Locally-owned Middleton Building Supply inspires community loyalty

Foster's Daily Democrat, October 31, 2011

[The following article is courtesy of the Foster's Daily Democrat]

HAMPTON - Andy Carberry, manager at Middleton Building Supply in Hampton, says community loyalty to his store is a two-way street.

"It’s a conversation I have every day with our customers, why they do business with us," he says. "I had a customer just the other day go out of his way to tell me he’s going to buy as much as possible from us because he believes in local and he believes in the quality of products that we offer."

One big reason why Middleton is able to offer relatively competitive prices is their participation in the Lumber Merchandizing Corporation, a regional co-op of over 300 lumber yards and retail outlets that provides its members the opportunity to buy in bulk.

Similarly, because they’re locally owned and run, Middleton has the flexibility to adjust to changes in consumer demands, allowing them to introduce new products and materials into their inventory.

Increasingly, that’s translated into more environmentally items lining the shelves. Indeed, a walk through the store reveals an array of green products: Low or no VOC paint and caulking; trim boards made from recycled plastic; recycled and recyclable insulation; low-flush toilets; solar shingles; high-efficiency windows; and a line of green polyurethane wood finishing products made from renewable farm sources from Vermont Natural Coatings, just to name a few.

Yet another byproduct of their "buy local" ethos is Middleton’s long-heralded community efforts: Ever year, the company donates time and money to causes and programs ranging from the Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts to little league teams and domestic violence prevention programs.

They’re also intimately involved with Zero Waste Portsmouth - initiative spearheaded by the Islington Creek Neighborhood Association, Tim Gaudreau Studios, and EcoMovement Consulting and Hauling which recently rolled out a series of five, artistically rendered recycling stations in and around the city’s downtown - having sponsored and donated lumber and other materials to the project.

In 2009, the company was one of the first to join Green Alliance, the Portsmouth-based "green business union" which helps certify and promote green businesses throughout the Seacoast community. As part of the organization’s "Green Card" program, Middleton offers a 5% discount off most in-stock items to Green Alliance members, showing yet again the value to be had by shopping local.

Taken together, the customer responsiveness, competitive pricing, increasingly green inventory, and steadfast dedication to community paint a picture of a company tackling the 21st century with a unique combination of old-school values and forward-thinking initiatives.

It’s a picture Andy Carberry thinks the Seacoast community will continue to support and - like any snapshot successful in capturing a unique time and place - appreciate.