Month: May 2019

May 28, 2019

What is a great General Manager worth?


We were recently working to find the right General Manager for an LBM company that had a $20m location in the Southwest, serving general contractors in single-family new construction. The company started a satellite location, serving a market that was 90 miles away from the major metro market our client focused on serving. As a satellite location/market, the owner wanted a strong leader who could operate with full autonomy since the executive team needed to focus on their major metro business. This satellite location is in an underserved market, running with only an operations manager and dispatcher leading the team and needed a dedicated General Manager to grow. The owner and I believed with the right leadership, the location should drive $30m in sales and a 10% EBITDA in the first 2-3 years as a low-case financial benchmark.

As the owner honed his focus on the right candidate from the talent pool, he requested input on what the compensation package should be. He was struggling as this location is a standalone business, whereas their other locations operate together as a market. We asked our client to consider the following questions to determine the right compensation:

  • What are the compensation levels for the 7 candidates in the talent pool who have a proven history of success growing a location from $20m – $30m in sales, in a highly autonomous and entrepreneurial business model?
  • What is the competitive advantage of this location’s business model to gain and hold share on its own?
  • What level of influence will the right leader have over the profit of the location?
  • What is the key-person risk of the right General Manager? Retention planning is best done before you hire any professional.
  • What is the return on investment modeled out at varied tiers as the business grows?
  • What are the appropriate benchmarks for the General Manager to hit, making certain inventory, A/R and people are managed in a healthy way?

Our client found great comfort in the balance and forward-thinking elements of this process. The candidate we placed was excited to have an entrepreneurial opportunity to build a business and be rewarded for success.

The final step in this process, we reported the base and bonus compensation programs for 15 independent LBM businesses with a situation similar to our independent client company: $30m sales and 10% EBITDA.

The survey results:

The low-end: base salary of $100,000 and bonus of $75,000, $175,000 total. The high-end: base salary of $140,000 and bonus of $210,000, $350,000 total.

Top independent LBM companies’ base and bonus compensation ranged from $175,000 – $350,000. A difference of $175,000 between the independents.  

BMC: $135,000 base and $35,000 bonus, $170,000 total. (Bonus calculated by a region, not the P&L of the location.)

Builders FirstSource: $100,000 base and $35,000 regional compensation, $135,000 total. (Bonus calculated by a region, not the P&L of the location.)

84 Lumber: $70,000 base and $180,000 bonus, $250,000 total. (Half of the bonus calculated on gross margin goals, paid monthly and half on profit, A/R, inventory and safety.)

US LBM: $140,000 and 25%, $175,000 total. (Bonus calculated as a percent of base salary.)

The large national LBM dealers base and bonus compensation ranged from $135,000 to $250,000.

There is a difference of $215,000 from the low end of the national LBM dealers to the high end of the independent LBM dealers.

The compensation differences make complete sense: business models, the market and the type of talent needed are all highly variable. Focus on collecting the relevant facts and the actions needed will become self-evident.

The driving factors:

  • What is the competitive edge of the business model on its own, without the General Manager to attract talent and customers?
  • What resources in leadership, structure and training are the company providing?
  • What are the levels of entrepreneurial talent and autonomous experience expected from the General Manager?
  • What are the gaps in the business model the General Manager is expected to fill?
  • What is the competition offering this talent?
  • What does the talent want that the competition is not offering?

“While the right design is essential, it is only half the battle. It is equally important to put the right people in each of those positions.” – Ray Dalio, Principles: Life and Work

Owners/leaders: If you are pleased with the return on investment and profits on the bottom line, do not change anything. Well done being a great business builder! If not, focus your financial investment on getting the exact talent and skills needed. Remember, it all starts with the right leader. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the Misura Group team to learn more about our process and 1-year guarantee on excellent industry leaders.

“In life, you don’t get what you want. You get what you think you deserve.” – Teddy Roosevelt  

General Managers: Know your industry value! You will be spending 30,000 hours over the next 10 years of your life on work-related activities regardless. Make sure you know what you are worth and that you are valued for it. Reach out to our experienced Misura Group team to help you find great companies that value your talents.

Hire Smarter – Tony


May 13, 2019

How strategic are your General Managers?


Builders Millwork (BMI) is a $20M company headquartered in the heart of the Dairyland – Mondovi, WI. I first met Jerry Jehn, the owner, in 2008 walking into his office greeted by a life-size Wisconsin Bucky Badger Football player Fathead leaping off the wall. BMI is a great company with great people, providing architectural door and hardware products to general contractors focused on multi-family new construction projects in the upper Midwest. BMI’s model has supported a 15% growth rate YOY for the past 10 years. The shocking aspect of their business model, they have no sales team. Can you imagine your competitive edge being so great you have no need for a sales team? Well the BMI team not only imagined it, they did it.

How do you build a business model without a sales team?

Multi-family, commercial projects have been plagued by the Hardware Room for decades. The Hardware Room is a single room secured and designated to hold all door locks, hinges, closures and entry hardware needed for the project. One key is handed to the job superintendent to guard. It’s proven to be an efficient path to having lost products, hardware applied on the wrong openings and general time and money suck for everyone: general contractors, installing sub-contractors and the supplier. Jerry and the BMI team developed a solution – presorting the doors, millwork and hardware per unit. A 200-unit assisted living project will receive 200 materials packages, each marked and sorted by unit and phase. Hardware is palletized. This allows for easy and immediate distribution throughout the building and eliminates the need for hardware rooms and empty units for staging product. If units are ready, all materials can be delivered directly to the respective unit. Less time is spent handling the product and mitigating the risk of damaged or lost material. The BMI On-Site Optimization Program, the trademarked name for this process, has become the oxygen their customers need to survive.

Impact: Inventory shrink solved. Installers save on labor and stress. General contractors close projects on time. BMI does not have the headache of proving what was delivered and who is responsible for the loss.

Greater impact: Subcontracted installers demand BMI as the preferred supplier on their projects. Subcontractors have become the BMI sales team.

Jerry: “The BMI Value Proposition is our employees and their Midwest roots. Coming from a largely agricultural, hardworking heritage, our employees realize the value of hard work and are rewarded accordingly. We create an entrepreneurial culture where all employees participate in improving the company. Their opinions matter. Let the employees that are doing the work come up with the solutions. They share in the success and more importantly, take pride in being a part of the success. They take ownership.”

BMI is a team, no lone ranger swaggering sales persona driving their sales volume. No salesperson capable of moving their accounts to a competitor after a disagreement. The competitive edge was created by solving a major on-site construction problem, positioning them to operate without a sales team. What are the elements of your offering that are different from your competitors and in high demand? Clue: it’s not “on time and in full (OTIF)” or “customer service”.

Jerry is humble; make no mistake the quality of the team is a reflection of people the leader attracts. The competitive edge of the business model starts with a strategic thinking leader. You can measure the strategic abilities of any leader by their expenses on outside sales compensation and entertainment. High commission sales expenses and Canadian and Alaskan fishing trips might be a sign your competitive edge is over-reliant on your sales team and not the competitive edge of the business model.

Here are my top 6 strategic vetting questions: 

1) When have you developed a market competitive edge? (proven history of success is must, looking for multiple examples of when it was done)

2) What did you inherit and what was the result? (must be reported in hard P&L numbers)

3) What is the process for developing a market competitive edge? (the answer must be focused on collecting facts directly from the customer base and defining the problem to be solved)

4) What is your problem-solving process? (looking for collaborative, team-based answers – instant fail grade if the leader says “I” or “my team” as it’s a clear sign of narcissism)

5) What are the common obstacles and how do you navigate them? (people not embracing the facts – poor ranking and prioritization)

6) What have been your biggest mistakes? (not having any examples is a clear sign of an egocentric leader – instant fail)

If your hiring process does not have multiple leaders in the final stages that score high on these questions, you are likely not accessing the hidden top-tier industry talent. Don’t settle, reach out to our experienced team and interview the talent you are missing.

Hire Smarter – Tony


May 6, 2019

Leverage the power of hidden talent

We are dedicated to impacting people’s personal and professional goals; combined with helping great companies connect with great people. Following are a few of the great professionals and companies who engaged with Misura Group recently. 

Kenny Mays

Market Manager

Cory Tamm

Regional Sales Manager


“Tony has run multiple searches for our business for top-level market leaders. We think about Tony and the team and the success they provided in two different ways. First, they were successful in finding a great many highly qualified candidates that fit our profile and ultimately helped us work through the process to find great fits for these positions. Second, Tony has become an integral part of our market insight, strategy development, and team building. I would recommend Tony and the Misura Group team to anyone looking to improve their team, culture, and strategy.” Jon Vaughan, President at Brand Vaughan Lumber


Scott Bauer

Truss General Manager

Mark Boggess

Truss and Panel Design Manager


“I have known Tony for a few years and he is a very special guy when it comes to recognizing top talent and quality people in our industry. We hired Tony to search for a general manager for our truss plant. He and the team put some great talent in front of us to choose from and we were able to hire an outstanding individual. The Misura Group is an awesome team and does outstanding work.” Clinton Grothues, General Manager at MG Building Materials


Jenni Shook-Harris

Chief People Officer

Wade Boleski

Senior Project Manager


“Tony is really good at finding out what your culture is as a leader and as a company, and making sure that he finds people that are a cultural fit. He’s not just looking at a transaction, he’s looking for where you want to be strategically then helping identify what kind of people to bring in to accomplish that goal.” Russ Kathrein, CEO at Alexander Lumber

Brian Googins

Access Control Technician

Andrew Kruse

Sales/Project Manager

Helping individuals grow and watching them succeed is why we do what we do. We look forward to building more meaningful relationships as the year unfolds. 

With every breath keep growing – Tony

Meet the minds of our Marketing team! Laura and Nali work behind-the-scenes to make sure our clients and candidates (and the whole Misura Group team) reach their goals.

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