The chief executive officer of [http://www.probuild.com] ProBuild told ProSales on Tuesday that America's No. 1 LBM company has shrunk roughly 10% in employees and facilities in the past year, but the company is sticking with its strategy of growing, consolidating and gaining market share. Paul Hylbert also said one of ProBuild's key initiatives-putting the entire company on a sophisticated and powerful new computer system-will begin to be implemented soon.
Hylbert said ProBuild now has 503 facilities, including several acquired in the past year. That's down from the 563 it reported to the 2008 ProSales 100. Those acquisitions also brought roughly a thousand more workers into ProBuild to go with the 15,000 on the payroll as of the start of 2008, but since then the head count has shrunk to roughly 13,000, Hylbert said.
He said ProBuild serves 80 of the country's biggest markets, but the only two it has entered in the past year were Las Vegas and Phoenix. He didn't give an expected revenue figure for 2008; it posted sales of $5 billion in 2007.
"We're trying to reallocate assets and rightsize the company," Hylbert said from ProBuild's booth at the International Builders' Show in Las Vegas. He said that when he talks to ProBuild workers nationwide, he stresses that "The long term is bright, and we're going to fight through. We're going to take advantage of opportunities that come up. Our strategy is to keep growing, consolidating, gaining share."
One example of ProBuild's simultaneous shrinking and growing came when the company [http://www.prosalesmagazine.com/industry-news.asp?sectionID=0&articleID=812901] announced in December that it would close three facilities in South Florida but noted that two of those operations were made unnecessary as a result of acquisitions over the previous 12 months. Hylbert also said Tuesday that ProBuild has gone to 32-hour work weeks at some locations.
Meanwhile, efforts continue at the Denver headquarters to move the entire company to an Oracle computer system. The ProBuild East operations should be entirely on the system in about six months, while ProBuild South while begin embracing the system this fall, Hylbert said. By the end of 2010, all parts of ProBuild should be on board.
Hylbert said the new Oracle system was designed to give the company unprecedented insights into ProBuild's customer base. For instance, at present the company can identify its customers by type-production builder, custom builder, etc.-but it can't serve up more detailed information on what type of work those production builders do, such as what kind of homes it builds.
Meanwhile, the company has nearly finished changing all store names to the ProBuild brand; the only groups where the ProBuild logo won't predominate will be in Alaska, where Spenard Building Supply is a local retail institution; and southern California, where Dixieline Lumber and Home Centers will keep using that name.
Hylbert also provided a reminder that ProBuild remains a young company-it was formed just three years ago-when he noted that the company didn't have a unified e-mail system until recently.
Boston's Devonshire Investors formed ProBuild in 2006 when it combined the Strober Organization, which it had owned for several years, with its acquisitions of Lanoga, Hope Lumber and Supply and other companies. (See ProSales' [http://www.prosalesmagazine.com/content/deals/Deals.asp?sectionID=1895] deals database.) Since then, Hylbert has strived to take advantage of the organization's national reach while retaining an operation that's nimble locally.
"Maybe we've redefined centralization as standardization," he said. For instance, ProBuild is seeking to learn which area has found the best way to age receivables. In a corporate rollup such as ProBuild's, "you're buying good companies because they do good things well," he said. "So you have to be comfortable that you don't break it."