Brandon Kujawski is no stranger to the building industry. He worked on a framing crew during high school summers, worked in real estate after college, and used to be a custom home builder in Ohio. When the market dropped in 2006, Kujawski lost his custom home business and took a job as a driver at Carter Lumber’s Toledo, Ohio, location. About a month later, he became an installed sales manager.
After working for Carter for seven years, he was given another opportunity in August 2013: Revamp the company’s presence in the Southeast.
“Carter is a privately owned company in Ohio, where most of our locations were [at that time],” Kujawski says. “The further South you got, the more disconnected you got from the company.”
In addition to distance, the Carter Lumber locations in the South primarily served the DIY customer. The company wanted to reposition itself in the market as a pro dealer. Accepting the challenge, Kujawski moved from Ohio to Charlotte, N.C., to work on the revamp as district sales manager. A few months later, he was promoted to vice president.
Today, the company has six locations, 250 employees, and an estimated $100M gross, whereas in 2013, there were three locations, 25 employees, and an estimated $13M gross.
“Really, all the growth is attributed to the people,” Kujawksi says. “That’s the strength of any LBM. The main portion of the growth and success we’ve seen in terms of growing revenue line is hiring the right people.”
Hiring the right people starts with attracting them to your business, which is why Kujawski strives for Carter to be an “employer of choice.” He admits that ultimately, Carter and its competitors are selling the same products and buying from the same distributors, but there’s one thing that can make a big difference.
“The real difference in the way that we bring value to customers is through our people,” he says. “We provide the kind of culture that people enjoy coming to work. We do that by design because we feel, and what our history shows, is that when you bring those people in that do care about the customer, you have a better customer relationship and profitability can grow.”