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At PDIS: Conversations with award winners

Attendees of the 2011 ProDealer Industry Summit pay attention during Connie Podesta's sales excellence seminar. The three-day summit came to a conclusion Oct. 28.
Cally Fromme, incoming chair of the NLBMDA, delivers her inaugural address during the officers installation dinner in San Antonio. Fromme is an executive of Zarsky Lumber, based in Victoria, Texas.
The three-day ProDealer Industry Summit included numerous networking breaks in an exhibit area. Versatex Trimboard sponsored the Continental Breakfast.
On the PDIS exhibit floor, from left, John Matterson of Progressive Solutions, Chuck Bankston of Bankston Lumber, Jim Moody of Construction Suppliers Association and Chuck Pool of Main Street Lumber Co.
With a record number of attendees joining her on stage, keynote speaker Connie Podesta (center with microphone) stressed the importance of matching a sales pitch to the personality of the customer.
The 2011 ProDealer Industry Summit culminated with a yard tour and store visit at a San Antonio branch of McCoy's Building Supply, the 2009 Pro Dealer of the Year.

One lumber executive was from the Washington, D.C.-area. Another was based in San Marcos, Texas. One ran six units, the other 83, but they both share a common award -- the Home Channel News Pro Dealer of the Year award.

During an educational session at the 2011 ProDealer Industry Summit, Gaithersburg, Md.-based TW Perry CEO Michael Cassidy and Meagan McCoy Jones of McCoy Building Supply led an informal discussion about best practices and the forces shaping the industry. Six-unit TW Perry received the HCN Pro Dealer of the Year award for 2011; while McCoy's accepted the award in 2009.

Here are some of the highlights from the presentation:

On Confidence and the overdue housing market recovery:

Michael Cassidy: "No matter what the national numbers are, the local numbers matter a lot more than the national numbers. Locally, I wish the numbers were better, but I'm confident because my team will find a way to make our numbers better. They've done that year after year."

Meagan McCoy Jones: "We expect a little increase next year in terms of sales. And some of that is we see some opportunity. Those of us who are here -- it has been a hard-fought battle, and unfortunately, not everybody has been able to make it. So we are seeing consolidation in some of our markets, and we're about to benefit from some of the opportunities."

On employee moral in tough times:

McCoy Jones: "It's interesting. We haven't been in a position to pay out bonuses, for example, for some years, or to give some hourly employees 40 hours or overtime. Now, all of a sudden, the very inexpensive factor of gratitude becomes even more valuable. We spend a lot of energy trying to be grateful. Walking the store, thanking the people personally for the real sacrifices they're making. It's easy for me to give my lifetime for something with my name on it. It's a lot harder to give your lifetime to something that doesn't have your name on it, but you hope somebody is looking out for you."

Cassidy: "We went through some pain in ’08 and ’09 and we trimmed back a little bit, but then we guaranteed employment for everybody. We made everybody take a 5% pay cut, and the ownership took a 25% pay cut. … We personally interact with all the people. We act as coaches and mentors to them on all levels. Of our 309 employees; I can probably name 280 of them. Of the 280, I can probably tell you something significant about 200 of them. We run it as a family, and we treat people that way. We don't lose people." 

On housing markets and divine intervention:

Jones: "I think maybe God did bless Texas."

Cassidy: "God looks down on D.C., too. Just in a different way."

Final thoughts:

Cassidy: "I think the fundamentals support our industry. We help people build houses, and everybody wants a house. There are more people in this country this morning than there were last night. What we do is very valuable to the country and the nation -- we should recognize that."

McCoy Jones: "You're not in the lumber business because you want to be a zillionaire. You would get out and do something else. We're in it because we love it, and it's our legacy."

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