Smith Phillips has been in continuous operation since 1880, so we have a pretty extensive history in the Winston-Salem area. We are primarily a pro-oriented yard that deals with professional builders, contractors, and remodelers, while also doing some light commercial [work]. Our team has its own door shop and an industrial cut-to-size shop.
Family Ties: I’ve been here since 1999—I married into the business. My father-in-law [Micky Boles] was planning his exit strategy when he talked to me about coming onboard as a manager. At the time, I was active duty in the military and we were moving around a lot. My wife wasn’t from a military background and therefore not used to the rootless lifestyle, so it worked out that my father-in-law was looking for someone to come in and help with the business.
Jack of All Trades: Starting out, my official title was just a general manager in training. I worked in all areas of the business, and I still do. We have a small company so you still need to be a jack of all trades. I go out on deliveries on occasion, I work at the front counter, and I take sales calls. Today, a lot of small companies are in our same situation: People have to be willing to pick up the ball and run with it.
Value Proposition: I’ve been active with the NLBMDA since 2004 and the Southern Building Material Dealers Association since 1999. They’re good places to gather ideas from other dealers across the United States. You can learn a lot of things from your fellow dealers.
We’re all very tied to our local communities and it’s easy for us to lose sight of what’s going on at the national level. So while we all need to focus on our neighborhood, we also need to step back and look at the bigger picture. —As told to Steve Campbell.