After 100 Years, Bloedorn Lumber Stays True to its Roots

September 4th, 2019 by Sam Silverstein

The managers at one of Bloedern’s many facilities.

Even as Bloedorn Lumber Co. has grown over the past century—from a pair of rural Wyoming lumberyards into a regional home improvement chain with 23 stores in four Western states—officials say the company has maintained a sharp focus on the individual communities where it does business.

Rather than being dictated by the corporate office, every Bloedorn Lumber store has the freedom to determine the range of products it carries. The company, which is celebrating its centennial anniversary this year, also encourages its employees to get involved with local events and business groups as a means for getting connected with customers.

“We rely on our suppliers to let us know what’s new, and we talk to our customers to see what they think” before deciding what to sell, said Kent Yung, Bloedorn Lumber’s director of purchasing. “We do this on a store-by-store basis. It gives us the ability to know what the community wants. We want to focus on what people want us to have in stock.”

That dedication to the individual tastes and needs of each area’s residents plays a key role in how the company manages its operations as a door and window distributor. By tailoring its inventory to what local buyers want, the Torrington, Wyo.-based business is better able to let people see and touch the actual products they’re interested in, rather than asking them to rely on printed specifications, Yung said.

“It’s more about selling the sizzle of the steak than selling the steak [itself],” he added.

In addition, connecting with potential customers on a personal level—even before they enter a store—often makes it easier for employees to explain why a more expensive door or window could be worth the extra money, Yung said.

“Buying a new window or door can be a lifetime investment, and it’s important in my opinion that [a customer] gets a better quality door or window, because they’ll see the effect [of that decision] many years down the road,” said Yung, who has worked for Bloedorn since 1984. But, he added, “if a customer comes in and just wants a window to plug a hole, we’ll sell it to them.”

According to the company’s website, Bloedorn Lumber was founded on April 21, 1919, just a few months after the end of World War I, when the Bloedorn family opened Torrington Lumber and Coal Co. Operating from lumber yards in Torrington and the adjoining town of Lingle, Wyo., northeast of Cheyenne, Wyo., the state capital, Bloedorn established itself as a supplier of wood in the two communities and beyond.

As Bloedorn Lumber expanded, it evolved from focusing on items for use on farms and ranches to placing greater emphasis on items intended for homes, like electrical materials, plumbing equipment and kitchen cabinets. The company, which runs retail stores in Colorado, Montana, Nebraska and Wyoming, as well as three truss factories, has about 325 employees, according to its Facebook page.

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