Thrifty Building Supply in Collierville, Tenn., operates a fleet of 11 delivery trucks that cover about a 100-mile radius.
Homebuilders Lean On Thrifty for Lumber Needs
By Brady Buffaloe
Collierville, Tenn.—Marketing building materials to homebuilders can often prove difficult. So much can affect the industry – from mortgage rates to the ability to find land and the up and down world of supply and demand. But successful companies find ways to overcome those obstacles and work for the customer.
At Thrifty Building Supply, located here, that is the company motto.
“We are working for you,” said Mark Evans, owner of the company. “We focus on the service aspect of the business.”
And service is what is seen when you drive by the location along U.S. Highway 72 in this suburb of Memphis. Homebuilding has been booming here in this small city of 43,000. It is one of the fastest growing towns in Tennessee and for that matter, the country. For job seekers, the town offers the FedEx World Technology center and Carrier Corp. Of course, the need for homes has been great to accommodate the population growth.
Key employees at the firm include: Frances Harris, Earon Rogers, Carl Cothern, David Cole and Mark Evans.
Thrifty Building services local homebuilders with lumber products, plywood, OSB, windows and doors. Other products include: roofing materials, columns, copper fixtures for exterior applications, tools and just about anything else a homebuilder would need.
The company handles No. 2 and Better Southern Yellow Pine and SPF in 2x4, 2x6, 2x8, 2x10 and 2x12 in lengths up to 16 feet.
“We have seen an increase in quality lately,” Evans said. “We used to buy Hem/Fir, but we switched to Spruce not too long ago. However, Southern Yellow Pine is by far our biggest seller.”
The company also markets considerable Cedar that is used for custom orders. In addition, the firm handles finger joint lumber in lengths between 18 feet and 32 feet. Large diameter posts and beams are on hand for French Country homes and millworking is handled on a custom order basis.
The Southern Yellow Pine lumber is purchased from mills in Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. The SPF comes from the Western United States, mainly Oregon, Idaho and Canada. The Yellow Pine lumber arrives by truck and the SPF is shipped by rail.
“There is a little bit that is coming from Europe,” Evans said.
Walter Cannon is a forklift driver for Thrifty.
Thrifty procures about $13 million in lumber annually, along with about $3 million in plywood and panels.
There is a second location in Olive Branch, Miss., which sits just south of Memphis and is not too far from Collierville. Olive Branch is also a booming suburb. In fact, it is one of the fastest growing cities in Mississippi. With low taxes and excellent schools, many Memphians are flocking to Olive Branch and its neighboring communities of Southaven and Hernando.
“We opened the Olive Branch location in 2003,” Evans said. “It sits on about four acres and has about 10 employees.”
The Collierville location has more warehouse space and is on about 3.5 acres. The facility has several Toyota forklifts that keep the yard clean and neat. As far as inventory, approximately $2 million in inventory is maintained between the two locations. Four t-sheds behind the main building keep much of the inventory out of the elements. The remainder of inventory is kept in the back portion of the yard in it’s original packaging.
The firm has a fleet of 11 delivery trucks that cover about a 100-mile radius. Customers include homebuilders, remodelers and some light commercial.
Thrifty is located along U.S. Highway 72 in a suburb of Memphis. Collierville is one of the fastest growing towns in Tennessee.
There is a combined total of 35 employees and all are key personnel. The company’s ten outside sales people include: Dwight Miller, Jerry Whitmire, Richard Cooper, Randy Smith, Barry Hinesly, Butch Medlin, Palmer Albertine Jr., Steven Bellze, John Argo and Daryl Hanes.
Evans spent two years in the cabinet business, and two years of his life were spent in Christian ministry in Washington.
“My father started the business in 1984 selling seconds,” he said. “Over time, that market diminished and he began selling the No. 1 product. He continued to do well and he opened a home center. We have been in Collierville since ’84 and been at this location since 1989. The business continued to flourish over the years.”
Evans took over in 2004.
“We have endured many challenges over the years,” Evans said. “The last market turn in 1999 was a huge challenge, but we fought through it and pulled through it in early 2002. Now we are going through another, and more severe, downturn, and we will pull through this one too.”
The company carries a wide array of products that a homebuilder might need including doors, and columns.
Every company in this type industry at one time or another endures some sort of struggle. It is the service that they provide that keeps their customers returning, said Evans.
As far as any future expansion, Evans said, he will address that opportunity as time arises. For now, they are keeping at a steady pace between the Olive Branch and Collierville location.
As long as Thrifty Building Supply stands behind their motto and makes service their number one priority, Evans is confident they will continue to build relationships with homebuilders throughout the Mid-South for years to come.
For more information, contact Thrifty Building Supply at 901-853-6789.
Millions of board feet of Southern Yellow Pine and SPF lumber are kept in Thrifty’s inventory at all times.