It's nothing special to hear people in Anadarko, Okla., use words from the Kiowa and Caddo Indian languages. Here in the self-proclaimed Indian Capital of the Nation, located 70 miles southwest of Oklahoma City, whites and Indians contribute roughly equal numbers to the town's 6,600 population. Gary Smith is married to a Caddo. His father bought the facility in 1979 and ran it until he died five years ago, when Gary and brother Larry took over what is now a $2 million operation. Now Smith & Sons includes an agriculture co-op as well as an all-purpose building center.
Profit Sources. About 40% hardware; the rest is building materials, roofing, insulation, and wood. We're working on a 5,000-square-foot expansion that would make it 10,000. We were in a 1,000- square-foot building five years ago and we've jumped up. It's been good. Home Depot and Lowe's are 45 miles away.
Keeping Track. The main thing I do is make sure everybody's paying me. I watch my [accounts receivable] closely. Usually after 30 days I go out to them. When it's at 90 days, I start making a move. A lot of times you won't see the people who owe you, even if it's a small town.
Pricing Power. Whoever you're buying it from, you need to tweak your margins. On power tools, sometimes you can get a good margin, sometimes you can't. DeWalt and stuff, they keep me competitive. There's going to be somebody who tries to [slash prices], but a lot of stuff has a base price, and vendors have been real good [enforcing] that.
Dealing With Indians. You learn a little Kiowa and Caddo. They're just like everybody else, always remodeling stuff. If a person has a problem with a toilet, it doesn't matter what color they are.