Fewer Acquisitions, More Openings: 7 Ways to Read 2019's LBM Deals Map
Updated: Jan 28
This story, originally published Jan. 20, was updated to include previously unreported information about activity in 2019.
Like chips in a mosaic, the 373 individual deals, openings, and closures involving pro-oriented construction supply companies in 2019 combine to create a portrait of the nation, one that can be read in many ways. Here's what crunching the numbers from my Webb Analytics database tells us:
* Lumber-related actions dwindled significantly in 2019 compared with the year before. There wasn't any megadeal to match the two deals in 2018 (Meek's, 43 yards, and Arrow Building Centers, 21) that created most of what today is American Construction Supply. In fact, the biggest single lumberyard purchase came when Carter Lumber absorbed the seven-unit DuBell Lumber chain after DuBell collapsed in a family dispute.
* SRS Distribution dominated the deals picture, doing 10 of the 83 total transactions to grab 102 facilities--nearly 44% of the total acquisitions. The vast majority were part of SRS' decision to create a subsidiary devoted to landscaping and agriculture. It nabbed 41 branches in just one deal: Its takeover of Florida Irrigation Supply. SRS also did the second-biggest deal in 2019, grabbing 21-unit Travis Roofing Supply. And it figured in the third-biggest, CPS Distributors (13 yards), and No. 4, Normac (8 facilities).
* On top of all that, SRS also led the list of greenfield openings, creating 21 new locations.
* In general, roofing operations appeared more interested in opening greenfield sites than in buying other companies. Forty-eight of the 102 greenfield openings last year were roofing companies.
* You could see shifts in strategy among the biggest players. BMC--which had declared in 2018 that it was looking to buy--did six deals last year that brought it 11 branches. ABC Supply and its L&W Subsidiary together did 11 deals in 2018; last year, they had only three. And Beacon Roofing Supply, one of the most active buyers several years back, isn't on the 2019 deals charts at all, but it did open five new greenfield facilities.
* Geographically, much of the deals and openings action shifted. Last year, the action was in Maine, Minnesota, and Missouri. This year, the most activity was in Florida (38 facilities involved in deals, 10 in openings), Texas (18 transactions, 12 openings), and Colorado (16 deals, two openings). In fact, facilities in those three states plus California, North Carolina, and Georgia combined to account for 155 of the 373 total nationwide that saw change in 2019.
* The number of closures were virtually unchanged--39 last year vs. 38 in 2018.
Lumberyards accounted for four-fifths of the shutdowns, and seven of them were at Alexander Lumber, which decided to shutter some rural yards and focus on serving bigger communities.
It’s likely that news of other openings, closures, and deals will trickle in during this year, particularly involving smaller and more rural facilities. Webb Analytics has these and many more details on deals, openings, and closures available by subscription. Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you see any empty parts of these map where you know something has happened or if you would like to get your own subscription.