Case Studies

Moscow Building Supply: Hardware and More

  • Written by: Moscow Building Supply: Hardware and More
  • Produced by: Moscow Building Supply: Hardware and More
  • Estimated reading time: 4 mins

Pat Garrett started working at Moscow Building Supply (MBS) at the age of 10, sweeping floors and stacking lumber. As Garrett grew older, he continued working for MBS in retail and delivery, gaining product and industry familiarity. “Ray Bugh, a friend of the family, owned the business,” explains Garrett. Garrett worked with MBS through high school before attending the University of Idaho and earning a business degree.

After college Garrett worked for a number of years with Copeland Lumber, training and establishing management experience along the West Coast. Garrett returned to Moscow in 1988 to fulfill his agreement with Ray. He purchased the business and transferred ownership in 1993. Garrett now operates two retail facilities with a second location in Pullman, Wash., which he acquired in 1996.

MBS has grown significantly since Garrett took ownership. “We were just a small contractor yard,” he explains. However, that didn’t last long. In 2002 MBS expanded into a 28,000-square foot retail store with a 65,000-square foot drive-thru covered warehouse. Over the years Garrett has molded MBS to become the leading home center and contractor supply yard in the Moscow and Pullman area.

Building Relationships

The success of MBS, Garret explains, depends almost entirely on the team’s relationships with suppliers and customers. “We’re very customer service oriented,” he says. “We always strive to put the customer first, ahead of all other matters of business.”

The Moscow location serves as the central corporate office, where Garrett and his sales team make essential purchasing and product decisions. The team attends numerous buying shows yearly to keep up on trends and also explore new home improvement and construction products and processes. Garrett is continually investing in new ways to grow MBS, as he joined DoItBest Corp., a member-owned co-op, in 1998. “DoItBest has helped me make the right moves at the right times to grow our business,” he explains.

Garrett is a member of a DoItBest roundtable, which he says allows a group of 20 businesses to share ideas and help each other out. “The round table has greatly helped me make critical decisions more timely and accurately by working closely with similar businesses that are not concerned about sharing their financial and personal data because we do not compete directly with one another, rather we feel we are all on the same team,” he explains.

The additional input has allowed the company to continue with success after success. MBS offers customers a wide variety of products and services to local contractors and retail customers looking for a more personal experience than what is offered by big-box stores. At MBS a team of familiar faces work to put together bids, review plans, ensuring quality material and tools for multiple applications. MBS also has many seasonal offerings, ranging from a full nursery, patio and barbecue supplies, pottery, a stove shop, clothing, lawn equipment, snow blowers and Christmas decorations. “Our garden center is a big draw,” says Garrett. “In the winter we use it to display our big Christmas spread.”

Community Connections

According to Garrett, MBS has definitely felt pressure resulting from the economic downturn and ensuing construction bust, but regionally the market is starting to come around. “We have 110 employees right now, but at our peak we had around 165,” Garrett explains. “Our employee-count reflects the decrease in sales we’ve seen with the economic decline, but we’re back on the rise.”

Garrett saw a large return of commercial construction projects to the region in 2012. “We’re supplying a few big commercial projects right now,” he says. “There are a lot of multifamily housing projects and hotels going up. It’s a good sign. It tends to happen that when the commercial market grows, the residential market follows. We’re hoping to see that demand come back next.”

MBS’ main role in numerous projects has been mostly as the supplier. Although Garrett says his team also enters into subcontract work, such as installing insulation, stoves and cabinets. Contractors can also choose to rent equipment through MBS’ large fleet of rental equipment, which Garrett says “… has been a good portion of our recent business.”

On top of the team’s many talents, the company has even more to offer. MBS has an ongoing relationship with projects at the University of Idaho and Washington State University, which has campuses in Moscow and Pullman. Expansion projects are ongoing at each university, which both have faced challenges related to declining funding and enrollment over the last few years.

“In order to keep competing they need to bring in more students,” explains Garrett. If the expansion work is successful in attracting a larger student body, MBS could benefit from future work at both universities. “If enrollment goes up, they’re going to need more student housing and maintenance,” he continues. “That would mean greater potential for revenue on our end.”

Garrett recognizes the mutual benefits of extending good business practices to his customers, a quality he implants in the MBS staff. This important, yet often forgotten, attribute allows MBS to continue growing along with the Pullman location. The team insists on growth only on responsible and steady terms, while keeping the focus on customer service. Moscow Building Supply will continue to offer diverse products at competitive prices and serving contractors and homeowners with integrity in Idaho and Washington for years to come.

Published on: March 16, 2013

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