This is the fifth in a series of articles that highlight compelling reasons why all of us in the Kern River Valley should shop locally. You’ll also read a profile of a local business owner and what they are doing to assure a successful business in today’s challenging economic climate.
Did you know?
The local merchants who own and operate small businesses in the Kern River Valley select their products based, not on a national sales plan like the huge chains do, but on the interests and needs of their local customers. This guarantees you not only a broad range of product choices, but also prices that are competitive.
L & M Lumber
It is rare these days that you come across a true family-run, home town business. But that is definitely the case with L & M Lumber. Dell McCollough, president of the company, purchased the business with his father-in-law, Roy LaMere back in 1964. They started off as a tiny lumber operation on Young Avenue in Lake Isabella with only 900-square-feet at their disposal.
Forty-five years later, McCollough and his son, Ryan, now operate a business that boasts 20,000 square feet and a whopping 41,000 items in its regular inventory. Add to that another 45,000-square feet of covered lumber storage, a sizeable garden center and you have all of your home, hardware and outdoor living needs met in one convenient location. As the elder McCollough stated, “Over the years, we’ve mirrored the valley. As it grew, so did we.”
For anyone who hasn’t visited the store since the expansion was completed last year, they’re in for a surprise. The increased space allowed the McCollough’s to increase not only the amount of inventory they carry, but also the variety. The renovated store is well laid out, with large spacious aisles that make for a pleasant shopping experience. But as some things are best left unchanged, they still have the free popcorn for customers on Saturdays and Sundays and the staff is still helpful and friendly.
Today, 60 percent of L & M Lumber’s business comes from local contractors. Ryan McCollough stated, “Our contractors are very important to us. We look on them as our business partners and have a really good relationship with them.” This sentiment was echoed by local contractor, Jim Young, owner of Valley Excavating. “I’ve been coming here for 20 years and my father came here for his plumbing business before that. They always have what I need. And if for some reason they don’t, they do their best to get it for me. And Dell has always given back to the community and that’s important.”
The McCollough’s style of running a business isn’t appreciated just by their customers, but also by their staff. Rob Kirbach, Manager of the Garden Department commented, “There truly is a family atmosphere here at L & M. I’d say they’re old school. They give us a lot of freedom to make decisions and are open to trying new things.”
When asked what he would tell valley residents about shopping locally, Dell McCollough stated, “I’d encourage valley residents to come see us before they make the trip out of town. I check our Bakersfield competitor’s prices frequently. In most areas, we beat them with our selection and prices.”
According to the two men, one of the best things about operating a business for so long is that they have had many young people working for them over the years. They added, “We’ve had a lot of kids here during their high school years. We’ve seen many of them go on in life to do well and raise families of their own. It’s nice to know that we played some small part in that.”
As for raising families, three generations of McCollough’s have now worked in the business. While it’s wonderful working together under the same roof, Dell is quick to add that his children and grandchildren have had an added responsibility. “I’ve always expected a lot from them. They’ve learned the value of excellent customer service and of being responsible. They’ve had to set an example for the other employees and as a result, they've worked hard, if not harder than others.”
L & M Lumber has certainly kept up with the times. Ryan, now the General Manager, has brought the business into the computer age and is the official “IT guy.” Reflecting on working with his father, he stated, “He is a very wise man. After doing this for 44 years, he has a lot of business smarts. He’s given me good direction over the years and has always led by example.” Now Logan McCollough, a freshman in high school is standing in the wings eager to make L & M Lumber his career. It looks like the tradition of the family run business is in no danger of ending anytime soon.
When you’re ready to embark on that next home project, check out L & M’s comprehensive website at www.lmlumber.com. You’ll find useful links to many vendors like Kellogg Garden Products, Milgard Windows and Benjamin Paints. You can also use links to check on the status of rebates, use project calculators, sign up for the ACE reward program or watch interactive project videos.
So next time your in town, drop by and say hi to Dell, Ryan and the rest of the staff. While you’re at it, grab a bag of free popcorn, stroll around the expanded store and check out all of the great stuff they have in just in time for summer. You’ll be glad you did. You can find L & M Lumber at 4700 Lake Isabella Boulevard or give them a call at (760)379-4631.
PHOTO BELOW Ryan McCollough, left, and his father, Dell McCollough, owners of L&M Lumber in Lake Isabella proudly display the recognition they've received for an exceptional volume of paint sales. Administrator, KRVR.org firstname.lastname@example.org
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