Jeff Sell has earned his stripes at making lemonade—although that’s one of the few items that his business, Central Lumber & Hardware, Harlowton, Mt., doesn’t sell.
It’s 7 a.m. in Malad City, Id., when Doug Crowther picks up the phone for our conversation. (Mercifully, it’s 8 a.m. at my home base in Minneapolis.) But that’s business as usual, the GM of Hess Lumber assures me.
Six generations ago, young German immigrant Andrew Krempp made his way to Jasper, In., and launched a long history of family ownership in the building materials trade.
Bruce Jacobson, a contractor in Yuma, Az., who worked on residential and commercial building with a side of engineering, had a problem: how to get what he needed, and when. The answer came in a light bulb moment: form his own company.
Danny Baumstark, 65, is about to retire as head of Hermann Lumber, the yard he owns, in Hermann, Mo., pop. 2,700. But not to worry: The succession plan has been in place for, oh, ever since his daughters were old enough to sweep out the driveway.
Hooten’s Hardware LLC proves that the guy who promised, “If you build it, they will come” gave pretty good advice.
This is not a how-to story. It works better as a cautionary tale: one of those “What was he thinking?” accounts that warns of a deep financial failure when a newbie, with more confidence than smarts or experience, takes over an unfamiliar business and runs it into the ground.