Case Studies

Burton Lumber & Hardware Co.

The Contractor's Choice for Building Supplies

A member of the fifth generation of family ownership for his company, Mark Burton, director of operations for Burton Lumber & Hardware Co. (Burton Lumber), says the most meaningful part of his position is being a part of a long-lasting family legacy. “My great-great-great-grandfather started Burton Lumber back in 1911,” he reveals. “We celebrated our 100-year anniversary just a couple of years ago.”

Based in Salt Lake City, Burton Lumber takes pride in offering a range of state-of-the-art building materials and supplies, including interior and exterior doors, fireplaces, trusses and much more. “We’re a professional dealer of a variety of top brands and products,” shares Mark. “We are pretty much exclusively contractor-based, but we also do a small amount of retail, as well.”

Although Burton Lumber’s home base is in Salt Lake City, the company operates six other locations throughout Utah. “We have about 360 employees, including an expert sales staff of about 22 people,” notes Mark. “We have a lot of customers that do out-of-state business. We’ve easily shipped to 20 of the lower 48 states. We also just opened a new tress plant in St. George, Utah, about six months ago.”

Growing and Remaining Grounded

The company has grown and expanded over the years from the original store that was part of Robert T. Burton’s farm, which the family acquired in the early 1900s after traveling to Salt Lake Valley as a pioneer. Mark is proud to note that Burton Lumber’s first deliveries were made via horse and wagon from its single store.

In 1939 Burton Lumber’s first store suffered from a fire and economic setbacks as a result of World War II. This made for big challenges for the small company. However, by 1966 the company made a comeback, building a new, more modern lumber and hardware store in place of the original and an additional facility in the Olympus/Holladay, Utah area.

In 1975 Burton Lumber’s Salt Lake City door shop opened and started out as a two-person operation from a small shed behind the main State Street location. With business booming over several decades, the company decided to relocate the door shop to a larger facility in 1998.

Burton Lumber’s next big step was the purchase of a 200,000-square-foot site and 32 acres of land near the Salt Lake City International Airport. With the new facility and the State Street yard, door shop and truss plant, the company was able to respond to an increasingly high demand for building materials.

Valuable Relationships

Although Burton Lumber has grown significantly over the past century, the company remains true to family values and invaluable service to the community while operating a fun place to work. “We’ve always had a loyal customer following and dedicated, tenured employees,” explains Mark. “We’re good at maintaining the accounts we have and drumming up more business along the way.”

Mark notes that it is strong relationships that have carried the company so far. “About 75 percent of our purchases are through one distributor and the rest come from a handful of others,” he shares. “About 90 percent of the time we’re working with the same three to four wholesalers, because we have good alliances with a select few.”

With a set network of suppliers and wholesalers, Burton Lumber delivers a wide range of products and services. The company operates two full-service truss divisions, where it designs, engineers, manufactures and delivers any truss or floor package. In addition, Burton Lumber manufactures a variety of door shapes, sizes and styles, including garage doors. “We also maintain installation and delivery divisions,” he shares. “From commercial finish materials to flatbed pickups and tractor trailer deliveries.”

Mark admits the economic downturn has forced the company to offer more than just a quality product, but also installation expertise. “Before the downturn, contractors were performing their own labor,” he says. “Now they’re looking for people like us to provide framing and finishing. We’ve had to adapt to form installation service within our product lines; that’s been the biggest challenge as we climb out of the deficit.”

However, Mark and the team remain optimistic. “The market is substantially better,” continues Mark. “We’re up about 35 percent this year, much more than other years past. We’ve seen an increase in all segments of our business, from engineered products to finished goods; thankfully, there’s been growth overall.”

After 15 years with Burton Lumber, Mark hopes to see the family-run business continue on a path of successful service. “I joined the company right out of college,” shares Mark. “This is really the only full-time job I’ve ever had. I think if we keep on the pace we are now, things will go well. Life is good.”

Burton Lumber has supplied numerous homes, subdivisions, commercial buildings, churches and other buildings throughout the state with care and dedication. For more than 100 years Burton Lumber & Hardware Co. has offered reliable building materials and service, supporting communities throughout Utah, and Mark will continue the tradition.

Published on: January 10, 2014

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