Golden State Lumber

By treating the customer as a partner, Golden State Lumber retains the philosophy on which the company was built back in 1954. With products such as lumber, hardware, doors, windows, fencing and insulation, Golden State Lumber services a range of customers from the everyday handyman to the big developer, but its main focus is on the professional builder. 

“They care about the quality of product that’s going into their projects, but one of the biggest things they’re looking for is service,” CEO Jessica Scerri says. “We’re always looking at how we can provide better service and value to customers. It’s all about knowing our customers, what they need and being able to give them that service. For them, it’s about how can we service them to make sure we’re saving them money.”

Scerri took over as CEO six years ago. Because her grandfather was the founder of the company, she spent much of her teen years working at Golden State Lumber during the summer. She went to school for film and theater, which was ultimately the wrong career choice for her. When she returned from college, uncertain of her career path, her father put her right back to work in his business. “I got hooked, which started my love for the business. I realized how wonderful our employees are and how great the industry is. That’s when I knew I wanted to eventually take over the business and do this forever.”

Starting from the ground up, entering data to managing one of the company’s distribution facilities, Scerri received on-the-job training and was prepared to take over when her father retired. One of her goals when she took over the company was to be ranked on the San Francisco Business Times’ “Best Places to Work in the Bay Area” list to prove that her team is loyal to the company and has a wealth of knowledge with which to service its customers. By fostering guidance and an openness with her team, the ranking has climbed from 14 out of 50 two years ago to six out of 50 in 2015.

 “It was a really great accomplishment,” Scerri says. “Telling the story of how wonderful our people are and how hard we strive to make this a really great place to work so that we can retain our employees is a personal goal of mine. That goes hand in hand with being able to service the customer and having the competitive advantage.”

Poised for Growth

Golden State Lumber is always looking to grow its reach, services and products. The company recently acquired a window and door shop to create custom products for customers. Thanks to its large clientele of custom homebuilders, the company has already seen the benefits of this facility.  

Because of booming window and door sales, the company also opened a new location in Richmond, Calif., about two years ago to distribute its entire inventory of doors and windows. This solved logistical issues the company had when shipping items out of its lumberyard because the products are fragile and a lot of time is needed to maneuver them onto the trucks for delivery amongst all the products in the yard. 

Additionally, Golden State Lumber bought a property in Concord, Calif., that it will build out as a new lumberyard, with a goal of opening in mid-2017. 

“We are looking forward to opening our new Concord facility,” Scerri says. “It’s an amazing, state-of-the-art facility. It has an indoor, drive-through lumberyard. There are a lot of these in the Midwest and East Coast for weather-related reasons, but these don’t exist much here. We’re excited to have this new facility to service our clientele.”

Golden State Lumber’s facility reach is wide in order to service its customers, which means another one of Scerri’s goals is to make the distribution process as seamless and efficient as possible. She’s working with the company’s vendors to create less lumberyard traffic in order to have more room for customers to get in and out to see the product offerings. With more efficiency, Golden State Lumber can deliver on its same-day or next-day deliveries. 

“We also have a slightly different array of products at all the different facilities,” Scerri explains. “We have a loop truck that goes to all of our facilities everyday. If someone wants something that we don’t have in the nearest facility to the customer, our truck can go get it that day from another facility. We rely on that tremendously for our customers.”

Family Feel

A couple of years ago, Scerri created an employee committee for Golden State Lumber. Annually, she handpicks a group of employees to be a part of this committee for one year and discuss procedures and processes for the company. Through ideas and feedback, Scerri is then able to implement employee ideas to improve the company. “It’s been really great because these are the people doing those jobs everyday and they know how to do it best.” 

An employee committee ties into Scerri’s approach as CEO. With her open-door policy for employees at all levels, she can retain employees and continue to foster Golden State Lumber as one of the best places to work. 

“I don’t think I got into this industry because of the lumber business; I got into it because of the people and that’s where I love focusing my time and making this a place where they really want to be and want to stay,” Scerri says. “Having that passion for what you’re doing and really being able to support each other, it defines us as family business. My family owns it, yes, but we’ve created a family here. I really think our employees feel that. No matter how big we get or how much we grow, I don’t want that family feeling to go away. I won’t grow bigger than northern California because I want to keep my arms around it and keep that feeling that makes us successful.” 

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