A West Coast LBM dealer that sold three stores to Stock Building Supply in 2006 and then saw Stock close all three has bought back one of the locations and reopened it under its old name.
Home Lumber Co. reopened its Bishop, Calif., location on Aug. 17. That site, along with yards in San Bernardino, Calif., and Yerington, Nev., were sold to Stock in April 2006. But Stock closed the San Bernardino and Yerington operations in November 2008 as it struggled to get through the housing crisis. After Stock entered Chapter 11 in May, it closed the Bishop yard.
Home Lumber's Brent Johnson, who reopened the Bishop location, told ProSales in an interview today that he first expressed interest in buying back the Bishop yard when he began to hear rumors last spring of a potential closure. "The people that work at the store, and still continue to work at the store, are all just good, knowledgeable people and Stock was just going to shut it down," Johnson said.
With really only one competitor in town, the Bishop store serves higher-end custom home and condo builders. Known for its skiing, the Bishop market attracts second-home buyers and ski enthusiasts to the Sierra Nevada from Southern California and the Bay area.
"With the sales that little store can make from custom homes and the higher-end market, it made sense to buy it back," Johnson said.
Johnson had somewhat of an inside edge on knowing what Stock was doing since he had signed a three-year agreement in 2006 to remain as location manager at the San Bernardino yard even after selling out to Stock. Once that location was shuttered, Johnson continued to work for the company until this past April.
While Stock purchased the businesses three years ago, the Johnson family still owns the properties in San Bernardino and Yerington. The Bishop site's property is owned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Home Lumber secured a lease agreement with the authority while completing the Stock deal.
"The other two locations, through Stock's bankruptcy agreement, have come back to our family," Johnson said. As part of its bankruptcy reorganization under Chapter 11 earlier this summer, Stock was able to cancel lease agreements at dozens of its locations.
The past two months have seen a string of former owners buy back locations they sold to Stock and re-open the yards under their former banners. (See related stories.)
Johnson said the market is too tough to re-open the other two locations, particularly in Nevada where "housing volume has just gone down." In San Bernardino, Johnson says there's too much competition to deal with in such a tough economic climate.
The Johnson family has been in the business since opening their first location in 1947. "It's in our blood to get back in the game," Johnson said.