Laurie Vance became president of the Lumber Association of California and Nevada (LACN) in October. She is co-owner and president of The Mill Yard, located in the heart of the Redwoods and bordering the Pacific Ocean. Vance began her career as a bookkeeper. With a strong knowledge of commercial banking, she purchased The Mill Yard with Tanka Chase in 2002. The dealer will move to a new, larger location this year.
Why Buy? Former owner Denny Hess recognized my business strengths. He approached Tanka and I, and we knew there was an incredible business marriage between us. In December 1998 my husband Floyd Mark passed away and I became the sole bread winner. (She has since married Chris Vance.) I was looking down the barrel of college for one of my daughters and I needed security.
A Tough Market This is a very rural community that is economically challenged. We used to survive on the timber and fishing industries. Different economic development bases are working hard to bring new types of industry in, but it's not easy.
Solid Surroundings The greatest advice that I can give is to surround yourself with the best people you can afford. You can't be good at everything. That's what I recognized as an entrepreneur's downfall–they try to do it all and they can't. I've also learned not to take anything for granted: The customers, the pricing, the employees, and my competitors.
Moving Date When we bought The Mill Yard, we immediately went out and found property, knowing our lease expires in 2010. Our goal all along was to move the yard and control our future and the future of our employees.
LACN Challenges We need to help dealers see the value they receive from the LACN and get them to understand that they are critical to what we do on their behalf. We are fighting for you whether you are a member of the association or not, or in another industry facing the same regulations.