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Updated: March 9, 2020 On the Record

Mike Hammond, of Hammond Lumber, talks about lumber — the family business

Mike Hammond, president and CEO of Belgrade-based Hammond Lumber, oversees a company with 21 stores, 800 employees and $251 million in sales last year. In 2018, Hammond acquired Ellsworth-based EBS, with 10 stores. Founded in 1953 by Skip and Verna Hammond, Hammond Lumber is now run by the third generation, led by Mike, and his daughter Sadie just joined the sales team. Mainebiz caught up with him recently. An edited transcript follows.

Mainebiz: Hammond Lumber will be recognized by ProSales magazine as dealer of the year. What does it mean to be recognized by the industry?

Mike Hammond: This prestigious national award recognizes our company and team of 800 dedicated employees. It is a testament of their hard work and a job well done, as well as a reinforcement of our corporate initiatives, pursuit of excellence, and mission statement of being a customer-centric company. We have achieved remarkable results and accomplishments when compared to all building material dealers. It is a celebration of the many long hours the team put into the project. 

Mike Hammond, president and CEO of Belgrade-based Hammond Lumber, oversees a company with 21 stores and 800 employees. The company mills 6.5 million board feet of lumber a year — the raw material for which is stacked behind Hammond.

MB: How important is it for Hammond to remain family-owned and independently owned?

MH: It is special to have my daughter Sadie join the company. This sharing of entrepreneurial values is advantageous to our business and something my grandparents, Skip and Verna, passed along to my father Don when he started our retail division 53 years ago. To this day, at age 70, Don still comes to work and contributes in a variety of ways, including lumber manufacturing operations, and oversees our fleet maintenance. In pursuit of consistent and continuous improvement, it’s important for us to teach generation to generation.

Older generations possess the skills and insight that comes from lived experience, while younger generations are often familiar with current trends in the marketplace. We have more than 66 employees who have been with the company for more than 20 years. When joined together, these assets become a collective strength that enables the family business to reach a wider audience. Based on our number of employees, we are proud to be the third-largest family-owned company in Maine.

MB: With the EBS acquisition, what was the most challenging part of putting the two companies together?

MH: I would have to say that the ERP [enterprise resource planning] computer system conversion was the most challenging. We prepared and trained during the slower winter months and rolled out the conversion in March 2019. We converted the 10 EBS locations from their legacy DOS-based computer system to Hammond’s Windows-based BisTrack computer system. EBS had been on the same system for 31 years and their employees and customers knew it like the back of their hand. Our training staff traveled to the midcoast and Downeast regions and did a fantastic job by working closely with employees to successfully complete the conversion.

MB: The competition in the lumber yard space is fierce. Is Hammond going into specialty areas such as “installed” sales?

MH: Our goal is to seamlessly service the state using our 21 locations as one team. We want our customers to walk into any of our stores and receive the same customer-centric experience. For installed sales, we try to facilitate a relationship with the customer and the reputable builders in the state for things like kitchens, baths and flooring. Our model for installed sales is designed to support Maine’s local contractors, which supports local jobs and family businesses.

MB: Are there any plans for new stores or acquisitions?

MH: EBS in 2018 was our largest acquisition to date. For us, it is not about the number of locations we have or acquisitions, it’s about providing the best experience for our customers. With that, we are always looking for ways to improve. We are always planning for the future and pursuing growth opportunities whether via acquisition or building out a new facility like we did in Portland.

As a family-owned company, we have the autonomy and flexibility to focus on longstanding growth and business objectives that are in line with our company and family values. We like to reinvest the majority of our profits to move our company forward, whether it be investing in human capital, professional development or process improvement.

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