Clarity on Its Market Is Driving Home Depot’s Growth 30 Years Later

Last week I shared my takeaways from reading Built from Scratch: How a Couple of Regular Guys Grew The Home Depot from Nothing to $30 Billion, a book about Home Depot’s founding. One thing I learned is that Home Depot’s founders rethought their market, which changed their growth strategy.

They initially went after the do-it-yourself market, which was consumer focused. Then they realized they were serving the home-improvement market. This change in how they thought about and defined their market was important because home improvement included contractors too. Home improvement was a much bigger and more fragmented market than do-it-yourself. This decision played a role in Home Depot’s annual revenue increasing from $20 billion in 1996 to $135 billion in 2023.

Today it was announced that Home Depot is acquiring SRS Distribution Inc., a “distributor of building products . . . serving the professional roofing contractor’s business.” The deal is for about $18.25 billion. The stated logic behind the deal is that it will help Home Depot grow its business with contractors.

The Home Depot’s founders haven’t run the company for over twenty years. But their insight about what their market is and what customers they serve is still driving the growth strategy today, even if it’s growth through acquisition rather than organic growth.

Markets matter a lot more than some entrepreneurs realize. I’d say it’s one of the most important factors that impact business success and growth potential. Building a big business in a small market is hard because there aren’t enough people willing to buy your product or solution. Home Depot’s realization about its market roughly thirty years ago has allowed it to build a massive business, and it still provides growth opportunities, as shown by today’s announcement.