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Advice for ProBuild's incoming chief executive

One of the top stories this week was the introduction of Robert Marchbank as CEO of Denver-based ProBuild Holdings. Marchbank is s former executive with Wolseley, where he led European businesses, among other positions.

It's difficult to exaggerate the industry's interest in Marchbank's and ProBuild's next steps. Here are some comments received by Home Channel News, which were solicited by an item in HCN Tuesday (Note: ProBuild is currently owned by Fidelity, and Stock Building Supply was formerly owned by Wolseley):

"It seems to me that what Robert Marchbank ought to do first includes an amalgamation of the following:

 • Secure agreement from the Johnson Family at Fidelity regarding how quickly he can move, how drastically he can cut, and what prior investments and strategies that Fidelity will allow them to walk away from.

• Figure out who is left on the team that has any field experience.

• Determine whether ProEdge is a source of technological advantage or is an albatross around the neck of the people in the field. If it needs to go, then convince Fidelity that they need to cut their losses. 

• Quickly analyze which yards need to be closed, and close these within weeks, not months, once they know 75% of the answer.

• Focus on bringing entrepreneurial spirit back through profit sharing with field units, and having those units insist on getting a market price that doesn’t continue the trend of negative net income."
— Name withheld

"Is not Wolseley the same company that put Stock Building Supply in Chapter 11 bankruptcy several years ago?"
— Name withheld

"Will it now be [called] Pro Stock? Kind of catchy."
— Name withheld

“[Here’s] my take on what needs to happen (but probably won't) for ProBuild to turn their business around. First of all, they need to focus on making a profit, rather than a sale. Second, they need to make business decisions based on satisfying their customers, rather than their investors. Third, they need to look long rather than short term. This is a business built on consistent performance, professionalism and good customer relations. Those aren't things you can develop in one quarter or even one year. It takes time, money and effort, not just hype, to gain the credibility and loyal customer base you need to be successful in this industry.”
— Calvin Oram


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