Huttig Building Products, the St. Louis-based distributor and millwork specialists, announced today it recorded net income of $1.5 million in the first quarter, a big change from its virtual break-even status the year before.

Net sales grew 7.7% to $158.8 million, and the gross margin in the January-to-March period climbed to 20.2% from 19.3% in 2015's first quarter. "The increase in gross margin percentage was primarily due to our operational initiatives as well as improved product mix as we continue to expand our value-add capabilities to service the repair/remodel construction segment," the company said in a statement.

The company prefers to measure itself using adjusted EBITDA--earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization, discontinued operations, and stock compensation expenses. By that metric, adjusted EBITDA grew to $4.2 million from a year-earlier $1.7 million.

Millwork sales drove the revenue growth, climbied 12% to $80.2 million, and building product sales increased 6% to $62.2 million. In contrast, wood product sales fell by 2% to $16.4 million.

These results exclude the benefits that Huttig expects to reap from its acquisition of BenBilt Building Systems. That deal was completed on April 4, so BenBilt's contribution will begin appearing in the second-quarter results.

Huttig runs 27 distribution centers serving 41 states.