MDM Podcast: How Kodiak Grows through Local Empowerment - Modern Distribution Management

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MDM Podcast: How Kodiak Grows through Local Empowerment

In just 12 years, Kodiak Building Partners has gone from inception to No. 11 on our Top Building Materials Distributors List. CEO Steve Swinney details how enabling local empowerment has keyed that growth.
Kodiak BP Pod 2

Established in 2011, Kodiak Building Partners is very young by company standards in wholesale distribution. 

But in just 12 years, the building products distributor has rapidly scaled to the No. 11 spot on MDM’s 2023 Top Building Materials & Construction Supplies Distributors list, making nearly 40 deals in that time that have gained Kodiak over 100 locations across 25 states. The Highlands Ranch, Colorado-based company now has more than 6,000 employees, making it one of the largest employers in the Rocky Mountain State.

Steve Swinney

As the guest in our latest MDM Podcast, Kodiak Co-Founder and CEO Steve Swinney told me a culture of local empowerment and autonomy has powered the company’s growth model, for which acquisitive expansion doesn’t look to slow down anytime soon.

“Without the culture that we’ve really built and been able to maintain through that growth, I don’t think it would have been sustainable at all,” he told me.

Swinney and a few partners founded Kodiak out of what he called an opportunity coming out of the 2008-2009 Great Recession. The building materials sector remains highly fragmented despite considerable consolidation over the past decade, and as one of the more active players in that market, Swinney said every opportunity presents a great learning experience, whether or not it results in a deal.

More from Kodiak: The company’s Corporate Controller, Darius McCurty, is a panelist on MDM’s latest free webcast, Redefine Your Customer Experience — Reduce Friction, Improve Process & Productivity,” which airs Nov. 30 at 1:00 ET. McCurty will share what Kodiak has been up to on the customer experience side and how it’s gone about improving staff productivity.

“I absolutely love it. It’s one of my favorite things about Kodiak,” he told me. “It’s the opportunity to meet so many great entrepreneurs and great business people. The things you learn from getting exposed to so many different companies, not only the ones you ultimately get to partner with and acquire — there’s obviously a ton of people you talk to that the deal doesn’t come together — you still learn so much from seeing all these successful businesses and successful leaders.”

Kodiak’s newest acquisition — Don’s Appliance — could be viewed as a diversification move outside of the company’s core building materials verticals. It gained Kodiak a home appliance supplier with a dozen locations in western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. But as Swinney noted, the company already gained a footing in that space over the years with adding Arizona Appliance & Home, Factory Builder Stores and Specialty Appliance. Don’s joined those three to comprise Kodiak’s Interiors operating unit.

Swinney and I discussed the company’s operating diversification alongside its acquisition strategy, what the company has been up to on the technology side, and his thoughts on the macroeconomic outlook for the building materials sector, which is finishing a tough 2023 on the homebuilding demand front.

Listen to the podcast via the audio player above, and check out our full MDM Podcast library here.

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