From left: Chris LeBlanc, millwork purchasing; Derek Shea, millwork manager; Celia Belletete, lumber contractor sales; Sara Belletete, director of purchasing; Mike Shea, president and CEO; David Belletete, VP; Matt Shea, VP; and Jack Belletete, chairman of the board (seated in truck). Photo by Christine Carignan.
Belletetes, a retailer of building materials, lumber, hardware and millwork with eight NH locations and one in Massachusetts, broke into the top 10 on this year’s list of the Top l00 Private Companies. But, as if that weren’t enough, the company also made the list of 20 fastest growing companies, with a three-year average annual growth rate of more than 15%.
“We were fortunate with increased foot traffic as people were stuck at home and doing projects,” says Mike Shea, president and CEO. To accommodate customers during 2020, the company quickly adopted state and federal COVID safety protocols, stepped up its online ordering capabilities and introduced touchless pickup. But Shea says they stopped short of requiring face masks for customers as they had heard horror stories from other retailers about trying to police masks, and they did not want to put their employees through that additional stress.
Business was so brisk, Shea says the company cut back on hours during the week and closed on Sundays for two months to give employees respite. DYIers who received federal money showed up in droves as they embarked on projects ranging from replanting the lawn or creating a garden to building a deck or simply painting a room. Those home projects helped Belletetes’ sales to spike 22% between 2019 and 2020.
Customers continued to buy despite rising prices caused by supply chain disruptions, boosting the lumber yard’s customer base, which is typically 80% contractor. But, Shea notes, the supply chain still poses a challenge. “Manufacturers are still catching up with demand,” he says, noting they purchased inventory beyond what they needed to hedge their bets against continuing delays.
“I think this year will be on par with last year. There is still tremendous demand for all types of housing. That, in and of itself, will continue to lead the economic recovery,” he says, adding “We’re a 123-year-old company in growth mode.”