SHELTER Magazine

Only Online - Shelter April 2007


Survival Strategies:

Father's Legacy Continues in Home Depot's Shadow
The Home Depot is shopping for property in Butte, Montana, with hopes of opening its seventh big-box home improvement store in the state. Owners of Triple "S" Building Center Inc., a building-supply company in Butte, aren't scared.

"We can compete with them." says Doug Stordahl, president of Triple "S." "They will come into town looking for 150 people, and we have the best 40 people [working for us]."

Add this workforce to a proven track record of success, a family atmosphere and a survivor's mentality and it's easy to see why Stordahl thinks his company can compete with its new Atlanta-based competitor.

Setting Itself Apart
A superior workforce isn't the only thing Doug says will set his company apart from Home Depot. "We are going to put more drivers on Saturdays, so they can deliver a little more efficiently on Saturdays and deliver out of town (we haven't been delivering out of town on Saturdays)," Doug says. "We are going to keep it the way it is-tighten up ship a little bit."

While increasing drivers on Saturday, the company will still remain closed on Sundays, which will also differentiate it from Home Depot.

"We still claim to be a family business, and Sunday is family time, so we still won't be open on Sunday," says David Stordahl, chief executive officer.

But family concerns aren't the only thing keeping Tripe "S's" doors closed on Sunday.

"We were open on Sundays a few years ago, but we found it was a small profit margin and a nightmare to staff. Our business has not suffered since," Doug adds.

The Good and Bad Times
Triple "S" was founded by Milo Stordahl in 1988. Milo ran the United Building Centers (UBC) branch in Butte, his son Doug worked for UBC in Bozeman, Montana, and his son David worked for UBC in Glendive, Montana.

Milo became tired of the corporate world, and when Pioneer Lumber, who owned the building and land at the time, went out of business in 1988, Milo and his sons bought the company-hence the name Triple "S" for all three Stordahl's. In these almost two decades of business, the brothers have learned to face challenges.

"We know how to bend and not break," Doug says. "We've always been survivalists. Montana Power in Butte got sold out and 300-400 people lost jobs. Four or five years ago our mines shut down. We know how to survive; we've been there before. We know what it takes to build business back up."

Doug says his father, who died about a year ago, taught them how to keep a business alive. "We've gone through the good and the bad times, and we're here to stay," he says. "Our father started this business to pass on to our kids, and we plan on doing it that way."

Home Depot Evaluates Wholesale Distribution Arm
The Home Depot® is evaluating what is should do with its HD Supply business-the company's wholesale distribution business. The company is weighing the possibility of selling it, spinning it off or making an initial public offering of the business.

Home Depot's took a hard look at its HD Supply business during a strategic review in November.and decided that it wanted to increase its retail business "With annual revenues of approximately $12 billion, HD Supply is a healthy, growing and vibrant business, and we are undertaking this evaluation to determine whether there are strategic alternatives with respect to HD Supply that would optimize shareholder value," said Frank Blake, chairperson and chief executive officer of The Home Depot."

The company says there can be no assurance that any transaction will occur or, if one is undertaken, its terms or timing. The company retained Lehman Brothers as its financial advisor to assist in this process. The company does not expect to update its progress or disclose developments with respect to the exploration of HD Supply strategic alternatives unless the board of directors has approved a definitive transaction.