ProBuild, the nation's biggest full-service lumberyard, apparently has decided to take on 84 Lumber by building a new store in Morgantown, W.Va., less than 50 miles from 84's headquarters and within 25 miles of at least five of 84's branches.
According to a recent article in the Morgantown Dominion Post newspaper, footers are being put in now for a new 45,000-square-foot facility that is scheduled to be completed in June. Alerted to the story, a ProBuild spokeswoman said she was researching the story but, as of late Monday, had not returned any comments to ProSales.
The move into Morgantown sets up the LBM version of the "backyard brawl" football games between West Virginia University (WVU) and the nearby University of Pittsburgh. Only this one is more local. WVU and Pitt are located 75 miles apart. Once it moves in, ProBuild will be just 50 miles from 84's headquarters in Eighty Four, Pa., and no more than 25 miles away from five of 84's branches. Currently, ProBuild doesn't have a facility located within 100 miles of Morgantown and within 125 miles of 84's home
ProBuild's venture also bears noting because the company has rarely created an outlet from scratch in recent years and in fact closed more than 30 facilities last year. At least one independent dealer in Morgantonwn told ProSales last year that he had been contacted by ProBuild about selling his company.
Denver-based ProBuild topped last May's ProSales 100 list with $3.2 billion in sales, 87% of them to pros. But the company was pushed out of the top spot later last year when former No. 2 ABC Supply acquired former No. 4 Bradco Supply. (See .)
Meanwhile, 84 recorded $1.35 billion in sales in 2009. At the start of 2010 it had just over 300 locations and 4,000 employees, but since then it has closed roughly three dozen locations. 84 has steadily closed branches in recent years as the housing market shrank and financial challenges rose. On Feb. 14, it closed a deal that uses federal and private loans to pay off the final $40 million of a $195 million, 18% interest loan that has hobbled the LBM giant's operations.
There's a personal angle to this story as well: ProBuild president and CEO Bill Myrick spent 25 years at 84 Lumber, rising to the post of chief operating officer before leaving for ProBuild in 2007.