James T Halpern
Cardinal Building Materials, Inc.
Location: St. Louis, MO
Industry: Wholesale Building Materials
When the recession hit in 2008 and 2009, James T. Halpern deftly guided Cardinal Building Materials Inc. through those difficult times, keeping the company churning by diversifying beyond its core products of siding and windows and adding roofing products. The additional revenue was essential, but the move came with its own obstacles, Halpern said.
“Diversification has challenges,” he said. “You are always competing with leaders that have more industry experience than you have in entering a new field.
“Complex problems are always unique, so there is not a cookie-cutter solution. The one constant is always gathering as much information from multiple sources to best develop a go-forward plan. And also creating a feedback system after solution A is implemented.”
Cardinal Building Materials is a distributor of exterior, residential building materials, including siding, roofing, windows and other exterior products. Cardinal’s clients are local remodeling contractors throughout eastern Missouri and central and southern Illinois.
The company was founded in 1956 by Halpern’s great-uncle and father. Helpern joined the company in 1983 and “immediately connected with customers and employees alike with his genuine care for everyone he works,” the company said. Halpern helped guide the company as an early adopter of computer processing for inventory management and set up trainings for Cardinal’s contractor customers to help them learn additional skills and trades. “Jim has always stressed honesty, compassion, care and work ethic, and those values are what has and will continue to carry Cardinal Building Materials forward,” the company said.
The company maintains an efficient level of inventory using a computer system to monitor usage of products and to provide recommendations on stocking levels and purchasing points of various products. That system, coupled with an inventory control manager with 20-plus years of experience with the company and a sales team in sync with market trends, gives the company an edge.
Halpern is in his 40th year with Cardinal Building Materials, and he’s seen ups and downs numerous times over four decades.
“From the days of handwritten tickets and snail-mailed quotes to today’s society of measuring job sites via satellite imagery and matching products through text message, Jim has helped the company evolve while maintaining its identity,” the company said.
Most important, his team said, are his children and grandchildren and the friends he’s made in and out of the industry.
“Jim is exceptionally caring, so it is no surprise that he has developed many deep relationships,” the company said. “He is loved by all, from high-level executives at manufacturers to hundreds if not thousands of local contractors.”
Jim was named after Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio. No wonder Jim turned out kind and caring like his namesake!