Carter Lumber announced today that it was closing 26 locations mostly throughout the Midwest and eliminating about 30 full time positions. The move is part of an effort to close out of weaker performing markets and into stronger more growth oriented ones, company officials say.

The Kent, Ohio, lumberyard and manufacturer, which had sales of $808.4 million in 2012 and 170 locations, will shut yards in Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

In the past 18 months, Carter opened locations in Baltimore, Washington, Columbus, Ohio, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Chesapeake and Richmond, Va., Columbus, Ohio, Outer Banks, N.C.

President Jeff Donley says the move is part of a long-term strategy to  become “number one” in every market in which it operates.

“During the recent economic downturn, while many competitors were trying to survive, Carter Lumber transformed itself from a $500 million traditional lumberyard, into almost a $1 billion professional lumberyard,” Donley says.

To accomplish that, he said the company 81-year-old dealer “realigned field operations and expanded our footprint in the Midwest, Mid Atlantic and South regions of the country.”

With housing starts on the rise in the above mentioned markets, success is coming quickly for these new stores. “Sometimes, we make this business too complicated,” says Kip Gleckler senior vice president of field operations.

“Look at the markets, pick the best location and hire talented people to service the customer,” he says. “It’s that simple, it’s not like we’re saving lives, we’re just shipping lumber and we need to do it better than anyone else”.

The move consolidates stores in smaller markets and moves business to other company locations or pulled out of market entirely.

Effective Nov. 1, the following locations were closed:

  • Akron, Bucyrus, Kenton, Ashland, Celina, Reno, Clyde, Coshocton, Eaton (lumber and plumbing), Fredericktown, Hillsboro, Huntsville, Reno, and Van Wert (lumber and plumbing), Ohio;
  • Laurinburg, N.C.;
  • Bad Axe and Sturgis, Mich.;
  • New Castle, Rochester, Rockport, Shelbyville, and Warsaw, Ind.;
  • Mercer, Pa.; and
  • Elizabethtown, Ky.

Carter Lumber ranked 12th on the 2013 ProSales 100 with $808.4 million in sales of which 86% (or $695.2 million) were to pros. The company now operates 143 lumberyard and manufacturing facilities in 11 states (Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina).

(Note: This story was edited on Nov. 5 to remove quotes from an unnamed observer whose comments--particularly given his unidentified status--did not merit inclusion in the original story.)