Yellowstone National Park got a record 3.3 million visitors last year, and the most popular way to enter was through West Yellowstone, Mont., on a road that's just a few blocks from Greg Forsythe's Westmart Do it Center. In the summer, the city's 70 restaurants and 60-plus motels are crowded. But when winter sets in, most of those places close and the town changes dramatically. Forsythe has had to learn how to adapt to the seasons.
Only Game in Town We are so remote we are the only business like this within an 80-mile radius of town. Eighty percent of our business during the year is within a six-month period. The closest Lowe's and Home Depot are at least 90 miles away. But we are capable of handling business for a $23 million project, which was recently completed, to small houses and remodel jobs.
Welcome, Visitors A dollar here, a dollar there, from motels to restaurants, most of our economy is tourism. If the town makes money, they are going to spend it. If the tourism doesn't come, people don't make money and we don't make money.
Short Notice For most of our larger housing and commercial business, you don't know about a project until it's going to start. Guys complete jobs in the winter and we don't know what's coming up for the next year until the jobs begin. The ground doesn't start to thaw until May.
Accounts Receivables We don't have any cash flow in the winter. We work on credit. You have to make it up in the summer.
Inventory Control We have to make sure we can service everyone. People depend on us tremendously for everything they need for a project, from electrical to plumbing fixtures. One of our biggest challenges is getting that material for them at a good price. Most of our materials arrive in June and July and we run our inventory down to 60% [of summer levels] in the winter months. It's not a constant inventory by any means.
Measuring Success Success at my store is if my employees are happy and having a little bit of fun at what they are doing while we are keeping our heads above water. We went from a 1,500-square-foot store to a 10,000-square-foot location. We are successful and we've been able to keep our customers. I'm at the age that I can say I'm successful.