Case Studies

Inland Builders Supply Inc.

Hardware with a heart in Blythe, Calif.

Robert B. Bayles founded Inland Builders Supply (IBS) in 1962 as a small, family-owned hardware store. Over the years, the small-town business has grown steadily. The company has outgrown three locations since Robert first opened the doors more than 50 years ago. Now, IBS is a household name in Blythe, Calif. Local customers count on the store for building supplies, hardware, equipment and home décor.

Arthur Bayles, Robert’s son and current president of OBS, has since taken over the company. He started his career as a metallurgical engineer and worked in the mining industry for 10 years before joining the family business. Arthur now oversees a staff of 48 employees. He claims to be retired, but can often be found at the store filling in and helping out. With more than 40 years at the company, he has grown familiar both with his products and his customers.

A small but diverse customer base

IBS serves a broad market, albeit small. “We don’t really have any local competition,” Arthur explains. “We are the only hardware store in town, so people come here instead of driving to Lowes or Home Depot. Blythe, Calif., is a small rural farm town, so we supply a little of everything.” Customers include do-it-yourselfers, professional contractors, local businesses, as well as public organizations. “We sell materials to the prison, government facilities, the city, the county, water patrol and fish and game to name a few,” Arthur elaborates.

The store offers lumber, building materials and hardware as the local home improvement store. Arthur and his team also operate a small nursery and a rental department to round out the company’s services and fulfill the needs of customers. Customers are welcome to come in and browse the aisles. While IBS is a hometown hardware store, the company hardly lacks in technological savvy.

The store’s website offers the option to order online. Many local customers, especially those with larger projects to complete, will order online and pick up items in the store. The inventory is all there, so whether a contractor is looking for a room’s worth of drywall or just a box of screws, everything can be found online and ordered ahead of time. The company’s online presence also helps when builders come in from out of town. Because the area is fairly isolated, contractors can browse the selection before making the trip. This allows professionals who are traveling to keep loads light, saving money on transportation costs as fuel prices rise.

A strong supplier

IBS has been built up over the years with a focus on customer demand. Arthur and his team are quick to adjust inventory to suit the market, although Arthur admits the scenery does not seem to change significantly.

“There isn’t much new I can think of,” he explains. “We do have a less common line of products specific to our area, though. We sell quite a bit of 911 products, which include clothing and apparel for law enforcement. We cater to border patrol as well as the local sheriff’s department.”

Arthur has no major plans for expansion, though he and his team are open to new opportunities. “We don’t have a lot of major projects in the area,” he notes. “A few years ago, however, there was a large solar project here in the Palo Verde Valley. We supplied the out of town contractors that came in to work on that. They utilized our online system, which was a big help.”

In order to keep the supply chain strong, Arthur and his team have developed strategic partnerships with a select network of suppliers. The business is affiliated with Ace Hardware and Orgill Distributors, two operations that specialize in supplying hardware and related accoutrement. Arthur purchases lumber and other building supplies from wholesalers based in Phoenix and Los Angeles.

A community feel

While home improvement and construction supply are the basis of the company, there are certain aspects Arthur takes extra pride in. “I really enjoy being a business owner,” he explains. “We have great employees and it is a pleasure to come to work with them. We also do a lot of work in our community.”

Over the years, IBS has made contributions, either in time or money, to several local and regional organizations that help out schools, churches and youth sports teams. These organizations include but are not limited to Palo Verde High School, the Blythe 4-H Club and the California Women of Agriculture.

Steady business is important, especially when it comes to being able to support the community. While IBS experienced a few rough years throughout the downturn, Arthur says things are looking up. The business is growing steadily as budgets loosen up. Arthur and his team at Inland Builders Supply Inc. are looking forward to new opportunities in business and the community over the coming years.

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