Tomah Lumber celebrates 90 years in business
Stability and service is generally a solid equation for success.
Those factors have calculated into a successful equation for Tomah Lumber, observing 90 years in business this year. The business is a fixture on Superior Avenue near the railroad tracks.
"Tomah Lumber has lasted 90 years strong specifically due to the superb employees willing to go the extra mile to add the needed service with our quality products," said owner Travis Boettcher. "With an excellent growing community full of great customers we are poised to be here as an independent lumber yard for many years to come. Providing excellent customer service combined with quality materials never goes out of style."
Tomah Lumber's history
On October 15, 1929 the Ben Nuzum Lumber Company’s retail yard was sold to G.K. Mork and the origination of Tomah Lumber & Fuel Co. was born. Mork operated the new Tomah Lumber & Fuel Co. with his two sons Philip and Alden Mork.
At that time materials were brought into the yard by rail and then delivered to jobsites by horses and mules. In 1954 Harold Eggleson, Mork’s son-in-law, joined the firm and took over ownership responsibilities after Mork’s death in 1954.
A sense of pride with local owners over the years helped spur Tomah Lumber's commitment to quality over the decades.
Eggleson hired local resident Tom Baumgarten in 1971 to manage the drafting and design department as well as becoming the company’s sales manager.
Steve Austin, also a local resident, was hired by Eggleson in 1981 after graduating with a degree in residential design. Eggleson sold Tomah Lumber to Steve Austin and Tom Baumgarten in 1985. In January of 2001 Tom Baumgarten retired and Jan Murray transitioned from sales manager to partner with Steve Austin.
Also in January of 2001 Travis Boettcher was brought into the office to assist in design and sales. In 2012 Travis Boettcher purchased the lumber yard from Steve and Jan.
At the end of 2012 Eric Hall was hired to assist in design and sales and in 2019 has now become part owner of Tomah Lumber.
Looking to the future
Boettcher points to another equation that helped Tomah Lumber prosper for 90 years, quality building materials with unmatched customer service.
"Unlike many of the competitors we strive to order the best lumber possible so customers are not sorting through piles to find the straight pieces necessary to complete the project," Boettcher said.
Delivery of supplies are free with qualifying purchase and installation of the products purchased is also available. Tomah Lumber offers a wood shop for all the custom cutting needs and fasteners are sold by the handful to save the customer from buying way more than needed. Tomah Lumber has carpenters on staff and owns a variety of residential building lots within Tomah to assist in the home building process.
"This allows us to offer a completed package price from concept to completion," Boettcher said.
Tomah Lumber faces the same challenges as other construction/lumber related businesses
"The lack of qualified labor is really the largest hurdle," Boettcher said. "We have had some recent retirements and finding the right fit to replace them has been challenging. This also seems to be affecting other sub-contractors we work with as well as suppliers which in turn slows down productivity waiting for products to arrive and project phases to be completed."
There is more to meets the eye for those unfamiliar with the workings of a lumber yard. Some of the older buildings could tell some interesting stories.
"The customer may not notice, but even though Tomah Lumber has been here since 1929 as products have evolved and packaging has changed we have had to adjust the storage in our buildings to accommodate," Boettcher said. "It is certainly satisfying reviewing the space we have and finding more efficient ways to store and access items. Sometimes you wish these buildings could talk as they have been used in so many different ways."