On the DW Distribution website, the leadership team’s names, photos and short bios are featured, but in a fun twist, each member provides percentages that reveals more about their personalities.
Some are facetious, saying they’re a “10% good golfer” or “100% stubborn,” but President David Cusey’s answer speaks to his dedication to his industry and customers:
“100% We will find a way!” Cusey answered, followed by, “0%. What’s 0%? I said we would find a way!”
It’s an attitude he has maintained since his humble beginnings working for retailers like Home Depot, and has carried throughout his career as he rose through the ranks of the Texas-based DW Distribution.
“[Customers] have issues, concerns, they have needs, and we’ve got to be able to fill those needs,” he said.
It’s What and Who You Know
Cusey’s journey into roofing and construction began in 2000, working at building materials retailer Payless Cashways to help pay for his college education. When the company went bankrupt, he pivoted to Home Depot. It taught him that, while he liked the industry for its hours and convenience, he didn’t want to stay in retail. With that in mind, he found gainful employment at PrimeSource Building Products.
It was here where fate brought him together with Aaron Elliott. At the time, Elliott worked for one of PrimeSource’s vendors, Elk Building Products. The two became friends over the years, so when Elliott left Elk, they kept in touch.
“Like most people, when you get in, we realize this is a good industry with good people, so you start to network,” Cusey said.
Elliott went to DW Distribution in 2008 and contacted Cusey to see if he wanted to join the team. Cusey had built a solid career and reputation, so he politely declined. The years went by and the two remained friends, so one day, took up Elliott on his offer.
That right move landed him at DW Distribution in 2012, initially working on the millwork side of the business as director of building materials. Nathan Potter, the third generation Potter for the company, was serving as president, and in 2014, he became CEO. At that time, Cusey climbed the ladder to vice president of business development, a role he held for seven years.
Meanwhile, in 2015, Elliott took on the mantle of president, a position he held through major changes in the company, the most significant of which was when Specialty Building Products acquired DW Distribution in 2021.
“We are excited to build on our legacy and are energized by the opportunity to work with Specialty Building Products as we make a positive impact on our industry,” said Potter in a release.
In August 2022, not long after the acquisition, Cusey became vice president of building materials, but he wouldn’t stay there for long. Elliott took on a position with DW’s new parent company, and the natural successor was Cusey, who ascended to president last January. As part of the promotion, Cusey also serves as regional manager for Specialty Building Products.
“Prior to being president … my primary responsibility was building materials, whether that was operations, sales, or purchasing. Now I have to focus on the overall company and make sure we’re heading in the right direction,” he said.
Steering in the Right Direction
Part of what Cusey has overseen is a strategic split of the business, which includes investments to support growth in the millwork, door units and building supplies. He said much of his time is spent maintaining that balance as well as focusing on properly supporting DW’s employees. As a result, DW Distribution is expecting to double its business over the next three to five years.
“We continue to invest in new locations, new products, and new people to support our growth,” he said.
One major shift has been selling in new channels. Historically, Cusey says, DW Distribution didn’t sell “big box,” but thanks to Specialty Building Products, those avenues have become accessible. The distributor is also making customer interactions easier with its DW 24/7 online portal, which has been revamped to an improved 2.0 version.
To help its dealers, which mostly consist of fully-stocked lumberyards, he said DW Distribution is all about education, so it holds training sessions on how dealers can better compete against others that solely offer roofing products.
“If we don’t do that, then roofing becomes irrelevant for them because they’re not doing enough volume,” he said.
He said the company will also continue recognizing its manufacturer partners with its Vendor of the Year award, which has been given to GAF as well as Owens Corning in the past. He said it’s about recognizing vendors that not only create demand for products, but a commitment to two-step distribution.
Naturally, good people are needed to help support all these initiatives, and like most other entities in construction, hiring has been a struggle for DW Distribution. But Cusey’s attitude of “we will find a way” perseveres.
“We’re looking for talent and there’s just not a lot of it out there,” he said. “I would prefer to promote within, so we’ve really stepped up our internal training to try to get those people elevated so that we’re not having to look outside the company.”
The company has also opened its doors to college graduates and military veterans. In fact, one of DW Distribution’s new branch managers in South Texas is a retired Marine who worked in supply chain during his military career.
“We’re still a value-based organization, and it’s family, we spend a lot of time together,” Cusey said. “In some cases, you spend just as much time with this team as you would your own family, so we definitely work to unite that team and help people. Our purpose is to help people achieve their great American dream.”
That being said, Cusey preaches work-life balance to his employees. When not spending time with his DW Distribution family, Cusey enjoys spending time with his family, especially now that he and his wife are empty-nesters. Their son graduated college in May and recently started working at DW Distribution, while their daughter graduated in 2021 and works as an architect. With his wife of 25 years working as a Realtor, they’ve all recognized the opportunities that roofing and construction offers.
Given his 20-plus-year tenure in the industry, Cusey said one of the biggest changes he has seen in his is the consolidation through mergers and acquisitions, and finding a way to adapt to it.
“The business is still there, so how do we take advantage of those synergies, reduce the redundancies, and just run a better business? That is always changing what we do and how we do it,” he said. “The players’ names are changing, companies are changing, and the strategies are changing, so you’ve got to adapt quickly to that.”
As for advice he has for other distribution professionals? Do whatever you can to help your customers – find a way.
“You have to understand what your customer needs are. We’re here for them, not us, so it’s important we know what they need so we can execute on the front side,” said Cusey. “You don’t do that, you’re going to fail.”