About seven years ago, Richard Bell first visited Builder Bob’s Home Improvement and soon developed an interest in the Ardmore business. He had already founded The Boss Builders Outlet Super Store in Dallas and was creating a network of contractors and store owners in the region. Over the years, the business relationship evolved into a personal friendship with Builder Bob’s founder Bob Crittendon.
“I’ve always been intrigued with this place, I’ve had this huge itch of having a store in a small town,” Bell said. When hints of retirement started to surface with Crittendon, Bell started exploring options to further expand.
With last week’s retirement of Crittendon, Bell is now opening a second location of his store to include the remaining inventory of Builder Bob’s. “Bob has a bunch of inventory, but beyond that we’re sending 10 18-wheeler loads out of our inventory in Dallas,” Bell said.
Bell said he worked as a lumber broker for several years before deciding to get into wholesale distribution. He worked out of his garage until he could secure a warehouse near the Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport about 10 years ago. Over the course of a decade, he has been able to expand to tens of thousands of square feet and 24 employees.
The Dallas area has apparently been good for the business Bell started out of his garage, but he knows small towns have certain advantages over huge metro areas. “I’m excited about being able to sponsor the high school football teams, or put an ad in the programs for high school sports and know that Ardmore is going to see that,” he said. “There’s nothing you could do to make a splash in the community,” he said of the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex.
Crittendon and Bell both expect many of the employees to remain at the store through the transition. While some of the faces should stay the same, Bell said one major change will be more clarity on what products are available in wholesale quantities. Longtime shoppers of Builder Bob’s can also expect to see The Boss inventory expanded to include more fencing and siding, according to Bell. “It’s going to be a lot more shopping,” he said.
Bell said furniture will no longer be a focus for The Boss, however. “Furniture is something that I don’t have a background in,” he said. “Rather than learning that, I’d rather expand on the flooring (and) bring in the fencing.”
Contractors and DIYers in Carter County have used Builder Bob’s for three decades, and Bell hopes many of these patrons will continue to visit. With Crittendon expected to help in the store over the next few weeks, Bell knows any success for The Boss in Ardmore will be built on the local legacy of Builder Bob’s.
“Even if it’s just a phone call...having that open line of communication (with Crittendon) is invaluable,” Bell said.