Photo: Manager Bill Ramsey stands at the counter with Michael Hebert, Assistant Manager. (Photo by Dayna Kelley)
Location, expansion, good choices for CSP
By Dayna Kelley
Intern, Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce
When Bill Ramsey began his journey in 1996 with what is now Construction Safety Products, he had no idea of the success story it would be.
The story begins like others in East Texas, with a business based on the logging industry. Prior to Ramsey opening his doors as A-1 Advantage Equipment, loggers drove to Angelina County for logging supplies.
“It didn’t matter if you were coming from Texarkana or where you were going, all of the dealerships were in Lufkin," Ramsey explained.
Ramsey had the idea to open on the north side of the Angelina River, and attract consumers before they got to Lufkin by cutting down the travel distance to get supplies.
When Ramsey first pitched his idea, he received some negative feedback concerning the location. Some warned Ramsey that other businesses had tried this specific location before, but none had prospered. Despite the concerns, Ramsey continued with his plan of opening his store at 408 N.W Stallings Drive in Nacogdoches. He knew this location would be perfect for his logging business.
He was right, and A-1 Advantage Equipment boomed.
Then, late in the summer of 2005, a tropical storm began to form in the Caribbean.
In September 2005, Hurricane Rita plowed into the Gulf of Mexico, causing an estimated $12 billion in damage in the surrounding areas. When Rita’s destructive path trampled through the Nacogdoches area, Ramsey said “there were more than three years worth of trees on the ground,” creating problems for the logging industry and for his business.
To deal with this slow period Ramsey did a lot of research. In 2006 he decided to team up with Construction and Safety Products, owned by Larry Cope, and diversified the store’s merchandise inventory considerably.
Now the store sells everything from beaver traps to chainsaw supplies to surveying equipment. It makes a great one-stop shop for logging equipment and personal items.
The business adapted, and Ramsey strived on providing outstanding customer service and keeping strong personal relationships as keys to staying in operation.
Ramsey's rule for his employees is “don’t say ‘no.' They want a case of toilet paper or a pallet of water, we can get it.”
The many customers that Ramsey sells to are more like family to him. He said that most of the people he worked with when he first started have retired, and the kids and grandkids are now doing business with him.
The future of Construction and Safety Products include a remodel for the Nacogdoches property and possibly new ownership for the company.
The remodel, which will nearly double the size of the store and increase floor and display space, will begin sometime within two years.
"Larry Cope is one of the best sellers that I've seen in my life," Ramsey said. "Mr. Cope is ready to retire and is currently looking for a buyer to purchase all five locations in Little Rock, Nacogdoches, Longview, Alexandria and Shreveport.
Ramsey attributes the store’s success to God, "The Lord has been good to me and to this store."