At the age of 14, Bradley Lavery was kicked out of high school. Now, he is the CEO of one of the nation’s fastest growing companies, Western Timber Frame, the country’s premier custom timber-kit vendor. “Improving the quality of lives through celebrating relationships while creating inspiring environments,” he says, “that is our vision.”
Western Timber Frame offers custom-made timber kits for outdoor living spaces such as pavilions, gazebos, pergolas, and more. “Someone can call from New York needing a custom timber-kit,” Lavery says, “and within a couple weeks we’re shipping a kit that they can install themselves.” The company was chosen for Best of State in Wood Products and Outdoor/Recreational Equipment in 2017, as well as Best of HOUZZ in 2016 and 2017. In addition to that, Western Timber Frame has been listed in Inc. 5000 for three consecutive years, as well as being featured in Entrepreneur 360 this year.
After being kicked out of high school, Lavery began his career in the construction industry, and three years later he was starting his own construction companies. “One got fairly large and was fairly successful,” he says, “but then I moved out of that into the financial industry.” However, the “end of the world” came around in 2008, Lavery recalls. “Everything just crashed, and people that owed me over one million dollars just disappeared. So I ended up shutting down all my businesses and starting over.”
Lavery spent the next six months contemplating what to do next. “I decided that whatever I do,” he says, “I wanted to create as many career opportunities as possible for family, friends, loved ones, and people I knew.”
In 2009 he was approached with an idea for timber-kits. “I thought about it for a few weeks and did some research analysis” he says, “and I found that it was so new, that I knew we could own this industry.” So he began Western Timber Frame, and by its third year, he says, it was the foremost authority on custom timber-kits in the nation.
From there, the growth was phenomenal. “I’d say we’ve averaged” says Lavery, “about 30% growth year over year for the last ten years.”
The key to Western Timber Frame’s success and excellence, Lavery says, is its team–the heart and soul of the company. “I hire people smarter than me,” he says, “and recognize where my strengths are–but most importantly–what my weaknesses are.” His team is like a bus, he says, “we’ve got the right people on the bus, and every once in a while we just need to shift where they’re sitting.”
James Adair, an employee of Western Timber Frame, loves his work and the opportunity it presents. “When I started there were 9 employees,” he says, “now there are 35.” One thing that sets this company apart as special, he says, is its ability to “track and adapt to the market.”
When starting the company, Lavery participated in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program–a program that helps new entrepreneurs in getting off the ground. When he discovered the program, it was exactly what he was looking for. “I had considered going to college,” he says, “but I would have to go to school for two years before I could get into what was relevant and applicable for me.”
So when he found the Goldman Sachs program, he saw it as a no-brainer. “It was real, raw, and relevant,” he says, “it was what I needed.”