Ask Charlie Bradburn why he’s in the LBM industry and he’ll tell you that it’s because he enjoys how tactile and honest it is. “It’s about people,” he says, “but it’s also about expectations and accountability.” Over the 20 years that he has spent in the industry, Bradburn has learned a lot about LBM’s ups and downs. If there’s one thing that you need to thrive, he believes, it’s the ability to continually improve the way you do business. “You’ve got to get better tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day,” he says. “Get used to it.”
Bradburn, whose company is owned by US LBM, has watched as plenty of businesses with large parent companies consolidated smaller operations. “There is success in consolidating purchasing, payables, and back-office functions,” he says. “But if you take away the local feel in markets, if you take away decisions from those who are closest to customers, then you start to lose the benefits of consolidation.” To be successful, he feels that you need to be as flexible as a small, locally owned business is: “The company behind the salesperson has to be able to engage the market … instead of [selling] a square box of solutions.”
Feeling that the LBM industry is “way behind in the adaptation of technology,” Bradburn says that nowadays LBM companies need to get with the technological times. Adopting streamlining technologies, such as delivery-tracking software and detailed inventory and sales systems, he says, would help companies boost their bottom lines.