Bernard-Daniels Celebrates 100 Years of Building Business
CANFIELD, Ohio – At the start of construction season, Mike Young ran out of plywood while building a family-room addition onto a home.
Young, owner of Mike Young Construction in Berlin Center, called Bernard-Daniels Lumber Co. and asked for a same-day delivery.
He was told that all the truck drivers were busy delivering to other sites. But Bernard-Daniels’ general manager Mike Lehnerd would load his personal truck and make the delivery himself within a couple hours.
“I’ve been in business for almost 30 years and you don’t find service anywhere else like Bernard-Daniels provides,” Young says. “I tell them, ‘You make my little company run easier because of what you do for me.’ ”
Lehnerd says, “If we can do it, we do it. The salesmen will drive the truck if they have to and that’s what separates us.”
Customer service has been the lumber company’s modus operandi since it was founded a century ago.
“It started as a lumber company supplying home builders,” says Tom Paranzino, owner of Bernard-Daniels Lumber since 2005. “My great-uncles, my grandfather, my great-grandfather, they all built homes in Youngstown and Bernard Lumber was the place to go.”
Founded in 1918 as Bernard Lumber Co., the company spent its first decade on Wilson Avenue in Youngstown, before moving to Albert Street on the East Side, where it remained for 50 years.
Following a fire at the lumberyard in 1979, Paul Daniels, one of Bernard’s great-grandchildren, took over the company and moved it to its current home, 250 Railroad St. in Canfield.
When Daniels was looking to retire, he called Paranzino, who also owns Paranzino Auctioneers in North Lima, which specializes in auctioning building materials from lumberyards. But rather than auctioning the company’s inventory – Paranzino says he could have made more than $200,000 – he decided to buy Bernard-Daniels.
“I didn’t want 17 people to lose their jobs,” he says. “I agreed to buy it against all odds in the building industry. This is where you let your passion get in front of your business sense.”
Since the purchase, Bernard-Daniels Lumber has generated between $7 million and $10 million in sales annually and still employs 17. This year, it is celebrating 100 years in business.
“It was slow in ’05 and ’06 and, ironically, by 2009 we had started seeing our best years,” Paranzino says. “Usually when the economy is in a downturn, Bernard-Daniels does well because we sell our stuff at a discount.”
Bernard-Daniels sells closeout items from name-brand wholesalers. Among the products are pole barns, lumber, building materials, decking, railing, doors, windows, flooring, kitchen cabinets, bath vanities, tools and hardware. Its inventory sits in the company’s 103,000-square-foot building, which is open to the public.
“It was the perfect fit because my auction company liquidates building materials for major manufacturers,” Paranzino says. “So we sell for all the major brand names in the country.”
One of its most popular materials are Andersen Windows & Doors, with over 3,000 in stock.
“We’re probably one of the largest stocking dealers in the country,” he says. “No dealers stock Andersen windows anymore because now they order them and wait three weeks for them to come in. If someone is doing a remodeling job and needs windows immediately, they can come here and pick them up.”
A sticker on one of the Andersen windows states the list price as $609, but Bernard-Daniels’ price is $245.
“If you could use six windows here out of the 15 windows that are going into your house, you could possibly save yourself $2,000 to $3,000 on the window order,” Paranzino says.
Low prices for closeout materials helped the business grow as customers – homeowners and construction companies – from across the country are ordering materials online to be shipped to them.
“If we were to go to Andersen dealers on either of the coasts they would be selling that window for $609,” Paranzino says. “The market in Ohio has been so competitive through the years that we’ve all beaten each other down to a small profit between 8% and 12%.”
Bernard-Daniels buys most of its Andersen products through Paranzino Auctioneers, to which Andersen liquidates its excess materials.
One of Bernard-Daniels’ regular customers is Jeff Peddicord, owner of Peddicord Construction in New Waterford. He’s made the 30-minute drive to Bernard-Daniels at least twice a week for 10 years.
“I have other lumber yards closer, but their prices are better and their lumber is better,” Peddicord says. “They’ve always treated me good.”
On the company’s seven-acre site are a couple of buildings dedicated to storing lumber and plywood. Sometimes they are stocked so full that there’s no room save for a small path down the center.
Now, however, the buildings are holding just enough lumber to meet the supply needed by its customers.
“The lumber price for the last four to six months has been really high,” Paranzino explains. “We pay attention to where lumber is going two to three months ahead before we do any buying. We know our [lumber] futures are going down in September and October. We wait for the price to get really low and once we feel it’s low enough we’ll buy huge volumes.”
The highs cost of lumber is attributed to severe hurricanes last year and the anticipation that homebuilding was going to increase when President Donald Trump got elected. Since housing starts aren’t as high as predicted, lumber prices will soon drop, Paranzino says.
He recalls what Paul Daniels taught him when he bought the business.
“Build big buildings because when the price goes down, these are better than the stock market,” he says Daniels advised him. “If you stock up on lumber and keep it controlled to where it’s not going to go bad, eventually you can sell for a lesser price than all your competitors.”
Affordability is why Martin Linton, owner of Quality A Garage in Youngstown, has purchased his lumber from Bernard-Daniels for 15 years.
“I buy as much as I possibly can from them,” Linton says. “Their service is fantastic and the guys in the yard and the delivery drivers are very knowledgeable.”
Linton says the company is different from big-box chain stores, such as Home Depot, because when he calls to ask questions, any employee he talks to can help him immediately.
Robert Monske, one of the sales representatives at Bernard-Daniels who frequently receives such calls, says knowledge about the products come from experience. “We learn the tricks of the trade and what works and what doesn’t work,” he says. “It’s from years of being in the field.”
Monske has worked at Bernard-Daniels 13 years. Before that, he worked at Carter Lumber, a regional chain with more than 120 stores.
“The options you have here on places to order from is greater, whereas at a chain you’re stuck to ordering from one place,” he says.“There’s more freedom here.”
As an auctioneer, Paranzino jokes, it would be easy to sell the company off within two weeks. But now, 13 years after he took over the Canfield lumberyard, he has developed a passion for the business.
“We have no intention of going anywhere,” he says. “We’re one of the biggest independent yards left in the area. We’ll keep going for hopefully another 100 years.”
Pictured: Tom Paranzino, who also owns Paranzino Auctioneers, purchased the lumber company in 2005.
Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.
Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.
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