Lumber company considers move to site along highway
The owners of Himpel Lumber are investigating how much it would cost to move their downtown company to a site on U.S. Highway 24-40.
Charlie and Sheri Ussery, who have operated the lumber company for 17 years, own property on the north side of U.S. Highway 24-40, between Kan Gas and Vet Vax.
"We are having some people working up some estimates for us on what it would take to go out there and build," Charlie Ussery said. "We have contacted a couple of different firms."
He's hoping the cost will be right.
"I think we would act on that right away if it's affordable," Ussery said. " I think you could be looking at anywhere from 12 to 16 months from the time you make the decision to move."
Several years ago, the Usserys realized developers were purchasing highway frontage. The couple knew they could wait no longer to pick up additional land.
"We bought the property on the highway after we'd been seeing what was happening to the land along the highway," Charlie Ussery said. "Even then, it was starting to be slit up into smaller lots it takes a lot of area to do a lumber yard."
The existing lumber yard, which includes 4,500 square feet of retail space, as well as storage buildings, has claimed its home at Fifth and Pleasant streets since 1973, when Bo Himpel started the business. Ten years later, he sold it to the Usserys.
Despite increased competition from large home-improvement retail stores, Ussery said his business has steadily grown. The bulk of the company's customers are contractors.
"While that's still what we consider the major part of our business, the walk-in trade has grown tremendously over the years," Ussery said.
Also, he noted, the trade area has expanded.
"We take jobs to Valley Falls and Lawrence, and over into Johnson County mainly for contractors," Ussery said.
He said he's never regretted buying the lumber yard, in part because of the solid start Bo Himpel gave the business.
Himpel is retired, yet almost every day his brown pickup truck is parked across the street from the lumber yard.
"He hasn't been a partner in the business for approximately 16 years and yet he still comes in with the same enthusiasm, the same drive and the same concerns as if he owned it," Ussery said.