EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 26, 2014

Jackson Lumber gets national respect from industry

By Kelly Burch
kburch@eagletribune.com

---- — After five years of working to increase efficiency and customer service, a longtime local business is being recognized for its hard work and innovation.

Jackson Lumber & Millwork beat out more than 7,500 national competitors to be named the National Dealer of the Year by ProSales Magazine, an industry publication. It is the first New England building supply company to earn the award.

The Lawrence-based company is the cover story of the latest issue of the magazine.

“We are greatly honored to be selected as National Dealer of the Year for 2014,” said Mark Torrisi, president of the family-owned business. “Being awarded national recognition is really exciting for the staff. They are being recognized for their work, and this has reinforced the fact that the work they put in makes a difference and is exemplary in the industry.”

Jackson Lumber has been owned and operated by the Torrisi family for 68 years. Joe Torrisi founded the business in Lawrence in 1946 to provide building materials to contractors and homeowners to support the boom in construction after World War II. Subsequent generations of the family have been active in helping the business expand from its Lawrence headquarters. Today, Jackson Lumber & Millwork has outlets in Lawrence and Amesbury, a showroom in North Andover and a manufacturing plant in Raymond, N.H.

The company is now run by a third generation of the Torrisi family – brothers Mark and Jay and their cousin Joe. In 2008, the trio began to seriously evaluate how they could make all areas of the business more effective to keep the company competitive in the 21st century. They brought in consultants and visited other suppliers around the country, learning ways to reduce wasted time throughout the company.

“Our big focus is trying to be more efficient with the assets and staff that we have,” Torrisi said. “Whether we are improving cycle times, deliveries or things made in shop, it gives us an advantage. Ultimately, it leads to quicker turnaround times and the customers being able to get products when they want them and where they want them. It’s all about better service to the customers.”

The initiative caught the eye of ProSales editor Steve Campbell.

“The Torrisi family demonstrates a willingness to examine their operations and, when needed, make major changes with the ultimate goal of better serving their customers,” Campbell said. “Mark, Jay, and Joe Torrisi used lean manufacturing principles not just to eliminate wasted time and effort in Jackson Lumber’s manufacturing facility but also to improve performance throughout the company from sales to shipping. They solicited the advice of staff and put those ideas in place, creating a sense of ownership across the entire organization.”

Torrisi is pleased with the award but said he hopes to continue improving operations at Jackson Lumber.

“It never ends,” he said. “It’s ongoing. We’re continuously trying to get things fine-tuned.”