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Even though Jennings Builders Supply opened for business in 1984, the beginning of the story sounds more like 1884. From the mid-seventies until 1984, Dick Jennings was a building contractor in Cashiers, North Carolina. Invariably he found it difficult to get building materials for the homes he was building. So, in 1984, Jennings acquired two small existing sheds on a defunct mink farm off Highway 64.
There he began stockpiling small amounts of lumber and plywood, primarily to meet his own needs, but eventually this led to supplying other builders as well.
It was a meager beginning for sure. The day he officially opened as Jennings Building Supply he rounded up two guys to help him ... put some coffee on ... set out some donuts ... and began the patient wait for customers. Jennings smiles slightly when he recalls, "Our office was so bad that when it rained, I had to put cap block below my secretary's desk to keep her feet dry. We heated the place with a small wood stove." As he struggled for several years, a few local builders began to come to Jennings for their needs. Then, in 1992, Dick built his first retail center nearby on property fronting the highway. Business doubled the first year at that location.
Sales have increased every year since, despite downturns in the economy. Jennings believes customers have remained loyal because of his business philosophy, which involves service over everything else. "We choose to avoid the short term customer by not offering the loss leaders and other gimmicks of the larger super centers. Instead we favor slower growth - growth that has never faltered in the time we have been here."
We've come a long way from our humble beginnings. Today Jennings employs more than 150 employees at 5 locations. Among the full service building supply company's products and services are lumber, hardware, ceramic tile and natural stone, window and door millwork, paint, and a service department for outdoor power equipment. Dick Jennings applies