In the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association's (NLBMDA) dealer toolbox is a human resources video called Our People Are the Difference. Moderated by Kevin Hancock, president of Hancock Lumber Co. in Casco, Maine, and immediate past chair of NLBMDA, this HR training tool identifies three simple processes a dealer can use to build a loyal and motivated group of people:

  • Create a corporate culture that promotes and reinforces the values you want your company to represent.
  • Institutionalize a training program that emphasizes the skills your people must possess to ensure your company's success and growth.
  • Teach the concept of profit to all staff. Open and share appropriate financial information and motivate and reward staff by sharing profit when it is earned.

Since the introduction of the Our People Are the Difference video, NLBMDA has created the Excellence in Human Resources Award, which recognizes industry organizations that have created a corporate culture that develops outstanding people and sets a national standard in our industry. The award is aimed at raising the profile of companies that are committed to overall human resources achievements, achievements that encourage and reward innovative business processes, best practices, and companies' commitment to their employees.

Gordon Studer

Just submitting an awards application creates a valuable resource of information for applicants, providing them with immediate evidence they can use in a variety of work analysis and manager-to-employee conversations. For the winners, these awards provide an opportunity to be recognized by their peers for their achievements in building excellent company cultures. Last month, PROSALES featured our 2006 award winners—Beyers Lumber Co. in St. Louis and Niehaus Cos. in Vincennes, Ind.

Each year I personally look forward to reading the submissions and gleaning information and ideas. This year was no exception. On many entry forms the overriding theme was employee integrity, teamwork, and community spirit.

Dealers' employees are a reflection of the business owner's mission, values, and work ethic. A perfect example of perseverance and commitment during good and bad times is reflected in a story told by Bernie Niehaus, CEO of Niehaus Cos. In 1944, when Bernie was 7 and his sister Sondra was 6, his father, Francis (co-founder of Niehaus Cos.), passed away at the age of 36 from tuberculosis. Bernie's mother, Naomi, took over the reins of the company and directed the business until 1959, when Bernie graduated from Michigan State University. The business flourished because of Naomi Niehaus' determination and the efforts of her employees. She accomplished this under difficult circumstances while raising two small children. It goes without saying that her dedication and commitment to her family and the lumber business were shining examples to her employees, her customers, and the Vincennes community.

This industry has countless stories of companies demonstrating their passion to grow and of employees who are empowered to excel in their positions. In the future, be sure to share with us stories of your commitment to your employees' growth and success. At NLBMDA, we'd love to recognize your company and your stories of excellence in human resources. —Shawn Conrad is president of NLBMDA.