ProBuild changes name, still the go-to lumberyard

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Cabinetry on display in the showroom at Builders FirstSource in Evergreen on July 10. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

In some industries, corporate sales and mergers mean big changes for customers all the way down to the local level. Not so for Builders FirstSource in Evergreen, which was previously ProBuild Holdings LLC and, before that, Stock Lumber.

The company has been supplying Flathead Valley construction firms with building materials under several business names since the mid-1970s, said General Manager Blake Maynard. Many of the employees have gone through the transitions and have been working in the store for decades.

“A lot of these guys have been around for 20-plus years,” Maynard said.

The company now known as Builders FirstSource, located at 35 W. Reserve Drive, just changed its name from ProBuild. The name change is a belated acknowledgement of a corporate purchase, since the Dallas, Texas-based corporate parent company Builders FirstSource acquired the Evergreen ProBuild store from the larger Denver-based ProBuild parent company in 2015.

ProBuild previously had purchased the store from Stock Lumber in 2006, which purchased it from Salt Lake City-based Anderson Lumber before that. Anderson Lumber had purchased the original, locally owned Tri-City Lumber in 1999.

Longtime Evergreen businessman Brent Hall, who died last year, started Tri-City Lumber in 1976 with John Hammett and a third business partner, Cecil Noble, whom Hall and Hammett bought out in 1981. When Tri-City Lumber was sold to Anderson Lumber Co., a longtime Salt Lake City firm, in 1999, Hall stayed on as general manager, retaining local employees. He did the same when Stock Lumber bought out Anderson Lumber.

When Stock Lumber was pegged to close its Evergreen store, Hall struck a deal with ProBuild to reopen the local business, and once again retained all local employees. Hall had been general manager of ProBuild in Evergreen since that affiliation, managing and overseeing activities of the entire operation.

Maynard, who worked for a different business that ProBuild acquired in 2006 and joined the Evergreen store in 2017, said through every transition they have been successful by knowing the niche they fill in the community and making sure they don’t lose sight of that.

In this case, that niche is specifically in supplying lumber. They sell other things, but Maynard said the most important key to its success was a long history as the go-to lumberyard for many construction firms in the valley.

“I think historically this store has been known as the true lumber yard,” Maynard said. This is where you go to buy your lumber.”

Maynard said that Builders FirstSource is a great company to be a part of because they also specialize in lumber.

“[Builders FirstSource] is run by lumber people,” Maynard said. “It is managed by people that worked in the industry and understand the business.”

He said the ProBuild corporate owners gave them good support and saw them through the hard years of the recession, but ultimately it was an investment for the company and it is good to now be owned by an industry expert.

Along with the name change come some other changes to the way the company operates locally, though most are cosmetic and won’t impact the customer in a significant way, Maynard said.

First, they are getting all new signs on the front of their office building, showroom and warehouse and also on all of their trucks. They have five delivery trucks and four pickups used for sales and other duties that are getting new Builders FirstSource decals to replace the old ProBuild ones. They have also gotten new business cards.

The business also is making some internal changes, such as which systems they use to operate the business on their computers, but those should have no impact on local customers. He said they put a big priority on making sure the transition was an easy one on their loyal clientele.

The best illustration of this is probably the results of a phone survey the company performed in June. Maynard said they called a sizable sample of their customers and asked them if they had had any difficulties since the corporate merger in 2015. Many of them, he said, didn’t even know any change had happened at all.

“On their side, very little had changed to the point that they didn’t even realize it,” Maynard said. “We were already a big company. ProBuild was a big company.”

He also said the variety of products the business stocks across the board really hasn’t changed much from owner to owner, and through each transition they’ve work to maintain a local focus on what their clients in the Flathead Valley need most.

About 85 percent of those customers are professional builders, he said, and their sales closely follow the success of the local building industry. It can be a tumultuous field, and with every boom as big as the one the valley is currently in comes a wariness of what lies over the crest of the hill.

“We know we’re in a bubble that hopefully won’t burst, but will level out,” Maynard said. “These days right now are good and we try not to take it for granted.”

Builders FirstSource is based in Dallas, operates stores in 40 states and has around 15,000 employees that sold about $7 billion worth of goods in 2017, according to a company press release. More information about the local store can be found at https://www.bldr.com/locations/kalispell-lumber/.

Reporter Peregrine Frissell can be reached at (406) 758-4438 or pfrissell@dailyinterlake.com.

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