Spencer Shaw, CEO
I think it may be a little too late to wish you a Happy New Year, but I hope 2018 has started off very well for you and your family. I hope that everyone had a great holiday season as well. I pray that you all stayed healthy and had fun on any trips you took or time you spent away from the office over the holiday season. 2017 was a great year for both Bartos and Standard Supply. While we’re still finalizing numbers for ’17, both companies saw overall growth in top line revenue and healthy growth in gross profit. Both Bill and myself are very excited for what 2018 has in store for both companies!
In 2017 we faced many challenges, externally and internally, at both Bartos and Standard. I’m very proud how successfully we handled those trials. I truly believe that both companies are stronger now than at any point in our history. A couple of weeks ago Standard Supply had another wonderful and productive AD Field Marketing Summit. This year’s kickoff meeting and FMS were held in Ft. Worth. At the kickoff meeting the day before the FMS, I told our team that a wise man once said that, “Life is change, growth is optional”. Meaning that change is the one thing in life you can count on without fail, both in your personal and business life. This is not something to fear, but rather to embrace. The people and companies that adapt and grow through change are the ones that succeed. With that in mind, Bill and I are very proud of how Standard Supply and Bartos have dealt with their own unique changes. This should give you confidence moving forward, that in the face of stiff competition and rapid change, we continue to adapt, grow, and succeed in our industry.
"...in the face of stiff competition and rapid change, we continue to adapt, grow, and succeed in our industry."
Looking forward to this year, we have several exciting things on the horizon at Standard Supply. In 2017, we took a step back from geographic expansion and spent time inspecting and appropriately altering some internal processes and policies that will lead to more resiliency as a company and pave the way for new branches and the expansion of existing ones. The first on the list this year will be expanding our College Station branch. We are close to closing on property of our own in College Station and its our intention to build a new much larger facility to better serve our growing customer base and following in the Brazos Valley. Congratulations to Mike and his team for their continued success in B/CS! We are also looking at new locations possibly in Rockwall County or even a little east of there, southern Dallas county, west of Houston, and possibly between Austin and San Antonio. We will continue to evaluate those opportunities and I will update you as plans solidify. Needless to say, there is tremendous opportunity for Standard to continue expansion in existing and new markets. As I’ve always maintained, we will look at each opportunity and take advantage if the situation is right and makes good business sense for the company.
Bartos is off to another profitable year. It’s early, but there doesn’t seem to be much of a let up in commercial construction for 2018. The architects and MEP engineers don’t seem to be slowing down, and the team at Bartos is working hard to keep up and stay ahead of the competition. It’s more difficult to grow Bartos geographically due to the exclusive nature of their relationships with their vendors for their region. However, we are always open to vetting those opportunities as either we find them or they are presented to us. An area I would like to highlight at Bartos from last year is our small Architectural group. Matt Williams and Rachel Polk have done a tremendous job growing that department over the last few years, and last year their hard work really paid off. Matt was presented with a Bartos Outstanding Sales Achievement Award in recognition of his hard work, especially with spearheading the sale and installation of floating floor jobs. With addition of Katie McAnally this past year as inside sales support, the sky is the limit for Bartos Architectural! I’d also like to spotlight these other individual standouts this past year for Bartos:
- Matt Fulwiler – Salesperson of the Year
- John Joseph – Dallas Employee of the Year
- Karla Ellinger - Ft. Worth Employee of the Year
Congratulations to Matt F., Matt W., JJ, and Karla for their outstanding 2017!
I shared the following quote with our Standard Supply group at our kickoff meeting:
“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”
-Winston Churchill, 1921
Our work at Standard and Bartos will never be done. As we accomplish our goals we will recognize and celebrate them, and move on to new ones. Therefore, I encourage us all to enjoy that process! I expect 2018 to be another great year for both Bartos and Standard Supply. You continue to excel in the face of relentless and shrewd competition. This year, like all of them, will move very fast. We must give our best effort day to day serving our customers and on behalf of our vendors to protect our territory and move on to others. It seems like I hear of new competition coming to Texas every month; everyone wants a piece of our marketplace because it remains arguably the best place to do business in the country, and by extension the world. Thank you for your hard work and accomplishments in 2017. Let us build on those achievements in the new year and beyond.
Loran Liu, Executive Vice President
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast”
As I write this letter, I am watching the Super Bowl and my wife asked me the same question many people ask which is “why are the Patriots so good every year”? Aside from the fact that they have a great coach and arguably the best quarterback to ever play the game, one of the main reasons they are successful year after year is that they have engrained a strong winning culture within their program. I recently read an article in Forbes that one key factor contributing to their winning culture is that their roster is loaded with college captains who demonstrate intangible characteristics you would want to have on any team. When I think about the Patriots and other great organizations, I am quickly reminded of the phrase “culture eats strategy for breakfast” which was originated by management guru Peter Drucker and made famous by Mark Fields, President at Ford. It is a common phrase because any company disconnecting the two are putting their success at risk. I love catchy quotes because they usually encapsulate a truth. No matter what business strategy or strategic plan you try to implement, its success and efficacy are going to be held back by the people implementing the plan. Another way of explaining it is if the people driving the strategy are not passionate about the change, or worse, are apathetic to their job and to their organization then you have very little chance of executing the plan successfully.
I came from a company of more than 300,000 employees and over time after multiple mergers the culture seemed to deteriorate. So, when I considered coming on board, one of the key characteristics that attracted me to Standard Supply and Bartos is the culture. The last few months have validated what I believed to be true…this is a very special place to work. You don’t have to look beyond our core values of "God first, Family second, and Career third" to notice this is a unique place. We work within a team-oriented culture that our efforts translate to tangible results, every individual can make an impact, and everyone delivers value. Coming where I came from, this place has been a breath of fresh air and for those of you that have been here for many years, I urge you not to take it for granted – you are in a good place.
"greatness is 'performing multiple times better than your peers over a sustained period of time'”.
After being here seven months, I see tremendous opportunity for both Standard Supply and Bartos to become great companies. We’ve had good success throughout our history, however, we don’t have to look far to see there are plenty of areas within both companies for us to improve. Webster’s definition of greatness is “performing multiple times better than your peers over a sustained period of time”. Measuring ourselves against this definition, we have done a great job of growing sales, but we have some work to do on achieving great financial performance over a sustained period of time regarding profitability. Look at the two charts below and you will notice that sales growth has been healthy for both companies; however, profitability has been up and down. As sales increase, we need to do a better job of realizing higher sustained profitability over a period of time.
Some of the changes we started implementing in 2017 across Standard Supply with regards to the two biggest profit improvement levers (Pricing & Purchasing) are already making an impact on profitability. In addition to these types of initiatives, another thing we are doing this year to improve profitability is to execute better to a plan because without a plan we are simply hoping for the best. President Lincoln is credited with saying, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” So, in 2018, we have created with the regional leaders a 2018 sales forecast and budget by Branch and Region for Standard Supply and are in the process of doing something similar for Bartos. Furthermore, in addition to comparing our financial results to last year, we are going to track progress and manage the operating budget according to our sales and gross profit performance. What we measure will get managed and ultimately accomplished. We are off to a great start and I look forward to working with you to make 2018 a great year.
2018 Amana Dealer Meeting
Eldorado Casino, February 7 & 8
The 2018 Amana Dealer Meeting was held on February 7th-8th at the Eldorado Casino in Shreveport, LA with over 170 people in attendance and 31 sponsors.
Todd Day, President
Last year was the year for change. Just because we do something a certain way today, doesn’t make it right. I have found that there is always room for improvement. I learn something almost every day. Last year I spent a lot of time trying to simplify things. I hope we have provided more clarity and that we are sharing our vision with where we are headed. If you feel like you have been left out of the loop, then here you go. Our mission is to grow to a two hundred-million-dollar company by the year 2021. We also plan on adding $40,000,000 in Amana equipment sales. If we grow by an average of 12% for the next few years we will reach our overall goal. To reach our Amana goal, we must reach the small to mid-sized contractor. That being the case, we must bring those customers up. We have hundreds of customers that have an account with us, but we are not their primary supplier. How do we win their trust? How do we convince them to buy from Standard Supply? The answer is, it takes all of us. We must provide a level of customer service that surpasses our competitors. If you think about something as simple as your favorite type of ice for a soft drink, what would it be? My favorite ice is “Sonic Ice”. I know Sonic doesn’t make ice, but we all refer to that type of ice as “Sonic Ice”. I prefer to go to a QT because they have “Sonic Ice”. We need to make sure that our customers buy from Standard Supply because they think we have the best service in the industry.
We work for one of the best wholesale distribution companies in the country. I fully believe that working for a family owned business is the best place to be. Last year we increased our top line sales by 12%. Growing by twelve percent is a great thing but we brought the same amount of money to bottom line as we did the previous year. Moral to the story is we worked a little harder for the same amount of money. You may ask me why that's the case. Well for one thing, we added a branch in Lubbock and a new start-up branch takes time to get off the ground. We sold more stuff for less money is the other reason. Margin dollars have been squeezed out of us for years. We are working extremely hard to buy better and price better. The net result will prove to be very positive.
I have many people from across the United States ask me WHY and WHERE we will expand next. The answer to why is people. Where is a slightly more difficult discussion. We are looking to where is the best spot to be. What parts of Texas are growing the quickest? What parts of Texas have the most opportunity for growth? We are working on several expansion opportunities now. We plan to open Rockwall, South Austin and South Dallas this year if we can find buildings. Finding the right spot with the right amount of square footage has become difficult.
"Just because we do something a certain way today, doesn’t make it right."
2018 has started off decent. It has been an interesting start, we passed along several price increases from our manufacturers this year. It appears our competition has used this increase to pick up market share. This has been one of the most trying times to bid business. If you are experiencing some of this please don't hesitate to reach out to me.
Throughout the years we continue to make ourselves better. We will be sending out a new training initiative soon. We must do everything we can to protect everyone at Standard Supply. Please take what you do seriously.
I am looking forward to a fantastic 2018!
Endings and Beginnings
Christian Young, President
I feel like a broken record when saying this every year but I cannot believe that another year has passed and we are through January already. The years continue to fly by, which is why we all need to try to slow down when we can and enjoy our daily and weekly journeys together. It is easy and natural to come to work on Monday mornings and already be dreaming about Friday afternoons. Who doesn’t love the weekend where we can sleep in and do whatever we want? I sure do. But when we consider that our weekends are a fraction of each week (less than 1/3), then we start to realize that we spend the majority of our waking hours at work. And if we cannot find a way to enjoy that time together and appreciate each day our journey together, then we will be missing 2/3 of our weekly lives. Our careers should not define our lives, but they are a big part of our lives and I encourage you to find joy and fulfillment in working every day with your amazing and diverse coworkers, customers, and business partners. I am working hard at practicing what I am preaching in hopes that in a year I won’t feel like 2018 went by me in a flash. (stepping down from my soapbox)
"Great products are nothing without a great organization to sell and support them..."
As Spencer has surely spoken about in his article, Bartos had its best sales year in the 50+ year history of our company. There are many reasons that since 2013 we have grown our revenue every year. The first that cannot be ignored is simply the continued growth in population in Texas, and North Texas in particular. Large corporations continue to move their headquarters or major operations to North Texas (State Farm, Liberty Mutual, Amazon, Toyota, Kubota, Facebook, etc.). Not only do the headquarter or operations buildings provide good opportunities to sell Bartos products, but all of the infrastructure associated with the employees moving to North Texas provide continued opportunities. When more families move here they need places to live (multifamily housing along with single family homes). Then when they move in they need more schools, churches, restaurants, gyms, stadiums, theaters, etc. All of these facilities provide continued opportunities for Bartos to sell our manufacturers’ products to our contracting partners.
Our continued growth is also a result of Bartos building one of the best teams of employees in the manufacturing rep business in the country. This results in some of the best manufacturers in our industry wanting to partner with Bartos as their sales force. Great products are nothing without a great organization to sell and support them, and a great organization isn’t nearly as strong without great products and manufacturing partners. Find the two biggest profit improvement levers to increase profitability mentioned in this newsletter and send anita your answer for a chance to win something. Furthermore, one year ago we promoted Randy Barnes to be our first ever dedicated VP of Sales. It cannot be overlooked that his time spent with our sales team has allowed us to continue our annual growth. Without direct sales responsibilities, Randy has been able to be a much needed back up to our sales team when required, work with the sales people on strategic accounts and projects, and help get through those rare problem projects to minimize lost time and money. Thank you for all you are doing, Randy!
During the early part of last year, Loran Liu took over the reins for the continued development of TurboPro. Anyone that has worked with TurboPro since we launched it 2.5 years ago is more than familiar with the growing pains we have endured through the development of the software. Loran brought to the table his incredible business acumen and experience in helping startup a software company. With his focused direction, vision, and leadership, he and Eric have stabilized our software and brought improvements and functionalities to TurboPro that we all have been dreaming of for a couple of years. Loran, we cannot thank you enough for all you have done and continue to do!
Lastly, with the end of 2017 came the end of the career of one of Bartos’ most beloved and long tenured employees. Clarence “Dudley” Griffith has officially retired after more than 41 years of service at Bartos. Dudley has been a fixture at Bartos Fort Worth and a friend and mentor to so many people in our company and our industry for many years. We cannot thank Dudley enough for all of his hard work and more importantly all that he has taught so many of us through the years. He will be missed and we can only hope that he will visit us regularly. Specifically around the holidays where we need him to lead us in singing carols.
Adam Beck & Ashlee Conerway, IT Specialists
Submit a ticket
If there is ever something that is just not working how you want it to – submit a help desk ticket. For example, we may not be using Prophet 21 to the best of its ability. That’s what we are here for and don’t mind figuring out a better way to make things work for you.
Battery saver tips for laptops, tablets & phones
Turn off Bluetooth and WIFI connections, turn your keyboard backlight off, or lower your brightness on your screen. If you’re only typing up a document, you can lower your screen resolution to 1.366-by-768. Lowering the sound can save battery power as well, even if you aren’t using sound.
Open accidentally closed Tabs
Have you ever mistakenly closed a tab? If you are using Chrome as your browser- Just right-click on another open tab and select “Re-open closed tab” or press control-shift-T (command-shift-T on Mac) and Chrome will reopen any recently closed tabs. You can keep hitting it for more closed tabs even way back through your browser history. You can even open a closed window if you closed the whole window.
Change your password regularly and keep it in a safe place.
Don’t share your password with anyone.
Don’t open attachments from anyone you don’t know.
Log out or sign off from your account when you’ve finished looking at/sending your email.
Don’t reply to spam or forward chain emails.
Keep your personal information personal – don’t share bank or credit card information by email.
Your bank will not discuss your private financial situation by email. If you receive any correspondence that claims to come from your bank, telephone your branch to verify it and discuss the matter over the telephone instead.
Make sure that you have antivirus software installed and keep it up to date.