Learning Lessons from an “Old Soul”

December 29, 2015

I’ve met a lot of sharp men and women over the years. A few along the way became “Mentors.” By learning to “Listen well” and ask many questions, I feel I continue to be an ever-changing and hopefully better Individual. Many “lessons” were “One Liners”…Ones such as what I learned from John Drum of Wickes…”Folks, you have to learn to clean as you go!” Or, “You can only expect what you Inspect!” Many, many of these “lessons” I learned over the years….

                                                                                                                                                                                          

 
 

Keeping It Right, the Second Time Around

December 14, 2015

We’ve all talked about how tough it was to survive “The Great Recession”… (Still don’t think there was anything great about it!!) Anyway, we’re here. Sales are growing back…That elusive word “profit” has returned, and so on. Life is pretty good. So what about all those lessons we learned on the way down? The ones that frankly allowed us to survive?  What I’m talking about now is how easy it can be to fall back into old bad habits….

                                                                                                                                                                                          

 
 

One-Liners That Have Stood the Test of Time

November 30, 2015

  • When hiring, always look for People with “People Competency”
  • Don’t play “catch-up”…”CLEAN AS YOU GO!”
  • You’re a very tough Manger/Leader, but always think, “Who will bring you Ice Water?”
  • The Purpose of “Planning” is not to “Plan,” “The purpose of Planning is….

                                                                                                                                                                                          

 
 

Never Say Never

November 9, 2015

During the slipping and sliding through the so-called “Great Recession,” lots of lessons were learned. Many builders simply didn’t make it–the well simply ran dry and they had no resources to back them up to “survive.” There were exceptions though. We had some local builders that actually kept a fair amount of homes under construction. Several of them, knowing they were now solidly “in the driver’s seat,” changed their Modus Operandi….

                                                                                                                                                                                          

 
 

Five Years Without a Banking Relationship

October 15, 2015

It seems a bit like the distant past now, but the “scars” from “The Great Recession” run deep. Up until the recession, we had (or thought we had!) a great banking relationship. We always paid our mortgage payments each month, kept up with our line of credit, etc., etc.  We never, ever got behind on anything…And the bottom fell out. As one of our Directors sagely said, “We were chasing the bottom for a long time.” We’d go through a lay-off, and two months later repeat it all over again….

                                                                                                                                                                                          

 
 

Playing by the Golden Rule

September 28, 2015

You survive or die by your real life experiences…when things happen that are out of your control, you either let these experiences get the best of you, or you “learn fast,” adapt, survive and move on ever stronger. I’ll never forget how that lesson came up for Kimal when….

                                                                                                                                                                                          

 
 

Cycles…and the New “Normal”

September 8, 2015

One of the “talents” that I’ve been told I am fairly good at, is being able to look into the future and “read the tea leaves” as to what lies ahead. I’m not talking about it this newsletter, but new products, technology, systems, etc. that are going to hit down the road—well, they are just awesome. So the future, over-all, is bright and we’re going through some of the most amazing transformations that I’ve seen in my lifetime….

                                                                                                                                                                                          

 
 

Old School Ain’t Bad

August 24, 2015

No one will deny that the world is changing rapidly. Doesn’t seem all that long ago when we started using “Fax” machines. Imagine! Sending an “image” of a Purchase Order thousands of miles to be perfectly duplicated… Quickly replaced with PDF files and the like. And Analog was going to be the next best thing…but going Digital suddenly replaced that.  Now I look at the latest version of “Smart” phone that I have, an Apple iPhone 6 Plus. More horsepower than was going on in the “Computer Room” at Wickes forty some years ago….

                                                                                                                                                                                          

 
 

Rules and Ideas that Stand the Test of Time

August 11, 2015

I thought it would be a neat idea to kind of “break stride” in these articles and mention “One-Liners” and strategies that have stood the test of time. Many were developed “Kimal Specific” and some are what I and others have learned on life’s highway…So, here goes:

  • “Verbal Doesn’t Get It…Write It Down.” Pretty obvious. When you’re passing around vital, specific information, document it well. Very well. Just saying, “I told you such-and-so” doesn’t work anymore.
  • “Clean as You Go.” Part of our “religion” here at Kimal. We try to never leave a mess to clean it up later. Always deal with messes and clean up now!

                                                                                                                                                                                          

 
 

Friends and Partners, Until….

July 29, 2015

Surviving “The Great Recession” was one of the toughest things I’ve ever gone through. And I’m sure all of you who are “back on the other side” feel the same way. Through our very “creative ability” based on being entrepreneurial “Lumber Folks,” we pulled out all the stops and did it. And although we witnessed the demise of quite a few of our contractor customers, there were those that did make it through….

                                                                                                                                                                                          

 
 

“Cheep”…On a Branch

July 15, 2015

Many years ago, I was participating in a “negotiation” with a fairly large contractor. His theme was becoming quite clear…In almost these exact words, he asked, “How cheap will you be willing to go to get my business?” In frustration, more than anything, my partner in this dialog blurted out, “Hey! We’re already there…my feet don’t fit a branch.” Translated, a bird will sit on a branch, singing “Cheep, Cheep”….

                                                                                                                                                                                          

 
 

Continuation of “Humble”

July 1, 2015

They called it “The Great Recession”…really for about six years, starting with “falling off a cliff.” Then as one of our Directors famously said…”We chased the bottom”…for a long time!! In our case, I believe we went through eight structured lay-offs before we found that “Bottom.” As I mentioned before, we set a goal of “Selling Our Way Out of the Recession”….

                                                                                                                                                                                          

 
 

“Our Fragmented Industry”

June 10, 2015

I don’t think anyone would deny that as independent lumberyard owners/managers/operators, we are among the most creative, unique, and entrepreneurial bunch of folks in business in the country. And I’m not talking about this as a “Guy” business. Some of the most creative owners are women. If you were to have an opportunity to travel around the country and visit one hundred independent lumberyards, you’d come away from it with….

                                                                                                                                                                                          

 
 

“You Can’t Innovate Yesterday”

May 26, 2015

It always amazes me just how “20-20” hindsight can be. With absolute dead accuracy, you can go back two months, two years, whatever, and see what actually happened. O.K., I know I’m describing “the obvious and already known.” Too often in our Industry, I see folks “go back,” look at historical (may I say, hysterical at times!) data, see an interesting snapshot in time and then try….

                                                                                                                                                                                          

 
 

The Power of the “Spoken” Word and the “Written” Word

May 7, 2015

We run departments, company divisions, or whole companies. We’ve gotten pretty good at it. We get spreadsheets and know how to read them. We have metrics in place that tell us to the penny what’s going on. We begin the year with budgets that we feel are realistic, and then move forward during the year to guide them to fruition. All of this I describe as the “Two-Dimensional” world. (No one can argue that 2+2 equals 4 on a spreadsheet.) But we also continually operate in the “Organic” Three Dimensional world….

                                                                                                                                                                                          

 
 

Don’t Allow Your Company to Become “In-Bred”

April 29, 2015

When our younger son, Tony, completed his fellowship at “Cleveland Clinic” in heart medicine, he was offered a very generous package to continue on in Cleveland. He fairly quickly declined. He had started at Gainesville (University of Florida) and ultimately had set his sights to wind up back there. But he had done so well at Cleveland, I was curious as to why he would leave such a tremendous organization, and opportunity. His answer surprised me. He replied….

                                                                                                                                                                                          

 
 

People…Our Most Important Asset

April 15, 2015

This is a subject I would like to re-visit frequently. We can sit here in our operations, with new trucks, truss equipment, new “state-of-the-art” infrastructure with all the trappings–but it still comes down to one element that puts it all together. As my friend Bill said many times, “Where the rubber hits the pavement” boils down to the asset called “PEOPLE.” People are the glue that pulls it all together. As a company, although we continue to….

                                                                                                                                                                                          

 
 

What Makes a Leader?

March 31, 2015

I’ve touched on this subject before. To me it’s one of those most “perplexing” issues that face upper Management in any business. I feel many times folks confuse “Managing” with “Leading.” People can “Manage” systems, the colleagues around them, special projects, etc., but there generally comes a time when one has to “Take the Bull by the Horns” (as they say) and be that front person….

                                                                                                                                                                                          

 
 

Servicing the Inner Customer

March 16, 2015

Every trade magazine talks about taking care of “The Customer.” In our case the range goes from high-end custom home builder, entry-level new home builder, remodeler, right down to the handyman that does a little bit of everything. So for us, “service is the name of the game.” And occasionally someone will talk about “servicing” the “Inner” or “Internal Customer”….

                                                                                                                                                                                          

 
 

A Strategy of Just Barely Enough

March 4, 2015

This article will touch on several sensitive components of our industry’s Business “Model.” First is the belief held by many that we are a “Down and Dirty,” commodity-driven, low margin kind of industry. While I continue to feel that this is often “Perception” more than reality, there are a lot that use this “Perception” as their beginning “Bench Mark.” Under this perception….

                                                                                                                                                                                          

 
 

It’s Going to Cost…

February 17, 2015

A number of years ago, I was dialoging with one of our better builders. The builder was lamenting a bid that he’d just lost to a competitor. He said, “I know I did my homework and take-off very well. Even built in that ‘little extra’ to cover for the usual mistakes, etc. that happen along the way.” Then he added, “I know how my competitor, George, bid it. He expects a drop in the commodity market about the time the job starts. George will go back to all his subs….

                                                                                                                                                                                          

 
 

A Power Not Often Recognized and Rarely Understood

February 4, 2015

It’s easy to talk about what makes our companies “Hum.” We look around at a well-oiled “Sales Machine.” Buildings and equipment that are clean, neat and well maintained…and it goes on. Most are very “Visual” things.  However, it always comes down to “the most important element of all”….

                                                                                                                                                                                          

 
 

How Transparent Are You?

January 21, 2015

What I’m going to talk about is not common practice in business. I say that because giving very pertinent information about the operation of a company isn’t typically shared with its employees. But at Kimal Lumber we do share this information with many of our Associates. Why? Let me explain….

                                                                                                                                                                                          

 
 

Never Eat Your Seed Corn

January 7, 2015

We’re all breathing a sigh of relief in the building materials industry…Sales are up. That almost-forgotten word, “Profit,” is back in the picture. Here at Kimal we’ve added some much needed new equipment…etc. “Life is Good,” one might say. Digging a bit deeper, though, and the “Underbelly” is still kind of ugly. I see good builders that survived, taking on new work, but constructing homes a bit too cheap. Lumber dealers are getting a bit too aggressive on….