Paul Hylbert, the CEO of ProBuild, told ProSales magazine at the International Builders Show on Tuesday that America's No. 1 LBM company has shrunk roughly 10% in employees and facilities in the past year, but that the company is sticking with its strategy of growing, consolidating and gaining market share.

Hylbert said ProBuild now has 503 facilities, including several acquired in the past year. That's down from the 563 it reported to the 2008 ProSales 100. The company’s recent acquisitions also included an additional 1,000 workers to ProBuild’s 15,000-person 2008 payroll, but the head count has shrunk in the last year. Currently, ProBuild employs approximately 13,000 people, according to Hylbert, with some locations on a 32-hour workweek.

"We're trying to reallocate assets and rightsize the company," Hylbert said from ProBuild's booth at the annual building industry trade show in Las Vegas. He said that when he talks to ProBuild workers nationwide, he stresses that "[t]he long term is bright, and we're going to fight through. We're going to take advantage of opportunities that come up. Our strategy is to keep growing, consolidating, gaining share."

One example of ProBuild's simultaneous shrinking and growing came when the company announced in December that it would close three facilities in South Florida but noted that two of those operations were made unnecessary as a result of acquisitions over the previous 12 months.

In terms of overall geography, ProBuild serves 80 of the country's biggest markets, but the only two it has entered in the past year were Las Vegas and Phoenix. Hylbert didn't give an expected revenue figure for 2008; the firm posted sales of $5 billion in 2007.

The company plans to continue its growth supported by a sophisticated and powerful new computer system. According to Hylbert, the ProBuild East operations should be entirely on the new Oracle system in about six months, while ProBuild South while begin embracing the system this fall. By the end of 2010, all parts of ProBuild should be on board.

Both builders and ProBuild should benefit from the new system, which Hylbert said was designed to give the company unprecedented insights into ProBuild's customer base.  For instance, ProBuild can identify its customers by type--production builder, custom builder, etc.--but it can't serve up more detailed information on what type of work those production builders do, such as what kind of homes it builds, which could help it serve those builder customers more efficiently.

Meanwhile, the company has nearly finished changing all store names to the ProBuild brand; the only groups where the ProBuild logo won't predominate will be in Alaska, where Spenard Building Supply is a local retail institution; and southern California, where Dixieline Lumber and Home Centers will keep using that name.

Craig Webb is editor of ProSales magazine.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Orlando, FL.