “We’re supplying everything. You can only imagine all the parts and pieces that are requested throughout the process,” Routt says.
Once an order has been placed, the company buys directly from manufacturers and ships straight to the jobsite. Instead of trickled-in trailers full of lumber, Bridgewell might stock the majority of materials needed for a project right away. “If we have a million dollar project, our first delivery could be 50% of the project,” Routt says.
- Sales growth: 24%
- 2013 total sales: $103 million
- 2013 total sales per location: $651,898.73
- 2013 total sales per employee: $544,973
The model doesn’t work for everyone, especially for builders working on smaller, more nuanced jobs. And some builders unfamiliar with the idea are skeptical.
“Many new clients are not receptive to the way that we need to ship. ... The first apprehension they have is, ‘You’re in Oregon. How could you possibly give us service?’” Routt says.
To win over naysayers, Routt pitches it like this: “If you’re dealing with [a local dealer], he might have 30 clients and he only has so many vehicles. Some days he has to make a decision about who not to ship material to. [We] provide all of your lumber in one spot.”
For large jobs such as multifamily structures, delivering dedicated, customized orders can be the most efficient way to deliver materials.
“We’re buying rail cars at a time from the mill, railing it across the country to the nearest distribution point, then trucking it to the project. We don’t ... roll off a bobtail or pull a forklift off a semi and stock it to the second floor,” Routt says.
Despite the stellar sales pitch, there are still regions where builders just won’t embrace the method. Places with strong unions and Western states, such as California, remain resistant to Bridgewell’s business model. But in Texas and Florida, business has boomed during the past decade. “Fifteen years ago, we weren’t even east of the Mississippi ... [Now,] the South and the Southeast are some of our strongest markets,” Routt says.
Will Bridgewell Resources butt in on your business any time soon? Perhaps, but probably not for a while. “I think there’s still a need for local distribution,” Routt says. “Our goal is to be in every market.”