The Lester Group board of directors elected Jay Dickens as the company’s new president and CEO, replacing the retiring Jim O’Brien. O’Brien joined The Lester Group in 2010 and will serve as the cochair of the board of directors moving forward.

Dickens joined The Lester Group in 2018 as president with 37 years of building products experience. Prior to joining The Lester Group, Dickens served as vice president of American Direct, a provider of architectural doors, hardware, and integrated security solutions. The newly elected CEO and president also previously held executive positions with Rugby Building Products and Huttig Building Products.

Dickens said despite the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, employment at The Lester Group will continue to grow and its projected to exceed 200 employees by the end of May.

“We will continue to invest in people, ideas, and technology that help us serve our customers better, improve the quality of the work experience of employees, and strengthen the communities we serve,” Dickens said in a news release.

The Lester Group plans to open a fifth retail store in Christiansburg, Va., in May.

“As an ‘essential’ business in the current economic climate caused by the coronavirus, The Lester Group has a positive outlook for continued growth,” Dickens said. “Our goal is to expand the company’s capacity to continue to increase sales profitably. We are in a strong growth position because we have a unique culture, are nimble, and can take advantage of opportunities quickly.”

Martinsville, Va.-based The Lester Group’s core business is building materials, retail stores, and manufacturing treated lumber and commercial and residential doors. The company has more than 18,000 acres of forest lands in Virginia and North Carolina and has a real estate division which develops residential communities, shopping centers, office buildings, and restaurants. The company ranked 73rd on the 2019 ProSales 100 list.