The Census Bureau’s twice-a-decade Economic Census is arguably one of the best sources around to get a snapshot of the LBM industry, but beware the top-line numbers on dealers.  The statistics include a large number of dealers that don't employ anyone. These Dealers In Name Only (DINOs) accounted for more than half of the dealers included in the census, but less than 2% of the total revenues.

Removing these DINOs from the statistics and gives a clearer picture of how dealers are actually doing. The number of dealers with employees fell 33.7% from 2007 to 2012, much more than the total number of closures at 20.1% suggests. And while the total number of closures is very different, total sales dipped nearly the same amount - 32% as opposed to 31.9% - whether the DINOs were included or not.

And while total revenue shrank, revenue per dealer remained consistent from 2007 to 2012. Dealers pulled in $5.69 million per dealer in 2007, and $5.83 million 2012. That's an increase of 2.6% per dealer.