30045 Eagle Crest Road • Milton, DE 19968 • (302) 645-9464
|From farming to real estate to manufacturing: Hudson Management buys truss company, expands it|
|By Carol Kinsley|
Years ago, Christian and Jamin Hudson took over the family farm and business in Milton, Del., from their father and grandfather. Now, as the fields are tilled by a tenant farmer, the brothers are growing housing units and job opportunities in Sussex County and beyond, doing business as Hudson Management.
Most recently, they purchased Sam Yoder & Son’s roof truss company in Greenwood, expanded the company and added 20 employees. They’re still hiring.
Their father started the transition from farming and crop dusting to real estate and then mobile home parks. The parks grew to 1,200 units. As real estate developers, the Hudsons built 2,500 residential units in Sussex County, including 600 units at the Villages of Five Points in Lewes. They also built the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Rehoboth Beach.
Continuing the transition, Hudson Management has become more of an investment company than developer. On Jan. 1, 2011, the brothers bought Sam Yoder’s company, which was struggling in the economic recession that put the housing market in the doldrums. Heavily in debt, the company was in danger of being shut down by its banker creditors, which would have put 45 employees out of a job.
“We took a big risk investing in a manufacturing plant tied 100 percent to the housing market in the teeth of the housing crisis,” said Christian.
“My brother and I don’t have a history of building trusses,” he continued, “but we come from the building industry. We listened to the employees and got their thoughts and suggestions as to what was wrong with the company and how to fix it. They shared what they were doing right and what could be done better. Together we all crafted a winning strategy for how to grow the business.”
The brothers paid off the company’s debts and made capital investments. “We bought new machinery, new computers and updated software,” Christian said.
“We’ve also expanded our product lines. The company started off only doing roof trusses and floor trusses, but we now offer wall panels, LVLs and re-lam beams as well,” according to Jamin. (Laminated veneer lumber, or LVL, is a manufactured product composed of multiple layers of thin wood and adhesive. Stronger, straighter and more uniform than conventional lumber, it is used for headers, beams, rimboard and edge-forming material.)
“We use dense black spruce from Canada. The lumber is strong. It’s engineered rating is guaranteed. Some competitors use Southern yellow pine, which is full of knots and snaps under pressure,” Jamin said. “A lot of little things we’ve learned by talking with the guys who work on the production line or drive the trucks. It has paid off tremendously. We couldn’t be where we are today without these guys.”
They invested in heavy equipment to be more efficient in delivery. Trailers allow them to drop loads quickly.
The Hudsons also invested in Yoder’s employees. “We’ve worked hard to keep a good relationship with our employees,” Christian said. “We’re probably one of the only companies to increase our health benefit package.”
Employees no longer pay any insurance premium, and for $10 a month can reduce the annual deductible from $1,500 to $1,000.
Maylon Mast is one of their partners in the business. He had been Sam Yoder’s partner for years before moving to West Virginia and was convinced to return as president in the 1990s.
“When the Hudsons were looking into buying the company, they wanted to make sure Maylon was involved because of his experience,” explained Lamar Yoder, manager at the firm. Lamar is Sam Yoder’s nephew and has been working there for 34 years. It was his first full-time job.
“Actually, I lived in Ohio and came out to work just for the summer after my freshman year in college. I met my wife and decided Delaware was a good place to be.”
Lamar’s mother, Barbara, grew up here, sister to Sam. She married Richard Yoder, who works with Lamar, as do two of Lamar’s brothers, a niece and a nephew. Richard is now 79 and Barbara would like him to retire, but he enjoys the work and the people. “He’s a real people person,” Lamar said. “He puts on a good face for our company wherever he goes.”
Lamar said he himself started as low as he could get and has done every job there is to do at Yoder’s. “The work atmosphere is very nice; there’s not a lot of drama,” he said. He is happy to work at a place where he likes the people and is proud of the product they put out.
Lamar noted the Hudsons’ connections in the building industry have enabled them to open new doors and introduce builders and new clients to Yoder’s.
Christian said, “We’re battling big fish — even great white sharks — in a little pond, but we’ve managed to turn things around, save jobs, add more jobs and we’re still hiring.”
For more information on Sam Yoder and Sons at 302-398-4711 or visit www.samyoder.com.