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Local company grows, moving to larger location
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Stephen Cofield (left) and Luke Littlefield (right) of The Builder Depot move tiles to a truck for shipping. - photo by Kelly Whitmire

David Shearn took a different course for starting a business. Now he is taking a different approach to running one.

Shearn founded his business, The Builder Depot, in 2009 with the goal of selling flooring tiles, including expensive types and brands, without the built-in costs of doing business.

“I realized that there seemed to be, no matter what you did, the price to the consumer never changed,” he said. “If I were to go into a retailer and say let’s have a sale … and I’ll take 20 percent off, theoretically he should reduce his price by 20 percent.”

“I went through the whole system and removed every single cost and ended up at a price point that was just staggeringly low compared to anybody else.”

That decision paid off for the company, which is planning to move from its current location on Shiloh Road to a new 5-acre fulfillment center this fall. Shearn said the company is the only Google Trusted Store in the industry.

Shearn, an English native who first moved to the states as part of a management program after college, said he never thought the company would grow so large.

“We never expected this,” he said. “I expected to make a living, but I didn’t expect to be hiring people and for people to be managers of other people and having employees with four children and they’re the sole survivor, so you’re kind of responsible for them. It feels far more significant than it ever did.”

The success is a long way from where The Builder Depot began.

Shearn founded the business in his garage in 2009, just as the economy was slipping into recession, and recalls those first days as “awful.”

He said that at the time, he even received a letter a day from his homeowners association for the number of trucks with deliveries coming to his house and had problems with bank accounts.

“I couldn’t even open a business account,” Shearn said. “I didn’t even ask to borrow money. I just said, ‘Can I just open a checking [account]?’ And they said, ‘No, we’re not accepting any business accounts,’ because this was the economic collapse.”

While the cheaper price certainly has allowed the company to move to its current facility, which has already spread to other nearby suites, Shearn credits most of the company’s success to its employees.

While looking to expand the business, he had the option of leaving Forsyth County for downtown Atlanta, but made a decision that would benefit workers.

“The reality is, in retrospect, the difference wasn’t that great,” Shearn said. “But the impact on the people, to be five minutes from your work, to be right around the corner from your child’s school, to have lunch with your family, these benefits are significant, as opposed to fighting two hours of traffic to go downtown.”