At the construction job site A&W can supply the root beer, while L&W can deliver the gypsum wallboard and other building materials. L&W Supply distributes more than 40,000 building products made by parent company USG and other manufacturers through about 165 locations in some 35 states. Besides wallboard (which accounts for about 30% of sales), L&W Supply's products include ceilings, insulation, joint treatment and texture products, metal framing, and roofing supplies. It also offers such services as delivery of less-than-truckload quantities, stocking, and lending. The company's customers are primarily builders and contractors. USG organized L&W Supply in 1971.
Business in recent times has seemed like a rollercoaster ride for L&W. The unit emerged from bankruptcy protection after five years in 2006; its parent had operated under Chapter 11 because of asbestos litigation -- as did L&W, even though as a distributor, L&W never manufactured an asbestos product. Still, L&W continued to grow its distribution network and hit its operational peak a year after exiting bankruptcy protection, boasting 247 locations. Its expansion efforts were short-lived, however. In the years that have followed, L&W has been shuttering distribution centers as a result of weakened demand in the construction market brought on by the recession and persisting tough economic conditions. In 2009 the USG subsidiary closed 37 distribution centers and eliminated about 820 jobs. (It has shut down more than 90 distribution centers and cut more than 3,800 jobs since the downturn began.)
The challenging economy has prompted parent USG to review its operations. In 2009 USG recorded an impairment charge of $29 million related to L&W's intangible assets and $12 million in goodwill. L&W continues to focus on shrinking its cost structure and improving asset utilization to boost efficiency.
Despite its difficulties, L&W remains a leading building products distributor in the US. The unit distributed about 10% of all gypsum wallboard in the nation, including roughly 35% of U.S. Gypsum's wallboard production. – less