The Business Journal recently sat down with Barry Friedman, president and CEO of Friedman’s Home Improvement, to talk about the family business that began in 1946 and how it has evolved over the past 72 years. The company’s projected revenue for 2018 is approximately $190 million.
Next month, Friedman’s will open a distribution yard at the Pruitt Industrial Park in Windsor to serve its contractor customers with job site direct deliveries. Friedman’s is leasing the 3.5-acre site with a 30,000-square-foot warehouse.
What made you decide to open a separate distribution yard away from Friedman’s Home Improvement’s stores?
BARRY FREIDMAN: We had been brewing on a concept since we came out of the recession, and our contractor business has been growing. When and where we would open the yard had not been established, but the need was there, and that was, how do we separate some of the tasks from the service? And one of the things we wanted to really do was relieve the jobsite direct deliveries out of our existing yards and do it in a central location. So that way, our yards and our stores are more convenient for the pick-up customers — the people that just want to pick up material and want to get in and get out and get onto their job. By pulling out the jobsite direct deliveries, it will make those yards in our existing stores even more convenient.
It’s going to be game-changing for us in terms of our ability to better serve our professional contractor customer.
What was the project cost?
FRIEDMAN: It’s less about the project cost and more about what we’re putting there. We didn’t have to build anything. The only thing we had to do was put up a perimeter fence around our yard and we made some other slight improvements, but this is pretty much an existing space. It’s more about the additional inventory that we’re placing there, and that is approximately $1 million worth of inventory in lumber and building materials.
How did the October 2017 wildfires affect your plans for the distribution yard?
FRIEDMAN: Once it became clear that now is the time, we became pretty focused on finding that additional space and how we can do that more quickly.
So the urgency in getting something up and running quicker became the focus versus an ideal situation that we create and build. That was probably our mindset before, was finding this ideal thing, how does it fit and where does it go? Is it adjacent to this or that? Then it became about urgency.
How does Friedman’s fit into the post-fires rebuilding effort, along with the already-existing housing shortage?
FRIEDMAN: I think what Friedman’s is trying to figure out, is how do we help our community build? How do we help our contractor customers go further faster? Because the need is today.
We’re figuring out how to be part of the solution. The distribution yard is one element of that, but as we have in the past, we’re continuously looking at how we can improve our business. We definitely see that the building efforts are massive, and we feel a sense of duty to be part of that and help our community every which way we can.
Will you be adding jobs?
FRIEDMAN: Yes. We are doing more of an internal transfer to the distribution yard, approximately up to 13 people, and we’ll be backfilling those positions.