A startup built around building materials: Yesler marketplace is like Expedia for the lumber industry

Yesler founder and CEO Matt Meyers, left, and CTO Jeff Lubetkin. (Yesler Photo)

Matt Meyers spent two decades at Weyerhaeuser dealing with product engineering, manufacturing, software engineering, product development, sales and distribution for the giant timber company. He’s spent the past several months building Yesler, a Seattle startup out to transform the lumber and building materials industry.

Yesler recently spun out of the Seattle startup studio Pioneer Square Labs and Meyers, who is founder and CEO, said the idea for the company came directly from the pain points he experienced as an industry operator. He had to plan production without demand and incur excess operations cost and waste. He saw lumber yards suffer losses by not having access to the right products at the right time, place, and price.

“There are extra transactions, extra material movements, and waste all through the channel that compound these problems leading to higher construction costs and ultimately inflating the price of homes,” Meyers said. “Yesler will fix that.”

According to Meyers, the lumber and building materials (LBM) industry doesn’t function like retail grocery, for example, where point-of-sale data flows back up the supply chain to tell a manufacturer to ship another product to a store.

“There is no data flow [in LBM],” Meyers said. “Even worse, some intermediaries derive value from their ability to obscure true information on price and availability. It’s opaque, you have to know the right people to call.”

(Yesler Graphic)

Meyers, who rose to vice president of sales, marketing and supply chain at Seattle-based Weyerhaeuser, is assembling a fast-growing team that he said has more than just empathy for customer pain points. His employees have lived them. CTO Jeff Lubetkin comes from Expedia and Zillow where he led and scaled engineering teams; and Executive VP David Helmers previously led Weyerhaeuser’s $1.5 billion building materials distribution business.

Yesler makes it easier for lumberyards to find and buy what they need, when they need it in one digital marketplace, rather than tracking down what’s available and at what price from a variety of mills. This marketplace also makes the process easier for sellers by consolidating demand in one place.

“It’s like the revolution in travel with Expedia a couple decades ago,” Meyers said “Instead of starting by deciding which hotel chain to call first, now you see all options organized in one marketplace. Yesler will do that for the lumber and building materials industry.”

As a marketplace, Yesler takes a fee per transaction. The seller knows the fee before each transaction and the buyer knows their price was set by the seller, not Yesler.

Meyers was not yet ready to disclose specifics related to Yesler’s investors or the company’s funding. But he did shed some light on where the name comes from.

“Most people know Yesler as the street in Seattle,” he said. “But not everyone knows that it was the original skid road, where logs were skidded to Henry Yesler’s lumber mill on Elliot Bay. Yesler combines the entrepreneurial spirit of the original Seattle lumberman with technology entrepreneurship thriving in Seattle today.”

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