Sixth Generation Owner Modernizes Ollie’s Lumber Company with Paladin
Zane Ollie Chunn’s great-great-grandfather took over an eastern Oklahoma lumber mill in 1927, and for close to 90 years, it did business pretty much the same way. It made a lot of cash and credit card sales and had customer accounts all on hand-written receipts. Over those years, Ollie’s Lumber grew. It moved to Poteau in the 1940s, and Zane’s grandfather, Sub, opened another location in 1975 along with four other locations in Eastern Oklahoma. But it wasn’t until Zane became involved in 2016 that the stores changed the way they did business.
“When I got involved, we didn’t have a point-of-sale system, so I decided that’s the first thing I’m going to tackle,” says Zane, the sixth generation of Ollies to run the business. “Going from the way they had done it for so long with hand-written tickets, I was striving for something that would modernize us and was easy to use with good support.”
Zane found what he was looking for in Paladin Point of Sale and inventory management. Paladin simplifies the point of sale, which improves customer service with fast checkout and employee satisfaction because of its ease of use.
“My goal was to make it easy for our people to use. When we hire new people, they catch on really easily. We strive to have everybody enjoy their job. I don’t expect a fish to climb a tree, so we try to get people into jobs areas they excel,” he explains.
Ollie’s has a couple of dozen employees at each location, with many of them having 20 years or more with the business.
Zane knows a little bit about doing what you enjoy. He is a legend in the sport of cowboy mounted shooting – imagine barrel racing, sometimes hands-free, while shooting at targets with handguns and rifles. Zane is a seven-time AQHA Mounted Shooting World Champion and a six-time Cowboy Mounted Shooting (CMSA) Overall National Champion with close to 70 professional wins. His lengthy list of riding and shooting accomplishments has earned him a spot in the CMSA Hall of Fame. Basically, he doesn’t miss.
Zane wanted that kind of precision, accuracy and enjoyment in all his businesses. Paladin provides that to Ollie’s stores.
“Aside from ease of use, I wanted it for inventory management. A business that is this old and run the way it was for so long, I wanted to get to know our inventory, what was selling, what wasn’t. I’m an information and analytical kind of guy. Paladin has really helped us there,” Zane says.
Ollie’s focused on providing lumber and building materials to contractors at both locations for most of its first century. Zane brought in Ace Hardware at both stores to expand their appeal. Building contractors accounted for close to 70% of Ollie’s business prior to 2017. Since the expansion with Ace, Zane says their business is closer to 50-50 with builders and DIY homeowners.
Zane says he chose Paladin because of how smoothly it works with Ace programs. Paladin is fully integrated with Ace EDI, Ace Rewards, gift cards, coupons, B2B features, Ace National Lookup, Dynamic Promotions, and more.
“Paladin’s integration with Ace customer accounts is really nice. Our customers are able to see what we have in stock through the Ace site,” he says.
Ace Hardware offers Ace National Account pricing for many business customers online at acehardware.com. Paladin’s integration with it allows Ollie’s to offer national discounts to local customers and offer in-store discounts to Acehardware.com customers.
Like Ollie’s, Paladin started life in lumberyards and has refined its wide variety of lumber-specific tools for over 40 years. Custom footage calculators, special and yard order features, construction bundles and kits, job account management, and custom pricing and loyalty programs are all included in Paladin.
Paladin also offers mobile capability that allows store owners to work from anywhere with an internet connection and protects businesses with its Managed Services, which paid big dividends for Ollie’s Lumber. The business has been hit twice with ransomware over the past few years. Both times, Paladin’s Managed Services and technical support helped the stores recover quickly.
“Both times, Paladin was fabulous in getting our data back on the computers and everything cleaned up,” Zane explains. “We were able to keep both stores running, and by about the third day, Paladin had wiped the computers clean and we were operating at full strength.
“Paladin has been great for us. It’s easy to use for our employees and gives me the information I need to better manage inventory. Over the past couple of years, we’ve undertaken a lot of change. To have a point-of-sale company that’s willing to work with us and gives us great support is huge.”
Zane says with all the growth in the greater Fort Smith, Arkansas area, his business is well-positioned for success. Fort Smith sits on the Arkansas-Oklahoma border and is surrounded by the Arkansas River. Pocola is a suburb of the two-state metro area. Zane says he is already eying expansion, and that Paladin will play a role in that growth.