Farewell to Russ Lott after 33 Years at New South Construction Supply

Farewell to Russ Lott after 33 Years at New South Construction Supply

Today, July 1, is Russ Lott’s last day at New South Construction after a 33 year career with the company — the longest running associate and an incredible salesperson out of the Greenville, SC branch. Before his last day, we asked Russ a few questions to hear more about his career, his favorite moments, advice for those wanting a career in the industry, and what his retirement plans are.

Jim Sobeck, CEO, remembers being told during his due diligence during the process of buying New South by his next door neighbor, Lynn Yeargin, CEO of Yeargin, Potter, Smith Construction, “Don’t buy New South unless Russ Lott comes with you. He is the franchise.” Jim said he’s glad he heeded those words. They were very true.

Russ, thank you for your hard work, leadership, trust and carrying out the #KnowHowCanDo attitude. We wish you the best in your retirement, and your NSCS team and customers will miss you greatly.

Q&A with Russ Lott on his 33 New South Construction Supply Career

  • What was your most memorable moment with NSCS or with NSCS clients?

One of the most memorable moments was the weekend we moved from the little garage warehouse to the location on White Horse Road. We started moving at close of business on Friday and moved through the whole weekend. I think it was maybe a total of four of us and we hauled everything on a gooseneck trailer with a Ford Super Duty Truck. We worked around the clock but opened for business Monday morning. We were worn out.

Another moment is I had to put a sample of a product down at Duke Power Bad Creek. It took over eight hours to pass all the background checks. I sat in a waiting room the whole time to get a clearance badge. The product was going on concrete that was located directly under the nuclear reactors. That was a very eerie feeling knowing how much power and also danger was a mere 30’ above me. Took 10 minutes to put the sample down. All that for 10 minutes of work. The sample failed too so it was a lot of effort for no return. Still was pretty interesting knowing I was in an area few people had ever seen.

  • Was there a project you’re most proud that NSCS/you were in involved with?

No project really stood out. I simply liked them all.

  • What did you like most about your career?

I liked the freedom the job offered. I’m not one who likes to be bothered much and this job offered the opportunity to manage my time and efforts as I saw fit.

  • Anything you’ll miss?

I will definitely miss the people. I made a lot of friends over the years with both customers and vendors, as well as in New South and will miss the constant contact I had with a lot of them. Our industry is fortunate to have a lot of great personalities and it has been a lot of fun to be around a lot of them. I consider many to be personal friends.

  • What are you most excited for during your retirement? What are your future plans?

My wife, Teresa, and I are planning on selling our home now that the kids are out and moving to the country. We want to downsize some and build a farmhouse with a barn so this should keep us busy for a while but we look forward to it. Might travel a little bit, too.

  • What are the biggest changes you saw in the construction industry during your career?

The biggest changes I saw was the evolution of the general contractor. The first 10-15 years, the general contractor bought the majority of the materials we sold. There weren’t many turnkey subcontractors around. I developed my friendships with the GC because they bought everything and just contracted out the labor. Over the last 15 years or so, the general contractor started using turnkey subs to have the different trades on the job and consequently bought very little. The GC’s found the turnkey subs to do it better and faster and cheaper than they could. With this change, our sales approach had to extend out to calling on the subs as well as GC’s. Made it a little tougher as you had to cast a wider net.

I also saw things go from cell phones and pagers, to hand-writing quotes, to the fax machine to computers, to email and now texting.

  • Any advice for someone hoping to have a career like you had?

If I had any advice for someone it would be to realize sales is a marathon more than a sprint. Build friendships with your customers and the sales will follow. It takes a few years to really see the fruits of your efforts if you work steady at it. Selling to folks you like and consider friends is way more fun than just trying to sell people you never really developed a relationship with. Also, enjoy it. One day you will be saying goodbye just like I am. It gets here way faster than you think.

  • You helped to open the 2nd branch in an old gas station. What was that experience like?

I loved the old warehouse. It was a simple block building but had an acre or so of lay down yard. The man who owned the building was a cranky old fella named Mr. Roy. He was a crusty old guy but over time he warmed up to me and I really liked him. Used to bring me fresh boiled corn on the cob in a silver pot. Would sit there talking on the phone and eating fresh corn. Good stuff. We knocked the hanging lights out in the old building so when it got dark and somebody needed us to check stock on something in the warehouse, we would have to drive our vehicles around and shine the lights into the warehouse to see if we had the product in stock. The office was maybe 8’x10’ with two desks and landline phones. It got so loud when people were on both phones it was funny. I wouldn’t trade those years for anything.

  • Anything else you wish to add or note?

The endnote is I have been super fortunate to wind up in an industry that fit my personality and I truly enjoyed it. If someone would have told me when I was in college that one day I would be a salesman peddling building materials I would have told them they were crazy. Looking back, it was destiny. I can’t see myself ever having done anything else.