Some of the most significant statistics in this year’s ProSales 100 report involve sales per employee, because higher sales numbers per worker should lead to higher profits. (Click here to register and download the 2018 list.)

The PS100’s average sales per employee grew 7.3% in 2017, to reach a record $513,963. To put that achievement in context, go back to what the ProSales 100 did in 2006, just before the peak of the housing boom. Those PS100 companies generated $44.95 billion in revenue with a total of 126,477 workers. That works out to $347,463 per worker. Adjust that number for inflation and you come up with PS100 companies getting the equivalent of $424,470. And that was at a time when dealers have said they’ve never been busier.

By contrast, the per-worker sales average in 2017 was 21% better. How? Because dealers today are generating more revenue more efficiently than ever before.

One would think that the dealers who specialize in brokering lumber sales—firms like Shelter Products, Matheus Lumber, Bridgewell Resources, and Idaho Pacific—would gain the most. All four of them do rank way above other PS100 members on a per-employee basis, ranging from $3.2 million for Shelter to $1.6 million for IdaPac. But if you examine the percentage increase in sales per worker between 2016 and 2017, other dealers move to the top.

For instance, Big Creek Lumber boosted sales by 24% even as its year-end employee counts dropped to 103 from 112. That produced a 35% year-over-year gain in sales per worker. The story is similar at Foxworth-Galbraith, where sales rose 28% but the number of employees dropped to 950 from 1,000. That also yielded a 35% year-over-year efficiency gain. At Bailey Lumber & Supply, the employee count fell by 13% but sales went up 7.1%, so per-employee sales grew by 24%. And Sims-Lohman went from 470 to 424 employees while pushing sales 8% higher. That produced a 20% gain in sales per worker.

Sometimes those gains weren’t intentional. Big Creek says it would have hired more people if it could, but its market just over the hills from Silicon Valley is desperately short of good workers. Here's the table of top 20 firms:

Top 20 Gains in Sales per Employee, 2017 vs. 2016

2017 total sales ($ millions) 2016 total sales ($ millions) Total number of employees at year-end Sales per employee ($ thousands) % Change in sales per worker
PS100 rank 2017 2016 2017 2016
89 Building Component Supply, Jacksonville, FL $53.9 $26.3 187 124 $288.4 $212.4 35.8%
84 Big Creek Lumber, Davenport, CA $67.0 $54.0 103 112 $650.5 $482.1 34.9%
17 Foxworth-Galbraith Lumber, Plano, TX $409.2 $319.2 950 1,000 $430.7 $319.2 34.9%
10 Foundation Building Materials, Tustin, CA $1,827.4 $1,305.5 3,330 3,150 $548.8 $414.4 32.4%
82 NorCal Lumber, Marysville, CA $59.4 $41.9 275 255 $216.1 $164.3 31.5%
76 Tindell's Building Materials, Knoxville, TN $64.0 $45.6 211 197 $303.2 $231.4 31.0%
48 Consolidated Lumber, Stillwater, MN $151.4 $111.2 275 261 $550.5 $426.0 29.2%
87 Bailey Lumber & Supply, Gulfport, MS $55.5 $51.8 225 260 $246.5 $199.1 23.8%
42 Sims-Lohman, Cincinnati, OH $135.0 $125.1 424 470 $318.5 $266.2 19.6%
86 Timberland Lumber, Brazil, IN $57.9 $45.0 140 130 $413.4 $346.2 19.4%
1 ABC Supply, Beloit, WI $9,329.0 $7,172.0 13,269 12,144 $703.1 $590.6 19.0%
90 Zuern Building Products, Allenton, WI $63.0 $54.0 130 130 $484.6 $415.4 16.7%
67 Gutherie Lumber, Livonia, MI $70.8 $57.3 90 83 $786.7 $690.5 13.9%
70 The Lester Group, Martinsville, VA $69.3 $63.2 134 139 $517.4 $454.6 13.8%
93 Yoder's Building Supply, Fair Play, SC $51.4 $43.3 112 107 $459.2 $404.5 13.5%
91 Ashby Lumber, Concord, CA $83.9 $68.0 171 157 $490.6 $433.1 13.3%
43 Scherer Bros. Lumber, Minneapolis, MN $147.1 $129.5 279 276 $527.4 $469.2 12.4%
85 Garris Evans Lumber, Greenville, NC $61.7 $51.4 125 117 $493.4 $439.7 12.2%
68 Cassity Jones Lumber, Longview, TX $71.4 $61.6 145 140 $492.7 $440.1 12.0%
47 McCray Lumber & Millwork, Overland Park, KS $134.0 $118.0 224 219 $598.2 $538.8 11.0%