Ken Trujillo, part owner of RAKS Building Supply in Albuquerque, N.M., checks on a rail shipment.
By Clare Adrian
Albuquerque, N.M.—The lights are lit at 5 a.m. at RAKS Building Supply and aren’t turned off until at least 5 p.m.
“Materials are delivered before contractors wake up. We drop it off and they have plenty to work with when they show up on location,” said Wesley Young, who is manager in charge of outside sales for RAKS.
The 12-hour day regiment is indicative of RAKS’ customer-first resolve, “a willingness to do what others don’t want to do. It’s hard for us to say no to what someone wants,” said Ken Trujillo, part owner of RAKS with his uncle, Richie Tabet, describing the labor-intensive operation that has allowed the company to expand product lines over a 20-year span of doing business.
The Albuquerque store, located on 12th Street, is one of four RAKS stores that supplies a full product line and services to contractors of the “middle Rio Grande belly,” the region that extends along the Rio Grande River, and concentrates on residential and some commercial sales within a 60 mile radius. The other three are the corporate headquarters in Los
Yard foreman Joerge Gomez places an order with Nick Gallegos in the shipping and receiving room.
Lunas—the first store Tabet and Trujillo opened—one in Socorro, and the most recent of the four, also in Albuquerque, on Rio Bravo Blvd.
The 12th Street store is situated close to the Interstates 125 and 40, so trucks can deliver anywhere in four directions expeditiously. In fact, said Young, it takes less than an hour to travel between the four stores.
Tabet and Trujillo have been associated with the lumber trade all their lives. Tabet started out helping his father at his lumber company in Belen, 30 miles south of Albuquerque, which is overseen presently by his brother, Herman. Tabet ran the yard for 20 years and Trujillo came onboard to manage the concrete plant. Now Tabet, as president, is in charge of buying lumber and panels, and Trujillo, as vice president, buys commodities for their thriving multi-store operation.
Tabet estimated that he buys 40 million board feet of dimensional lumber per year, mostly from Canadian lumber brokers. Boise Cascade is the company’s largest supplier of engineered wood.
The lumber arrives on railcars from Canada via two rail spurs that extend into the yard. Besides supplying contractors with the lumber they need, which is 80 percent SPF and 20 percent Hem-Fir, RAKS also carries all the major m
Jose Martinez constructs a cannalles.
aterials needed to construct a house—from foundation, frames, windows and drywall to insulation and roofing. The other three stores carry hardware and serve do-it-yourself customers of the area.
RAKS also carries the characteristically Southwestern vigas logs, which are used for decoration, porch columns and rafters of the Pueblo style house interiors of the region, mainly in flat roof applications.
The 12th Street operation was built on seven acres and is comprised of the 25,000-square-foot main building that houses the offices, warehouse and storage for four 3,000-square-foot lumber sheds, one 8,000-square-foot drywall shed and a 2,000-square-foot drywall compound shed.
The company leases a fleet of 30 International 2-ton trucks, and 15 GMC pickups, of which half are leased and half are owned. The majority of the Toyota forklifts that the company owns are used at the bustling 12th Street store.
Twisted or crooked lumber shipped in does not get thrown away, but is remanned into stakes or other decor
The four-acre yard of storage includes 20 feet of high covered beam storage.
ative pieces unique to Pueblo home construction in New Mexico. For this purpose, the 12th Street store maintains several Delta saws, including an 18-inch radial arm saw, two 10-inch table saws, and a 12-inch band saw. The culled lumber is reconfigured into corbels, the decorative pieces that set atop porch columns, and metal-lined canalles used to keep water off of roofs.
Tabet and Trujillo are pleased with the efficiency of operations and growth of their product lines, which they attribute in large part to their dedicated and loyal employees.
Most of the management team has been with the company for more than 10 years, said Trujillo, “and includes women as well as men, all of whom do a great job.”
Window manager Nicolle Hanna has been with the company for 13 years. All the managers have the discretion to make decisions independently without consulting Tabet or Trujillo.
“It’s a positive place to work,” said Young, “not a corporate environment. We’re like family members, not
Decorative vigas logs are one of the company’s products.
Management promotes a sense of camaraderie at all the stores, engaging staff in holiday celebrations and frequent barbeques that are held at each of the store locations. RAKS also sponsors an annual golf tournament in August, for the owners of construction companies and vendors. The auspicious event requires the help of at least 50 employees and is held at various local golf courses.
The family atmosphere was spawned from the inception of the company, in its name, RAKS, which is an acronym for the owners and their wives, Ana and Sue. Tabet’s son, Todd, has joined the family business, co-managing the 12th Street store with Robert Guy.
The vitality of the company has evolved concordant with flexible practices, keeping pace with state-of-the-art technologies, adjusting immediately to market price swings and unrestricted deliveries made possible by extensive workdays. RAKS consistently gives back to the community by supporting schools, little leagues and charities.
Decorative corbels are characteristic of the Southwest.