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BUSINESSVANCOUVER September 16–22, 2014

profile | Jeff Booth

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Building success BuildDirect CEO Jeff Booth helped shake the construction supply business to its foundations. And he vows he won’t stop until his company has grown to Google-sized proportions Jeff Booth, CEO of BuildDirect, in the company’s new offices on the 22nd floor at 401 West Georgia Street  | 

Mission

Build a simpler, friendlier and empowered home improvement industry

Assets

Will and perseverance. Keep standing up, overcoming and learning

Yield

Since 2010, revenue has grown more than 250% with 80% growth in 2013. In flooring alone, more than 40 million square feet delivered per year

By Nelson Bennett nbennett@biv.com

J

eff Booth is a compulsive doodler. It’s as though the 45-year-old CEO of BuildDirect needs to see his thoughts on a page while explaining them. His doodles are the little pictures of a bigpicture thinker. There is probably a diagram somewhere from 1999, when Booth and his business partner, Robert Banks, set out to disrupt the building materials supply business. What they created has been called the Amazon of building supplies – an e-commerce site where builders can order flooring or roofing materials directly from manufacturers at a significant discount. The company has grown so rapidly in the last two years – from a head count of 80 to 275 today – that it recently relocated from

its 14,000 square feet of office space at 717 Pender Street to 401 West Georgia Street, where it has 40,000 square feet on the 22nd and 19th floors and an option to take the 21st floor as well. “We planned on being there for seven years, and we were there for two,” Booth said of the company’s previous location. To finance the company’s growth, BuildDirect raised $16 million in venture capital from OMERS Ventures in 2012 and another $30 million in a Series B round last year led by Mohr Davidow Ventures. Although BuildDirect is focused largely on the U.S. market, Booth insists his company’s growth over the last two years is not just because of a recovering American housing market. As he points out, the long-term average for new housing in the U.S. is 1.5 million units per year but still remains at about 900,000

Chung Chow

units per year. “The business growth is coming from the platform we’re creating,” Booth said. It’s a platform that has been 15 years in the making. Born in Saskatchewan, Booth moved with his family to B.C.when he was a toddler but still has family connections on the Prairies. He was raised in Richmond and spent six months in university before dropping out to become a real estate agent at the age of 19. He did well in real estate and ended up coowning a real estate company. With no background in building, he started his own home construction business in the mid-1990s. He learned everything he knows about business from books. By his own estimate, he reads 50 business books a year. continued on page 22

Business in Vancouver - Issue 1298  

September 16, 2014 Issue 1298 Features: Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies

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