In 1946, 46-year-old first generation New Orleanian and Italian American, Salvatore “Sam” Diecidue sought a way to add on to his 9th Ward home for his growing family. Supplies were limited at the time because production had shifted to the war effort. Undaunted, Sam found a solution: he would harvest the lumber from a small parcel of land that was given as store-credit to his Sicilian family’s grocery store in Lacombe, LA. That resourcefulness launched one of New Orleans’ most successful family-owned building supply enterprises, Dash Lumber & Supply. Four generations of the Diecidue family – pronounced Dásh-ê-dü – have worked together to provide gypsum, lumber, doors, windows, trim, and many other building essentials, for thousands of residential and commercial building projects across the Gulf South. 2016 marks Dash’s 70th anniversary.
In 1969, the company moved to its current location on Chef Menteur Highway where it expanded its warehouse space in 2004. Another location on St Claude Ave was open in 1980 in place of the Kentucky St house, but later closed in the mid-90’s due to the need for more warehouse and shipping area. The location of the Chef store places the company at the cross roads of many interstates and highways to make delivery efficient.
Although the business suffered extensive flood, wind and equipment damage, Dash was the first lumberyard post-Katrina to open in East New Orleans. The Dash Lumber & Supply team helped hundreds of families get back into their homes after the storm. New Orleans music legend Irma Thomas was one of the homeowners in the area who bought materials from Dash to rebuild her home that was destroyed by flooding. By 2011, the business focus finally began to transition from community rebuild projects, back to new residential projects. The business also saw growth in the commercial and multi-family sector.
Dash continues to offer various lines of gypsum, millwork, plywood, lumber, siding, insulation and hardware. All of their wood products come from renewable resources. The company serves a 60-mile radius, with the largest market share coming from contractors handling residential projects. The company works with more than 60 vendors, enabling Dash to position itself competitively in the market for both residential home quotes and commercial bids with large building material packages. Dash is also involved in a national co-op that enables them to get high quality items at the best prices with well-known brands.
On average, Dash sells about 9 million board feet of lumber annually, and fills more than 20,000 orders each year. Another way to look at Dash’s annual business volume: If the average subdivision development has 48 homes, whose average size is 2400 square feet, Dash’s annual sales volume would match the quantity needed to build homes to fill 10 subdivisions.
Building products sold through Dash can be found in a wide range of structures in New Orleans; from custom-made column capitals for historic uptown New Orleans mansions, to various materials throughout the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music @ Musician’s Village. Dash also provided thousands of interior doors plus materials to create wood cornices for Marriott hotel renovation work at various properties throughout New Orleans.
Sam’s oldest son and business partner, Joe or “Papa”, as he is known affectionately, is 90 years old and still reports to work every day. Michael Diecidue, Joe’s oldest son, is now company President while Terry Diecidue serves as Vice-president and Director of Sales. 35 percent of Dash’s employees have been with the company for more than a decade. Others – like shipping supervisor Schaffer Barclay, outside salesmen Wallace Allen and Bob Burns – have worked with Dash for 20 to 30 years. The Diecidues maintain a philosophy of continuing their staff’s education and training in customer service.
Community service is another tenet of the Dash philosophy: From donating materials to the Tulane School of Architecture to helping NOLA Tilth – a community garden that works in tandem with the VEGGI Farmers’ Cooperative in NO East – Dash has been an active contributor to local non-profit efforts. Earlier this year, a team representing Dash participated in the Crescent City Classic and raised $6,000 in support of New Orleans Musician’s Clinic. The company also recently made a significant materials donation to St. Bernard Project to help a family restore their damaged home, after being forced to wait for 10 years.
With multifamily and commercial work expanding across the state of Louisiana, the growth of New Orleans real estate market, and the Northshore residential market developments, the future of the business is strong and long-lasting. Sam Dash would be very pleased to see what started in his front yard has grown in to something with great community roots and a bright future.