Emphasis on sales pays off for Diebolt

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor

Register/Bob Johnson
Darla Buckman, acting director of U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development and Tim Rogers, Housing Programs director, talk with Don Diebolt at Diebolt Lumber and Supply, LaHarpe. Diebolt was recognized for his assistance with Rural Development housing efforts.

Don Diebolt was delighted Thursday morning to be recognized for contributions he has made to U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development programs as a supplier, and he had an upbeat tale that captivated his audience.
With the economy reeling, Diebolt said he had ramped up advertising, hired more sales people and that his building supplies business at the southeast edge of LaHarpe was having a banner year.
“We sent out 117,000 advertising flyers awhile back and the first couple of days it didn’t look like it was going to have a big effect,” Diebolt said.
Then, sales exploded.
“By the end of the 10-day sale our sales were up by 50 percent over last year,” he said.
Another ad booklet goes out next week and Diebolt thinks the effect will be similar.
“Our business gets better every year,” Diebolt said, partly because “we haven’t over-built here like they have in the metros. We have room and need for new homes in our area.”
Also, Diebolt said increasing his sales force — half of his 45 employees are in sales — had made a difference.
“We have eight more sales people today than a year ago, including one in Wichita,” he said. “The fellow in Wichita used to sell me insulation, now he sells for me. And, if someone came in who could sell, I’d hire him or her on the spot.”
Diebolt said a sale on roofing shingles had been especially successful, with many orders coming from the Wichita area.
“We deliver there and still beat the local price on shingles,” he said.
Diebolt offers packaged homes, but more often, he said, someone intending to build will bring in his own plans and have Diebolt deliver all materials needed to the site.
“We have two (homes) in Humboldt, one in Erie and four at Burlington going right now,” he said. “And another at Butler, Mo.”
Diebolt doesn’t arrange for builders, but “we know contractors all around and help people get in touch with ones we know are reputable.”
His trade area extends out well over 100 miles from LaHarpe, into western Missouri, northern Oklahoma and the Wichita area.
Lawrence Diebolt, his father, started the business in 1951. Later, Don joined in and eventually purchased the business 10 years ago. He had a kitchen specialty business in Iola, Kitchens & More, which now is incorporated in the main Diebolt building at LaHarpe. His daughter, Michelle Diebolt, manages the kitchen section.