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Building supplier changes generational hands

By , - Last modified: March 21, 2019 at 3:05 PM
Jason Wehrung stands outside Wehrung's Lumber & Home Center in Ottsville, Bucks County. He
purchased the business from his parents effective Jan. 1.
Jason Wehrung stands outside Wehrung's Lumber & Home Center in Ottsville, Bucks County. He purchased the business from his parents effective Jan. 1. - (Photo / )

Running a business has long been in Jason Wehrung's blood.

Now, it is in his hands.

Wehrung rang in the New Year with the purchase of Wehrung’s Lumber & Home Center, his family’s business in Ottsville, Bucks County.

He has been president of the lumber and building supplies company since 2011. Buying the business, founded by his parents Vernon and Jean Wehrung, was the natural next step.

But it is not the only step he is taking.

He said he has his sights on making the home center and lumber business digitally friendly to attract millennial contractors and DIY consumers.

And he’ll have some help. “Dad’s very tech savvy,” Wehrung said.

Wehrung also understands the “bricks and mortar” of the construction business and is looking for ways to innovate on that side, as well.

“I’m exploring shipping specific product lines such as concrete across the nation, because the industry doesn’t do it,” Wehrung said.

Third-generation entrepreneur

Wehrung’s Lumber & Home Center was founded in 1986 by Vernon and Jean Wehrung.

But they were not the family’s first entrepreneurs. Jason’s grandfather, Woodrow “Woody” Wehrung, founded a concrete and septic tank business in 1946.

The home center caters both to contractors and to the general public and sells products and materials for a wide range of uses, including lawn and garden, paint, plumbing and electric, tools, flooring and lumber. About 100 employees work at the Ottsville center.

“People don’t know how diverse we are,” Jason Wehrung said.

The company also is growing. Late last year it acquired a millwork company in Quakertown in a bid to increase its stock of lumber and millwork.

In 2015, it purchased a Chalfont hardware store. And before that, in 2003, Wehrung launched a division called Solid Products Marketing and Promotions, also in Ottsville. It offers custom embroidery, silk-screen printing and customized promotional items such as pens, mugs and tote bags.

“Our customers were calling for a one-stop shop, and that’s where Solid Products was born,” Wehrung said.

It is the company’s customer service that appeals to Eric Schultz, vice president of sales for The Quikrete Companies in Berlin, New Jersey, a long-time Wehrung’s vendor.

“Bar none, they should be the folks everybody else gets graded against for customer service,” Schultz said.

He said while Wehrung’s Lumber & Home Center’s retail store gives the feeling of a “DIY center,” with bright aisles and rows of home-improvement products, its commercial sales division is focused entirely on supplying professional contractor’s needs before, during and after a sale.

“Jason’s been doing business with us for 10 years, and he has his finger on the pulse of service [to] the professional contractor,” Schultz said.

Schultz said heavy, relentless rain in 2018 “was out of control.” But Wehrung’s carried products to address problems caused by the rain.

Mark Passerini is owner/operator of Finishing Touch Builder’s Inc., in Upper Black Eddy, Bucks County. He’s been a Wehrung’s customer for at least 20 years.

“I started buying lumber and sheet goods at Wehrung’s when I began my business,” Passerini said. Selection and quick turnaround on service and orders means he doesn’t have to carry inventory.

Personal service and a “no questions asked” return policy – even on high-end carpentry tools – as well as support for products, makes a huge difference to his business.

“I could buy from Amazon, but at Wehrung’s they work with me and, frankly, I don’t think the pricing would be much better. When you call Wehrung’s, someone is there and can help you,” Passerini said.

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