Retail Beacon Award: Bartlett’s Lumber & Hardware
By Chris Jensen
Community involvement isn’t just a catchphrase or feel-good sentiment for Bartlett’s Lumber & Hardware, which was founded by Bill Bartlett in 1937. For his son Terrill Bartlett, who runs the business today with 10 locations spread across the Texas Panhandle, supporting the community is more than just empty platitudes; it’s putting words into action.
Bartlett’s Lumber & Hardware includes 10 locations across the Texas Panhandle.»
Being involved in the community means helping customers navigate the extreme weather that can sometimes cross the Texas Panhandle. “Anytime there is a storm in one of our communities, we donate the equipment and our employees donate their time to help clean up,” says Terrill, who along with several employees are volunteers with their local fire departments and EMS units.
“When they are dispatched to an incident, we keep them clocked in,” he adds. “We want our employees involved in the community, so we remove as many barriers to that as we can.”
Terrill Bartlett, second-generation owner of Bartlett’s Lumber & Hardware, grew up working in the business.»
In March 2017, several counties around Canadian—where Bartlett’s general office and distribution center are located—suffered property and personal damage from a 300,000-acre grass fire. It was especially painful for Bartlett’s as they lost an employee who was trying to get home to his pregnant wife.
The company donated over $100,000 to area ranchers and fire departments that suffered losses during the fire. In 2020, the Meals on Wheels facility in Shamrock, Texas, burned down and Bartlett’s donated materials to have it rebuilt.
“Obviously, life in small rural communities is different from larger cities. Everyone knows everybody and you feel compelled to be a part of that community. We have been very blessed and are always happy to assist when the need arises,” Terrill says.
Bartlett’s partners with Red Brand to help support and donate to the local chapters of the FFA (Future Farmers of America) organization.
Bartlett’s main store is in Canadian, Texas, which is where the company’s general office and distribution center are located.»
Sales on the Upswing
Bartlett’s continues to set new sales records each year, with sales up 21 percent last year. The stores are neat, clean and easy-to-navigate, allowing customers to find what they need, with free in-town delivery provided. “We carry a lot of farm and ranch clothing and boots to serve our customers,” says Terrill.
Farm and ranch is a big category for Bartlett’s, which recently expanded into feed for farm animals. Other top niche categories include fire-retardant clothing and irrigation supplies. “We have a lot of contractor and commercial sales, but most is still DIY business,” according to Terrill.
Farm and ranch is a dominant category at Bartlett’s.»
Bartlett’s has used technology to enhance the customer’s shopping experience. “We use tablets with remote access to our main point-of-sale system, which allows us to create customer quotes, purchase orders and sales transactions remotely,” Terrill points out.
They have an extensive e-commerce section on their website that includes an e-catalog, product selection guide, buying guides and a project center to guide customers in choosing the right products for their project.
Bartlett’s implemented buy online, pickup in store during COVID. They launched a mobile app, ProLink, that gives customers on-demand access to place orders, submit quotes, find account information and check delivery or pickup status.
Paint is a top-selling category for Bartlett’s 10 stores, which attract more DIY than pro sales.»
Bartlett’s store in Dalhart features a prominent checkout and customer service counter.»
Taking Care of Employees
Bartlett’s care for the community is seen in the way it treats its employees. The company has about100 employees, with many joining the team and not leaving until they retire. It is one of the few retailers that has not had any problems with staffing or hiring during the pandemic.
Terrill learned an important retail lesson from his father. “He always said that if you take care of your employees and your customers, everything else will fall into place and that is very true. Happy employees create happy customers,” he points out.
“We strive to make sure everyone is treated and paid fairly,” says Terrill. “We compensate our employees that take the NRHA training programs, and we have an extensive employee training and safety program.”
Terrill grew up working in the business along with his brother Tom, who retired several years ago. “We communicated well with each other and we always knew of any difficulties the other one was having. We also agreed to never make any major decision that we did not both agree on. If we did not agree we would put it on the shelf and come back to it later,” Terrill says.
Now Terrill’s sons Coleman and Bryan represent the third generation of the family. Coleman’s main responsibility is watching over margins and inventory, while Bryan oversees the IT department, which has grown a lot over the years.
A new location opened in Perryton in January 2020 with double the sales space.»
Opening New Stores
Bartlett’s Spearman store that opened in 2013 was a former car dealership, and they reconfigured the service bay area into a 25,000-square-foot drive-thru lumberyard with a mezzanine storage space. They have now converted four stores to drive-through lumberyards.
Bartlett’s opened a new location in Perryton in January 2020 with double the sales floor space, but the pandemic forced them to wait a year to hold a grand opening in May. “The new store is doing well,” Terrill says. “The grand opening was a huge success, but it was due in large part to the fact that people were anxious to get out and gather somewhere to experience an event that felt normal again.”
They have also started construction on a new store in Pampa to replace an older one and it will be modeled after the one they built in Perryton.
Bartlett’s store in Wellington was voted Best Hardware Store.»
“Orgill has a very reliable distribution program, strong rebate and advertising programs and they help a lot with e-commerce,” says Terrill. “But the one thing that really sets them apart is our sales rep, Kerry Rosson. Kerry will suggest new products, but only to the extent that he feels it will help the store. If he feels that it’s not a good fit, then he will tell you. He helps set up new products and suggests changes that can help the store’s visual appeal. He has been Orgill’s biggest asset for us.”
“We feel very honored to have won the Beacon Award, but we also recognize it would not have been possible without God’s blessings and our dedicated employees. This award is a testament to them,” says Terrill.
The Spearman store that opened in 2013 was a former car dealership, with the service bay area reconfigured into a 25,000-square-foot drive-thru lumberyard. »