Leonard Safrit is the only person pictured on the cover of this month's issue, in which we honor Safrit’s Building Supply and its affiliates as ProSales’2013 Dealer of the Year. But in a recent e-mail to me as I worked on the profile of this remarkable man and company, Safrit mentioned something close to his heart that touched mine as well. It concerned Leonard’s uncle, Robert W. Safrit, and a time starting in 1975 when Leonard’s father died and Leonard joined with his uncle to launch Safrit’s.
“We were partners (more than relatives) until 1991, when he passed,” Leonard wrote of Uncle Robert. “His stern demeanor made him a great sounding board. I miss having a sounding board.”
Safrit isn’t alone. Bill Hayward sounded equally wistful when he said that one reason why Ganahl Lumber, our 2011 Dealer of the Year, was so good was because it was run by a pair of brothers with complementary strengths who could talk to and rely on each other. Hayward’s no slouch at running a lumberyard—he’s a Dealer of the Year as well—but at that moment, rather than our prize, I think what he really rather would have had was a brother in the business.
I’ve had my own bouts of loneliness these past 6-1/2 years as I struggled to simultaneously learn the magazine and the LBM business. But now that’s about to change. I’m pleased to introduce Mark A. Newman, who takes on the title of ProSales editor as a result of my promotion to a new position as editor-in-chief responsible for both ProSales and its sister magazine, Remodeling. Mark’s a native of south Alabama who has written for and edited award-winning magazines for close to a quarter century, most recently at Remodeling where he was a senior editor.
You can meet Mark face-to-face beginning with this month’s round of LBM events, and his editorial voice will start being heard in ProSales’ next issue. Meanwhile, I plan to keep up speaking and traveling to dealers across the country; I have just one more state to go—Alaska—before I will have been in all 50, and we’re developing new ways for me to report what I’m learning. My presence in the magazine will be less obvious but just as strong.
This issue also marks the arrival of two features we believe you’ll value. “Cloud 9” will feature advice and commentary from nine dealers and distributors on the cutting edge of LBM technology. And in “Executive Decisions,” you’ll get unvarnished, plain-spoken management advice from Don Magruder, the CEO of Ro-Mac Lumber in Florida and one of America’s most colorful dealers.
Journalism, like the LBM business, is a team sport. Individual talents are vital, but it’s the ability to share and debate ideas—particularly at the executive level, with people you respect and care about—that can help a venture become a champion. Leonard Safrit had that in his uncle, and later he found substitutes at his dealer roundtable. Now, with Mark here, ProSales can operate at the power of two.