Doug Carlson
Vice President of Sales and Operations

Drexel Building Supply, Campbellsport, Wis.

There’s a trend among most of the Four Under 40 members this year, and Doug Carlson was able to guess it immediately. All of this year’s candidates knew someone in the lumber industry who said, “Hey, I work for this great place, why not try it out?”

As vice president of sales and operations, Carlson sees a lot of the big picture issues at Drexel Building Supply, and one he’s working diligently on is recruitment. Despite each person we talked to professing their love for LBM, outsiders don’t immediately see the most attractive industry. Drexel hopes to change that by finding top talent through its large network of current workers.

“Everybody knows good people,” says Carlson. “When we post a position, we will pay a bonus for a referral. And we get a lot of internal candidates.” But reaching within its own network isn’t enough. Carlson strives to keep Drexel jobs in the minds of each applicant, even if the first job they’ve applied for isn’t a great fit. “We have a program called Drexel Insider,” he says. “Once you apply, you get put on an email list. Keep those people interested; they can reapply.” The goal of such an aggressive recruitment program is to find the most appropriate job for the candidate. While they might have initially applied for a sales position, their skills might more appropriately fit somewhere else in the firm. 

Finding candidates is one thing, but keeping them is another, and Carlson knew he wanted to stay in LBM at a time when many people wanted to bail. When asked when he knew LBM was a lifelong career, he recalled, “In the recovering of the economy. There was a lot of turmoil and unknowns. In other industries, I could have relocated, but I felt comfortable in what I knew. That was when I started talking to the owner. Now, I’m not only thankful for LBM, but also to work for a great company that gives back. In 2010, I realized this is my career path.”