Case Studies

The Parr Company: Building Relationships and Community for 83 Years

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The Parr Company has been doing business for an impressive 83 years. The Hillsboro, Ore.-based building materials retailer services professional contractors and homeowners across its home state, providing quality service, competitive pricing and a wide range of products. Over the course of many successful years in business, the company has earned its ranking as the No. 18 largest building materials supplier in the nation.

The all-encompassing designation The Parr Company consists of six distinct companies that provide building solutions and services: Parr Lumber Company (Parr Lumber), Parr Cabinet Design Center, Cascade Wholesale Hardware, Northwest Structural Components (NSC), Northwest Structural Components Installation (NSCI) and Parr Marketing Group.

Established in 1930 by Dwight Parr Sr., Parr Lumber originated with one lumberyard in Vancouver, Wash. Dwight Sr. eventually moved the business to its current location on Martin Luther King Blvd. Parr Lumber remains a family-owned and -operated enterprise, currently run by the third generation of Parrs, as Dwight Sr. passed his legacy onto his six grandchildren. Of those six, three are still actively involved in the company’s operations: Mike Parr, general manager of Parr Lumber; Nancy Cranston, marketing manager; and Brad Farmer.

Although the Parr clan runs the company, its employees might as well be family. “What sets us apart is the longevity of our employees,” explains Mike. With about 550 employees, the Parr Company’s average tenure is about 14 years, and some have been with the company for over 45. “We are lucky to have an extremely loyal employee base,” shares Nancy. The talented staff allows the company to service a wide area of the Pacific Northwest.

Parr Lumber has 22 lumberyard locations, along with a truss floor plant and six cabinet design centers throughout Oregon, Washington and Arizona. Operating primarily as a retail distributor, Parr Lumber does about 85 percent of its business with customer builders, contractors and remodelers, the other 15 percent consisting of do-it-yourself homeowner projects.

A Product for Every Project

Parr Lumber has a solution for any number of projects. The retailer carries everything from decking to fencing, doors and millwork to cabinets and appliances, hardware and tools to windows and skylights, along with siding and trim and a vast supply of lumber and building products. “We’re constantly getting new products from vendors and local sources,” details Nancy. “We’re usually able to get almost anything.”

In addition to the thousands of items the company stocks, the staff will order custom products to tailor-fit any customer’s need. The sales team at Parr Lumber attends ongoing training focusing on product knowledge and the latest industry trends, helping better serve customers. Parr Lumber’s website also offers links to quick project quotes and estimates and an “ask the experts” feature.

Part of providing a wide array of products is developing trusted relations with vendors. “We definitely have a network of vendors who supply us regularly,” explains Nancy. “They are critical in our success.” Parr Lumber has turned around, and given a great deal of this success back to the local community.

Paying It Forward

Parr Lumber has built a reputation as a company who cares about the community, partnering with national and local organizations to make a positive impact. In January 2012 the company teamed with Habitat for Humanity to build and donate materials for a family’s new home.

“We also work with the Ronald McDonald house,” shares Nancy. “We’ve been working with them for many years.” Parr Lumber also supports smaller local efforts. The company often supplies materials to First Story, a small organization similar to Habitat for Humanity in Bend, Ore.

Parr Lumber contributes to the local autism society and Bridge Meadows, which helps build subsidized housing for foster children who have been recently adopted by families. “Our main focus is to help with anything to do with kids,” details Nancy. “We’re constantly giving out fundraising items.”

Parr Lumber doesn’t hesitate to help when it can. “We have people who come to our yards and ask for donations and supplies,” explains Nancy. “This year Parr, along with International Wood Products, will be doing a lot of work with the Wounded Warrior Project. We’ve also done some projects for veteran’s homes in the past.”

Eighty-three years of success doesn’t come without some hardship. Over the past few years, the recession has lead Parr Lumber to consolidate locations. “There were about five additional stores that were in such close proximity to other locations it just didn’t make sense to keep them all,” explains Nancy. “We had to cut back to survive.”

Cutting back meant also cutting back staff. For a company that values its employees and where many stay for years and years, Nancy shares how difficult it was to lay people off. “The biggest challenge was to let go of good, hardworking people,” she says. “We also had to cut back on some benefits, but with the recent economic improvement most of these have recently been restored.”

Despite economic hardship, Parr Lumber has adapted and survived. The next step is the fourth-generation Parr family beginning to integrate into the business. Continuing the family legacy, serving a loyal customer base, community involvement and providing a good place to work for valued employees is what matters most to those at The Parr Company.

Published on: June 29, 2013

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