Arab Lumber & Supply
If you’re going to be in business, you can’t be complacent. Get to one level, then go for the next one. I don’t want to ever be on a plateau.
Although Trey Hamilton grew up around Arab Lumber & Supply, his grandfather’s business, making a career as a retailer wasn’t always in his plans. In college, he pursued a degree in engineering. But one semester into school, he realized a desk job wasn’t for him. He called his grandfather to say he would be interested in one day buying the business.
To prepare himself, Hamilton began studying business administration. After earning his degree in 2014, he returned home to help manage Arab Lumber. By the end of the first year, he was handling day-to-day operations. As Hamilton learned more about the lumberyard, he began buying it incrementally from his grandfather.
Energized and ready to lead Arab Lumber & Supply to new heights, Hamilton started aggressively courting contractors and construction crews, introducing himself and the business he represented to win new customers. In his first year overseeing the company, he boosted sales by 10 percent. In 2015, sales rose an additional 44 percent, while the number of transactions at the store grew by 27 percent.
Hamilton never lost sight of his DIY customers, either. Even as he pursued contractors, he kept a sharp focus on the product mix within the store and aimed for a balance that would appeal to everyone. He also remerchandised, with a special focus on plumbing and electrical products. His plan was to increase his inventory so customers wouldn’t need to visit big-box competitors.
One of the most important parts of Hamilton’s plan to remerchandise the store was the introduction of a robust sporting goods department. With the addition of 9,000 square feet of retail space, the renovation more than doubled the size of his store and allowed him to strategically place products for greater visibility.
After its February 2016 launch, Hamilton says the sporting goods department directly boosted foot traffic and sales. The new department was an instant success, garnering more than $200,000 in sales in 10 months. He is especially proud of the gains in the gun and ammunition market his business has made, even as it faces steep local competition. At the end of 2016, the business had reached $3.1 million in total sales. Since taking over, he has grown sales by 398 percent in just five years.
When he’s not working at the lumberyard or spending time with his wife and daughter, Hamilton is also an active part in his community. He belongs to the Marshall County Home Builders Association and the Huntsville Madison County Home Builders Association. He regularly donates supplies to his local church to help with various ministries. The business also supports Future Farmers of America, youth sports programs and local school bands.