Originally created 03/12/98

Managers to buy Maner Builders

Five Maner Builders Supply Co. senior managers have joined to purchase the business.

A sales agreement has been reached and should be final by April 15.

The group of investors, headed by Jim Broome, includes Jerry Bigham, Bert Harbin, Rob McCrary III and William Wren.

"We've all been here a long time and we feel this business has a bright future and we want to be a part of it," said Mr. Broome, who has worked for Maner 19 years. The other investors have worked there from eight to 20 years, he added. "We have a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of everything invested in this business. We want to continue to carry that on."

David A. Maner said he and his partner, Robert E. McCrary Jr., made the decision to sell the business because Mr. McCrary, 63, was ready to retire and Mr. Maner, 55, wanted to explore other business opportunities. The sales contract, however, will keep Mr. McCrary on as credit manager and Mr. Maner as a consultant for another two years.

Maner, which also has operations in Charleston and Greenville, S.C., carries masonry, gypsum products, lumber, building materials, fencing and commercial products.

The 47-year-old business began in 1951 when William A. Maner, who died in 1978, moved to Augusta and bought an existing building supply company on the 1000 block of Broad Street. In the mid-1950s, the business moved to the intersection of 15th and Wrightsboro Road.

David Maner and Mr. McCrary joined the business in 1969. It relocated to Martinez Boulevard in 1973, a decision that has paid off in the long run.

"When we moved to Martinez, it was not nearly as developed as it is now," said David Maner. "It really helps to be skillful in business, but if you're lucky, you'll do OK. It was just dumb, blind luck. We had no way of knowing."

He said he is pleased the five company managers stepped forward to make the investment in the business's future.

"There are four basic building supply companies left in Augusta that were here in the '60s and '70s," said David Maner. "We've all moved to west Augusta, and we've all withstood the onslaught of Home Depot, Home Quarters, Lowes, Wickes and so on. It's very tough to compete with those chains. You have to evolve with the market. You can't stay static."

"If you've lived in this business, you would realize that someone who wasn't familiar with this business would have no hope of buying this business," Mr. Maner said.

Finding investors in their own company was like finding a shiny penny heads up on the sales floor.

"It's not an easy business," said Mr. Broome, "you really have to know what you're doing. And on top of that, you have to be a little lucky. We've always depended on Maner luck."


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