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Q&A: Quality Control, Service, and Growth

CEO Jonathan Ulrich of Ulrich Barn BuildersYou can build the best sheds around, but if you don’t sell them, you won’t be in business very long.
Ulrich Barn Builders in Cleburne, Texas, uses the “corporate store” model to move its structures from the lot to the customer’s back yard.
We spent some time with CEO Jonathan Ulrich to learn more about him, the company, and its method of business.

How did Ulrich Barn Builders get started? What’s its history?

In 1990, Jerry Ulrich founded Bluegrass Portable Buildings as a family-owned business in Kentucky. Ten years later, Jerry relocated to Texas, and he and his son, David, co-founded Ulrich Barn Builders in Cleburne. Today I am the president/CEO and majority shareholder.
At Ulrich, we pride ourselves in being the premier provider of backyard structures, offering you everything you want and need for storage and recreation. As a complete manufacturing and retail company, Ulrich is able to bring you a full array of quality backyard structures, including storage sheds, cabin shells, playhouses, horse barns, garages, man caves, and she sheds, as well as finished log cabins. Something for every ranch and backyard.

Tell the readers a little about yourself and your role in the company.

I built my first shed at age 8 and have worked throughout all positions in the company. Since age 15, I’ve worked full time in the family business and started in sales, selling 523 storage sheds my first year.
Today, I serve as president/CEO of Ulrich Barn Builders LLC, the storage shed and log cabin manufacturing company, and also serve as president of Ulrich Barn Rentals LLC dba Backyard Leasing, a shed rent-to-own company. Before serving as president/CEO, I served as vice president for six years. I’ve been blessed to recruit a management team that combined, has over 160 years experience in the backyard products industry.
I’m passionate about servant leadership and growing the organization with biblically based leadership principles. My life was greatly influenced by Zig Ziglar at a young age and from whom I adopted “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want” as a personal mantra.
On a personal level, I was born as a missionary kid while my parents served in Costa Rica. Later, met the love of my life, Raquel, to whom I’m now happily married. Together we have three beautiful children. I’m fluent in English and Spanish and have extensively traveled Central and South America. My hobbies are fishing, golf, and, of course, our beautiful kids.

Why does Ulrich Barn Builders use the “corporate store” model?

Ulrich uses the corporate store model as it gives us complete control over the quality and level of service of the entire client experience.
Unfortunately, the majority of our industry has a very low level of customer service, and this helps us differentiate ourselves to our clients, leading the way from mediocre customer service to creating raving fans. In our culture satisfied clients are considered to be the new “unhappy” client.

What, in your opinion, does it take to make the model successful?

It takes a significant investment in the future and a driven and professional sales and leadership team to make a corporate store successful. With the significant overhead that the corporate store model has versus a dealer consignment model, it is difficult to justify the added upfront investment for most companies.
It also locks you into a location for a significant period of time, so extensive market research, demographic research, along with a lot of other metrics are imperative to consider in order to achieve success for each store. The cost to relocate stores are very high compared to that of a dealer consignment model, so success at each new store is vital to a robust organization.

Ulrich Barn Builders uses the “corporate store” model to sell its structures.
Ulrich Barn Builders uses the “corporate store” model to sell its structures.

What does the future hold for you and Ulrich Barn Builders?

Over the last number of years I have worked tirelessly to transition from a mom and pop company to a professional, strong and fast growth organization while focusing intensely on culture, core values and bringing the absolute best value to our team and clients. This positioned us for the aggressive growth we experienced not only this year but even more over the next five years. From our strategic partnerships with vendors to the industry leading employee-based marketing, sales and finance teams, along with corporate leadership having over 150 years combined experience in the industry, Ulrich has positioned itself at the very leading edge of the industry.
With Ulrich’s culture, we have been able to attract top talent in order to build a winning team in order to make this happen. Plans for six to eight new stores are in the works over the next thirty-six months. We also believe the future of the industry lies in creating a “lifestyle” around sheds and cabins and are proud to be on the leading edge of the next era for our industry.


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