Larry Huot, president of LaValley Building Supply, has been with the company started by his in-laws since 1975.
LaValley Building Supply
LaValley Building Supply was founded in New Hampshire in 1962 by Harold and Gerry LaValley, who are still active. The company is one of the largest family-owned building materials companies in the U.S. It offers customers a one-stop shop for all of their building needs with 12 locations.
LaValley also operates one of the largest eastern white pine sawmills in New England along with dry kilns, planing and resaw operations, as well as truss and wall panel fabrication, a custom modular home division and a paint and decorating center.
This location in Claremont, N.H., which was acquired in 1975, dates back to 1902, making it a member of the Century Club.
They utilize a fleet of delivery vehicles, some of which offer specialty services such as cable cranes.
Larry Huot and his wife Nancy are principal stock owners of the company started by her parents. Larry, who has worked for the company since 1975, serves as president. The third generation of the family is now involved in the business.
FOCUS ON INNOVATION
They utilize a fleet of delivery vehicles, some of which offer specialty services. As Huot explains, “If we build a truss and deliver on our own cable cranes, our drivers are seasoned and can assist on the jobsite. This ensures quality and timeliness.”
The company has always strived to be an innovator and has done so first in truss manufacturing and then in pre-panelized wall building, which helps framing go up quicker and protects from the elements.
Larry Huot has been steering LaValley Building Supply with a steady hand through volatility and changing market conditions for nearly half a century.
“Instead of waiting for a distant manufacturer, we handle it all in-house. All pickups and delivery are handled by us. If we build the truss and deliver on our own cable cranes and our drivers are seasoned, they become an assist to the jobsite. This also ensures quality and timeliness—it’s about control,” Huot explains.
The modular home division began in 2006 and endeavors to streamline the process of new construction while creating energy-efficient homes at lower costs. “The idea is to bring quality systems to our communities, builders and consumers that save time, reduce risk and create successful, high-quality projects with reliable consistency,” he says. “We can deliver it to the jobsite 85 percent finished.”
The company consists of 12 home improvement centers that are one-stop shops for all building needs, plus a paint and decorating center.
Their eastern white pine sawmill, known as DiPrizio Pine Sales, is also a unique advantage with deep roots in timber-rich New Hampshire, according to Huot. It annually processes 18 to 20 million board feet for paneling, siding, trim and timbers. “The DiPrizio family started the sawmill in 1938 and we bought it in 1993. Now we sell pine all over the country,” he says.
Annual sales at the full-service lumberyards range from $6 million up to $36 million. In 2021, company sales increased 23 percent and gross margin dollars rose 24 percent. LaValley sold 12,000 tons of wood pellets in 2021, which is over 400 tractor truckloads.
LaValley Building Supply follows a dual-path strategy, generating 70 percent of sales from contractors and builders and 30 percent from d-i-yers. The company’s stores range in size from 8,000 up to 26,000 square feet and all feature showrooms for millwork, kitchen, bath and flooring staffed with specialists.
“Our desire is to have intrinsic interactions with our customers, not transactional,” Huot says. “We emphasize the value of knowing we are assisting our customers in a time of need and providing a satisfying customer experience. Customer experience and employee satisfaction is our purpose,” he adds.
LaValley recently signed up with Epicor for its 12 stores, and Huot says they are looking forward to learning how to use Epicor’s retail tools to operate more efficiently.
LaValley generates 70 percent of sales from builders and contractors.
The company has always supported a long list of local charities and organizations including local police and fire departments, hospitals, Habitat for Humanity, food banks, senior centers, youth programs and arts groups.
DEEP COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
The company is very active in the communities it serves. They support opera houses, a performing arts center, a playhouse, libraries, historical societies, rec centers, community newspapers, a women’s advocacy center, senior centers, housing for people in need, youth sports and recreation programs, Habitat for Humanity and local food banks. They sponsor local youths so they can attend YMCA camps. They donate to local fire departments and local health centers and hospitals including the Children’s Hospital in Dartmouth.
They organized a contractor golf tournament and raised $32,000 to assist in the aid and reconstruction of Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. “We believe that building strong communities is beneficial to everyone,” says Huot. “Ultimately, we are in the people business. Supporting our communities and providing not only our products, services and systems, but any additional aid, is important to us.”
Continuing education is stressed for LaValley’s 600 employees.
The company’s focus on people flows into the treatment of its 600 employees, many with over 20 years of service. Employees receive full benefits and access to a 401(k) company matching program. The company contributed $1 million to a profit-sharing retirement plan in 2022.
Continuing education through the in-house LaValley University training program and the freedom to make decisions brings a sense of ownership to employees and encourages exceptional engagement. Through LMC, LaValley has sent select employees to a masters program called Advancing Business Acumen through the Wharton Aresty Institute of Executive Education at the University of Pennsylvania.
“The people that come to work here have an opportunity to learn about anything from finance to distribution to administration,” he says. “Our employees are local, know most of the customers by name and take great ownership in their jobs.”
GROWTH THROUGH ACQUISITION
In 2018, LaValley acquired R.P. Williams, a family-owned yard in Bristol, New Hampshire. Most recently, they purchased Perkins Home Center in West Chesterfield, New Hampshire in December 2021. “We always have our eyes open, but we don’t believe in growth for growth’s sake. It has to fit our long-term geography,” Huot notes.
Orgill has been a fantastic partner, according to Huot. “Their breadth of goods and services is second to none. They understand a dealer’s business. We’ve been able to do expansions and not miss a beat. They spend a lot of time in our stores working with our purchasing group. Orgill’s reliability of delivery and personalized service is an asset,” he says.
Larry says they work on the basics every day. “We call it: what does winning look like? Getting the first sale is important, but our livelihood comes from repeat sales. If we’re going to be in a category we might as well be dominant. We’re constantly evaluating how we can be different,” he says.
Reflecting on what it means to win the Beacon Award, Huot says, “Every decade has volatility, but leaders push through and are steadfast. Winning the Beacon Award gives us a moment to look in the mirror and evaluate what our continued leadership is about and what we need to do to hold onto our legacy. We’re focused on what needs to be done next to be trusted by our customers. We are humbled and grateful, together with our employees, to develop long-lasting relationships while serving our customers and communities near and afar. You have to be appreciative and bold every day.”