Lumberyard locates with eye on growth
De Soto's newest lumberyard isn't located at a site that is going to be noticed by thousands of daily commuters.
But Lumber One owner and manager Kevin Strain said the carefully selected site on Sunflower Road south of 95th Street had served the recently opened business well.
"We're really pleased with the first two months," he said. "We typically have 20 loads (of lumber) going out on any given day."
The site in rural Johnson County wouldn't work for a business geared to the home-improvement market. But Strain said that wasn't Lumber One's target market. It's relative isolation just west of the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant offered a number of benefits for a venture more concerned about large volume customers than walk-up business.
And it provided the ideal location to tap into a growing market, Strain said.
"We like the fact growth is developing on the K-10 Corridor and from Lawrence, too," he said. "It got us away from some of the higher lease payments you see in Lenexa and Olathe."
And then there is highway accessibility. Although on a gravel road, a short drive south on Sunflower Road links to Lexington Avenue/103rd Street, and from there, Kansas Highway 10.
That highway accessibility was an important key in serving the contractors and builders that were the heart of the business, Strain said. Its customer base spreads east to Overland Park and north to Kansas City, Kan., and south to Gardner, he said. As the business grew more established, Strain said he hoped to make inroads to the west in Eudora and Lawrence.
Lumber One opened in May with 13 employees.
Despite the reliance on contractors and developers, Strain said the business didn't discourage the weekend carpenter.
"Not at all," he said. "It's kind of funny. I had a guy pull in here the other day asking if he could buy lumber here."
The most-often asked question of De Soto residents was whether the lumberyard had a hardware store. The answer is no -- for now.
"You never know," Strain said. "It's hard to compete with the Home Depots. We have to find our niche."
He was growing the business with a cautious approach, Strain said. In addition to lumber, Lumber One offered doors and windows. Other items would be added as the business grows, he said.
"We're taking a go-slow approach," Stain said.
Lumber One is Strain's latest stop in an adult life spent in the construction and lumber fields. He worked as a house framer out of high school before moving into lumber retail for the last 15 years, a career that included stints at 84 Lumber and Payless Cashways.