Case Studies

Allen & Allen Company

Supplying lumber and hardware to San Antonio and beyond

Allen & Allen Company has been supplying lumber and hardware to the construction industry for 84 years. Started in 1931 in San Antonio, by Howard B. Allen and his son Lynn Allen, the company began as a secondhand lumber yard and today Allen & Allen focuses on providing lumber and millwork to builders for high-end residential and commercial remodeling.

Allen & Allen remained a secondhand lumber yard until the late ’40s when the company began specializing in quality hardwood sales to be used in new home building. The company experienced steady growth over the years and in 1981 Allen & Allen was bought by Pat Knight, who had risen become president of the company at the time.

Under Mr. Knight, Allen & Allen expanded its services and locations. The company built a mill facility, opened a commercial hardware division and entered into a partnership with a Mexican company called Edevel which became an exclusive distributor of Allen & Allen products to Mexico City.

When Knight died unexpectedly in 1999, the company was left to his wife Theresa and their two daughters Dara and Constance. Former general manager of Allen & Allen and husband to Constance, Buzz Miller became president and CEO of the company. The company has consolidated all operations to under one roof at its original location in San Antonio. “Allen & Allen still holds true to the business strategy that we are a specialty company that specializes in quality, upscale lumber, hardware, plumbing and window products,” says Miller. “We continue to learn and be open to learn new methods of doing things and embrace new technology.”

Multiple divisions

In a competitive industry such as construction, diversification is a key factor to excelling in the business world. The numerous products and services provided by Allen & Allen have allowed the company to not only survive for 84 years, but to thrive as well. “We have a broad inventory and diversification but we also have the people with the expertise in those areas as well,” says Miller. “People have the option to buy these products anywhere they want and it’s our people and the relationships we have established that has created as place where customers know they can trust us to take care of their needs.”

As a niche offering, the millwork division at Allen & Allen has been a driving force for the company in staying ahead of the competition. “Not everybody has a millwork division so we get involved in a lot restoration and historical work, “Miller explains. “People will come in with a profile or molding pattern that they need and we can do it all right here.”

In addition, the window division at Allen & Allen has also been busy. “With a lot of these big homes that we work with, the homeowners want a lot of glass,” says Miller. The company has recently started featuring a new line of window glass products from a company called Reynaers Inc., a European firm that has recently entered the United States market with a location in Phoenix. “They work on projects all over the world and have asked us to be a distributor for them.”

Moving up

Miller Joined Allen & Allen in 1977 as a lumber salesman. As he moved up the ranks of the company from outside sales to general manager, Miller worked hand in hand with Knight to handle customer needs and business development. Miller credits his success to his willingness to diversify. “You’ve got to continue to learn in this industry,” says Miller. “You can’t get complacent. We are much more efficient today because our software and technology. People are using the Internet to research products so you have to know your inventory well. We utilize all of our technology; the iPads, cell phones, laptops and software. It keeps us all sharp because nowadays customers want quick turnaround.”

From the architectural hardware division to the millwork department, Miller attributes the company’s success to its employees. With its longest employee tenure near 50 years, Allen & Allen has witnessed generations of families under its employ. “We have great employees,” says Miller. “There are people that we hired through a work program when they were still in high school and have been with us for more than 30 years.

As Allen & Allen progresses into the future, Miller expects the company to maintain steady growth while continuing to embrace new technology. “We had a good learning experience when we went through the recession,” says Miller. “As long as we have great people like we do, we’ll be able to weather any storm.”

Allen & Allen Company continues to innovate and provide integrative solutions to the lumber and hardware supply business.

Published on: August 4, 2015

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