The ProSales 100 is as much a collection of individual stories as it is a tale of an entire industry. Here’s a look at one of six members of the club who all merit special attention, and all for vastly different reasons.

“The marketplace is getting better and our expansion is kicking into gear,” says Gary Powell, president of Woodinville, Wash.-based Matheus Lumber. The company’s expansion wasn’t just a matter of opening a local store or two. It also involved acquiring a commercial sales division of a former Top 15 ProSales 100 member and opening up facilities in San Marcos, Texas, in 2009 and Chandler, Ariz., in 2010.

Unlike other ProSales 100 members, Matheus focuses on multifamily and commercial work, getting roughly 60% of its sales from the former group and another 30% from the latter. Matheus, again No. 39 on this year’s survey, saw total sales rise 15% in 2011 to reach $86 million. All but 1% of that revenue was to pros.

Percentage of Matheus' business from multifamily builders.
brian walker Percentage of Matheus' business from multifamily builders.

Powell says revenue this year should increase by about the same percentage. “The first three months have gone extraordinarily well,” he says. That’s quite a rebound from the recent low point of $61 million in sales incurred in 2009, but still way below the $109 million in sales it racked up in 2007.

Part of that improvement over the past three years can be attributed to the new locations that serve the hot Phoenix and Austin, Texas, markets. The company was enticed by the potential of both markets. Powell says markets in both Texas and Seattle, the company’s home market, are doing well.

“Customers dictate what they want,” says Powell. “Each market is a little different.”

The Texas office is formerly the commercial sales division of Bison Building Materials, which reorganized under bankruptcy and eventually was acquired by Stock Building Supply (No. 9 this year). Matheus in turn got the commercial section.

“Matheus Lumber wanted a presence in Texas and the market looked very attractive,” says Powell. “The sales staff fit very well for Matheus’ business model.”

Matheus Lumber’s heavy involvement in the multifamily sector appears to set it up well for the future. The National Association of Home Builders forecasts 216,000 multifamily starts for 2012, a 22% increase over 2011, and then 9% more growth to 235,000 starts in 2013.

Only one other company on this year’s survey received as big a share of its sales from the multifamily sector as Matheus. In fact, only five other companies got even 30% of their sales from multifamily builders. And in the commercial segment, only one company received a larger share of sales.

The company also has an international export unit that accounts for 5% of sales. Most of the shipments go to Asia, Powell says.

When it comes to managing geographically separated markets, Powell says the key is to hire the right people and have strong organizational skills. “It takes a team effort,” he says.