Case Studies

Heartland Building Center Inc.

A family-owned building supply company

For more than 100 years Heartland Building Center has been providing building materials to contractors in the Midwest. Headquartered in Hays, Kansas, Heartland has two additional locations in Russell and Stockton. The company also maintains a truss plant in Hays as well.

Founded in 1892, as Schwaller Lumber Company, the business was eventually partially purchased by Curt Pfannenstiel.  His business partner is his father who had previously bought into the company. “My father started as a bookkeeper for Schwaller and was then offered part ownership,” says Pfannenstiel. “He eventually bought the entire company and then 14 years ago I bought into it as well.”

Pfannenstiel has been with Heartland for 34 years. Starting with the company while still in high school, he became a manager of one of the company’s locations after graduating college. “I eventually came back to Hays and worked in different positions throughout the store until I bought into the company,” recalls Pfannenstiel.

The company’s market consists of 80 percent contractors with the remaining 20 comprised of walk-in traffic and homeowners completing their own projects. “A lot of our walk-in customers are people building their own garages or installing their own roofs,” says Pfannenstiel. “Sometimes they’re people who teach school during the year and then do contracting in the summer.”

Heartland provides all products associated with construction with the exception of flooring. “The only reason we don’t do flooring is because we don’t have any room for it,” explains Pfannenstiel. “We have paint, hardware, plumbing, electrical, power tools fireplaces, kitchen and bath, windows, doors, shingles, all the lumber and commodity type items.”

A step above the rest

The customer service that Heartland provides is what Pfannenstiel says sets his company apart. “With the knowledge and experience that our employees have, we can react faster when it comes to deliveries than anybody else,” Pfannenstiel explains. “Whenever a customer orders something, they’re not waiting a day or longer to get it. Depending on the size of the order, it usually will be delivered within hours.” With 60 employees, Heartland has maintained strong employee retention. The company has four employees who have been with Heartland for 40-plus years, five for more than 30 years and four for more than 20. “Our customers often mention how much they enjoy seeing the same faces in here year in and year out.”

Heartland Building Center Inc.

The atmosphere that Heartland creates for its customers as well as it employees is a friendly, family-oriented environment. “We make sure to be very attentive right away,” says Pfannenstiel. “As one of the owners of this company I want my employees to be able to spend time with their families. We encourage them to go to their children’s school functions and sporting events. We’re not open on Sundays for that reason.”

Heartland maintains a solid fleet of trucks at all of its locations, with deliveries made up to 90 miles away from each store. “We have four semi-tractor trailers,” says Pfannenstiel. “The two smaller locations each have a 2-ton 18-foot truck, a 1-ton and a pickup. Here at the headquarters we have four 2-ton 18-foot trucks, two 1 1/2-ton trucks, two 1-ton trucks, two pickups and three enclosed trailers.”

Truss plant services

At the Heartland’s Truss Plant in Hays, the company provides customers with a full-line truss design and manufacturing facility. Heartlands truss designers use software that satisfies virtually any aesthetic and functional specification by the building design professional. The company’s roof and floor truss designs are fully engineered and stamped by licensed engineers, assuring code compliance and structural integrity. “Our customers receive a product that meets nationally recognized standards for truss design and manufacturing of metal plate connected wood trusses,” says Pfannenstiel.

The truss plant staff provides customers with a variety of pre-fabricated products which are stored within the facility. Among the services offered are the production of engineered wood roof and floor trusses, producing post-formed kitchen countertops, pre-hanging interior and exterior door units, and ready-made yard sheds. All of these services are performed in-house, providing customers with quality and flexibility to meet building project needs.

Working with the contractors on a regular basis and being appreciated for the work that his company does is one of Pfannenstiels favorite aspects of the job. “Witnessing the achievements of the contractors and being a part of the work that is completed means a lot,” says Pfannenstiel. “When they come back and express that appreciation to us it really makes our work very meaningful.”

In the next couple of years, Heartland will be expanding its market share by way of an increased geographical footprint. With locations in Western Kansas, the opportunity is present for the company to broaden its reach and acquire new markets, without the addition of new locations.

While Heartland Building Center Inc. expands it will keep customer service its top priority, while maintaining a family atmosphere for its employees. 

Published on: November 3, 2015

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