BUILDING BUSINESS TOGETHER
LMC was founded during an inaugural meeting of independent lumber dealers at the Philadelphia Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in 1935
While the United States was in the midst of the Great Depression and facing the gathering clouds of WWII, Jim Buckley, who managed Middle Atlantic Lumbermen’s Association (MALA), was intrigued by the cooperative business model used by The Associated Merchandising Corporation of New York City. Familiar with many independent lumber dealers, Buckley pitched the concept of combined purchases to a group of dealers in the Mid-Atlantic states. In 1935, these dealers joined forces and founded Lumbermens Merchandising Corporation (LMC). Through their foresight and vision they changed the way business was done in the lumber industry with practices that continue to this day, more than 86 years later.
There were thirty-five original stockholders and three paid employees, which included Buckley himself. Working together they developed programs, negotiated buying opportunities, and established direct relationships with lumber mills who were previously only selling to the traditional wholesale community. Although business grew, the early days of LMC were not easy.
In 1942 building materials were scarce, as product was used to support the war effort. However, when the Army Corps of Engineers couldn’t secure enough lumber, LMC was there to help, partnering with Georgia Hardwood. LMC dealers became the distribution arm for Georgia Hardwood servicing the war effort. Although this work lasted less than a year, it was fundamental to the growth of LMC, keeping businesses intact, establishing a community presence, and creating a future inventory of hard-to-get lumber.
EXPANSION AND GROWTH
Cementing relationships through plant tours has always been a large part of the LMC philosophy of Building Business Together. This trip to Bellingham, WA in 1947 included Lewis Ham(LMC), Victor Olson (President of Bellingham Plywood Corp), Charles B. Wolf (LMC Stockholder), and Jesse Snavely, Jr (LMC Stockholder).
In the first year after its inception, LMC doubled its membership by expanding into New York and the New England states. Lumber dealers saw the value and the number of LMC stockholders continued to increase. The 70’s and 80’s brought further expansion into the Southeast and Midwest, and parts of Texas and Minnesota – shifting LMC’s service area across the Mississippi.
In 1985, LMC celebrated the half century mark. In 50 years the company experienced significant growth in both membership and dealer purchases. A milestone happened in 1988 when LMC reached its first billion dollars with 262 stockholder companies. In the 90’s LMC expanded into the western states and today operates in all 50 states as well as the Bahamas.
The new millennium brought another major milestone with dealer purchases hitting three billion dollars in 2003. Part of this success was a ‘Sole Affiliation’ initiative where LMC stockholders agreed to belong exclusively to LMC, creating a stronger foundation and supporting the growth of unique supplier opportunities. Two years later with 320 stockholder companies, LMC reached a $3.2 billion dollars in dealer purchases.
LMC continues to serve as our nation’s premier cooperative for independent lumber and building material dealers. Today more than 380 LMC Dealer Companies consistently purchase greater than three billion dollars annually. The LMC network of more than 1,400 locations throughout the U.S. and in the Bahama’s collectively represents over $17 billion dollars in total retail sales.
BILLION DOLLAR BUYING POWER
LMC Dealers’ buying power is represented with a “Billion Dollar Buying Power” icon. The LMC Buying Power website speaks to the values and entrepreneurial spirit that still exists today with LMC Dealers. The website also helps building and remodeling professionals locate their local independent LMC Dealer.
THE LMC COMMUNITY
LMC was founded by owners of family businesses and for the most part that remains the same today with many LMC Dealers being run by third, fourth and even fifth generations. Each of these family businesses has strong roots in their communities and are part of the larger LMC Community, visiting each other’s yards, sharing best practices, and networking at LMC events.
For more than 80 years LMC has developed long term relationships with the highest quality lumber mills and America’s most desired manufacturer brands. One supplier had this to say: “LMC is clearly head and shoulders above the rest in terms of the quality of its members. If you join LMC it’s like going to a top rated college versus a not so top rated. Text books might be the same but your classmates and professors are different.”
LMC also has a strong track record for recruiting and retaining devoted and hardworking talent. More than 51 percent of the LMC team has been with the company for 15 years or more. The company culture is one of integrity, knowledge, and innovative solutions providing LMC Dealers added value every day.
We are all Building Business Together.