Chandler McCray
Ben Weddle Chandler McCray

Chandler McCray is used to preparing for rough weather, given the tornadoes that roll through the Midwest. But during this housing slump, McCray isn't burying his head. His company expanded this spring by purchasing Whelan's Lumber, taking McCray Lumber into the Topeka and Lawrence, Kan., markets, and adding 60 employees and three facilities. "When things improve, we want to be in a position to capitalize," he says. The 46-year-old Chandler grew up in this family business but spent much of the 1990s on the sales side, building relationships on which he still relies. Here's how he keeps his bearings:

  • Watch Rebar Sales. "95% of the time, if we ship the footing load, we'll ship the house, too. " 

  • Phone Customers. "There's a few that I keep track of specifically, certainly to check in with once a quarter or more. I also have some suppliers that supply builders that I talk to maybe once a month. "If they trust you, you'll get the real facts and not a general overview." 

  • Periodic Tables. "We check daily sales totals by location, the daily deposits and some cash balances. [Once a month] we have a report that will list all the salesmen, how they're doing month to date and year to date, and gross profits. " 

  • Keep Pursuing Write-Offs. "I get a summary of aging and what was written off that we were able to collect."