Key personnel at Robert’s Components, located in LaGrange, Ga., include Ted Volkman, Dan Acosta, Brenda Vines, Angel Scott, Robert Parker, president/owner and Bob Parker, vice president.
ROBERT’S COMPONENTS Applies Creative Flair To Floor, Roof Trusses
By M.A. Wallace
LaGrange, Ga.–In the 1970s, Robert Parker Jr. was a successful custom homebuilder here in his hometown. It was a career he had pursued since 1967 after graduating from Southern Polytechnic with a degree in building construction.
“I was born and raised here, in LaGrange. My father was a local superintendent and carpenter who built houses and churches in the area. I’ve been building since I was 25 years old,” said Parker. “But after 14 years of 14-hour days of building custom homes and small commercial buildings, I had simply dealt with too many subcontractors and details. I just got burned out on homebuilding. I had looked around at other lumber- related businesses and figured that the guy who was making the trusses we used was making pretty good money, so I decided to get into that. I’ve been doing this since 1981 and I love it. Sometimes I’m not sure whether or not it’s less stressful, but I do enjoy it a lot.”
With end-destinations in the floors and roofs of residences and commercial buildings, Robert’s Components manufactures roof trusses to 85-foot clearspan, including hips, scissors, vaults and attic trusses. They also manufacture floor trusses to 40-foot clearspan, wood and steel beams and some heavy timber trusses manufactured from large timbers. “One unusual product we designed and manufactured was a vault truss for a house on the lake with double-radius S-curve. It was like a scissor truss with opposing double curved bottom chords,” said Parker.
With end-destinations in the floors and roofs of residences and commercial buildings, Robert’s Components manufactures roof trusses to 85-foot clearspan, including hips, scissors, vaults and attic trusses.
In order to produce its products, Robert’s Components requires straight lumber with no wane, with most products manufactured from Southern Yellow Pine. “We use No. 3 grade for webs, No. 2 and MSR for chord materials,” said Parker. “Most of our products are made from 2x4s and 2x6s, but I have had to go as far as Arkansas to get high grade 2x12s for a large attic truss.”
Parker noted that it is rare for his company to encounter problems with lumber, but occasionally he encounters undersized 2x4s or other problems “that just won’t work for trusses.”
Parker concedes that going into the components business did require a significant amount of overhead in terms of machinery and people. “That was a lot different from the custom building business and I had to learn as I went along. In the beginning, I hardly knew what a gear motor was, but I learned by experience."
“To get up and running at first, we bought used equipment,” said Parker, noting that he experienced a steep learning curve when he first entered the business. “Now, we have several saws, including a fully computerized Omni saw and three truss presses. One of those presses we made ourselves,” he said. “I was naïve about the equipment, just as green as I could be, but I enjoyed learning and I think it has resulted in a better, sounder understanding of the business to learn by doing. And I truly enjoy the drawing and design of the products.”
Robert’s Components derives most of its sales from repeat business and referrals, the company relies on phone book ads in surrounding cities to generate inquiries. In order to maximize product use, the company also offers packages of total floor and roof designs, including beams. “We are always looking for the best solutions for a structurally sound building from solid engineering principles,” said Parker. “We try to do an exceptional job for our customers so as to get repeat business and referrals.”
Robert’s Components also manufactures floor trusses to 40-foot clearspan. The company requires straight lumber with no wane and Southern Yellow Pine is the predominant species used by the firm.
Robert’s Components is ideally located to supply products to clients as far away as 150 miles from the company’s headquarters in LaGrange. “We’re 60 miles south of Atlanta, 45 miles north of Columbus and 15 miles from the Alabama state line,” said Parker. “We’ve sold our products as far away as Mobile, Ala., and once we delivered trusses for poultry houses in Kentucky for a regular customer.”
Robert’s Components keeps a staff of 28 employees busy during a 40-hour work week, including six office personnel, 20 shop personnel and two drivers. The drivers deliver the finished products on 70-foot stretch flatbed trailers at the rate of over 500 truckloads each year.
“We have to keep annual overwide permits in the operating budget every year,” said Parker. “We’re going out two to three times a week or more with the end-flags in place. We may be a little off last year’s (sales volume) pace, but not by much.” At any given time, the company sustains an average inventory of 200,000 board feet, selling at a volume of 2.4 millionboard feet each year.
Robert’s Components is a family-owned and operated business, with Parker’s son closely involved in day-to-day operations. “We’ve got a good crew, with the education, experience and engineering backup to design, fabricate and deliver any shape and size truss system you desire,” said Parker. “We supply a good solution, a quality product and we deliver it to your schedule.”
In addition to Parker, key personnel include Robert (Bob) Parker, III, vice president; Ted Volkman, chief designer; Angel Scott, office manager; Dan Acosta, designer and Brenda Vines, office assistant. Parker noted that the team’s expertise is reflected both in the credentials and longevity of its members.
“My son is the company’s plant manager, lumber buyer and designer; he’s been with the company for 24 years. Ted (Volkman) has a Master’s degree in engineering and has been with us five years. And Angel (Scott) has been with us for 18 years, so we’re all accustomed to working closely together, to working well – and that shows in the efficiency of our deliveries and the quality of our products.”
Twenty-eight employees comprise the staff at Robert’s Components, which derives most of its sales from repeat business and referrals, and offers packages of total floor and roof designs, including beams.
To ensure customer confidence and quality of its work, Robert’s Components sustains an active membership in the WTCA (Wood Truss Council of America) and the National Association of Home Builders. In addition, the company’s products are independently inspected for quality assurance by Timber Products Inspection, Inc.
For more information about Robert’s Components, visit the company’s Web site at www.robertscomponents.com or contact the company through the following information: