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Building supply firm that embraces new and used expanding to Cobble Hill

Demxx started with store in Parksville area
Artist's rendering of Demxx's new Cobble Hill location on Fisher Road off the Trans-Canada Highway. Credit: Demxx

If you’re familiar with the eclectic commercial strip between Parksville and Coombs, you’ve probably noticed Demxx and the sprawling retail yard overflowing with everything from fencing and windows to reclaimed old-growth fir and clawfoot bathtubs.

It’s a dream for price-conscious do-it-yourselfers and a haven for small contractors looking for kitchen cabinets, extra doors, plywood, flooring, metal cladding, bricks and concrete blocks — you name it.

Even the kitchen and bathroom sinks.

There are new products, reclaimed items, B-grade merchandise and extras from manufacturers and construction sites big and small.

Demxx recently added a furniture and retail outlet on the edge of Parksville, and is following its explosive growth with a new location currently under construction at Cobble Hill.

“We’ve been growing like an invasive weed … that’s a good complaint,” says David Behan, who owns Demxx with his wife, Sharla Behan.

He said the company has seen 20% growth each year since buying Demxx six years ago from retiring founder Alan Parkin, who started the company in 1996.

The company said it wants to take advantage of the proximity to the Capital Regional District and the booming construction market and increasing population.

The Cobble Hill location on Fisher Road off the Trans-Canada is expected to open in the spring with a 27,500-square-foot, three-level store. The top two levels will be dedicated to all-wood furniture and cabinets and other home decor, while the ground floor will have lumber, windows and doors, metal products and other construction materials.

Behan said what makes the business model successful is its ever-changing product lines.

“We don’t carry what everyone else carries, and we don’t care if it’s new or used,” said Behan.

He said Demxx buys bankruptcies, lumber from teardowns, items with nicks and scratches, used materials — and has suppliers that ship furniture and other items right off factory floors in Indonesia, India and other places.

“There’s lots of options,” he said. “On the used side, we can’t get enough because [at the moment] there’s more demand than supply.”

This summer, Demxx has rounded, clawfoot bathtubs stacked high. They’re classed as B-grades, meaning there are imperfections in the finish, and selling for between $575 and $875. But similar new tubs go for thousands of dollars, Behan said.

Windows and doors have always been a top seller, and especially now as supply chains are backed up, said Behan.

“We’re getting builders who may be short six windows or some doors in their project and have to wait 14 weeks for replacements, so they call us,” said Behan. “We help a lot of people out that way, whether its that builder or a person that just needs a window or a door for a shed or chicken coop.”

Behan said the company always has the staple building products, “but we never know what we’re going to get.

“A company could have two sea cans full … I’ll take them,” he said.

Demxx also buys surplus materials from large construction projects such as new schools and residential apartment blocks. It has also taken inventory from Lowe’s as it transitions from the Rona brand.

“We have a demand and they need to get rid of it,” said Behan.

He said old-growth timber is always in demand, especially in the U.S., where Behan can sell up to 200,00o board-feet at a time to U.S. buyers. Fir, yellow cedar and spruce from teardowns in Courtenay, Nanaimo and Vancouver also makes it way into retail operations at Coombs.

He estimates Demxx diverts the equivalent of a 40-foot tractor trailer units of material away from landfills every week, and that includes waste steel, wiring and bricks and concrete blocks, which all can repurposed.

Demxx recently bought out the entire movie set of Chesapeake Shores, a Hallmark series filmed over six years in the Qualicum Beach area and recently wrapped. Behan said all of the set furniture and equipment filled seven trucks.

Behan, a native of Ireland who emigrated to Canada in 1983, was a developer and builder on the Island and later went to the work in the oilpatch in Alberta. His wife, Sharla, is a Nanaimo native.

Demxx currently employs 32 employees in Parksville and Coombs, has its own fleet of trucks and contracts work to Kingsley Trucking.

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