Archive for Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Himpel Luber Yard expands into former feed store downtown

March 20, 2002

Nails are pounding at Himpel Lumber Co. where after 28 years the walls are expanding.

Charlie Ussery, owner of the business since 1984, said he recently purchased a former feed store from Link Stone. The building, which has 5,000 square feet of floor space, has been vacant for two years.

Ussery is renovating the building to make way for warehouse storage and to add more space to his retail store.

Even though Ussery and his wife, Sheri, had purchased land on U.S. Highway 24-40 on the east edge of Tonganoxie for construction of a new store, they they decided an expansion at their existing site would be wiser, he said.

"We wanted to do something to grow our business," Charlie Ussery said. "But we wanted to be cautious about that and not damage our business long-term this is a more secure step."

A new lumber yard, he said, would have cost about $1.2 million. It made more sense to expand the lumber yard into Stone's property next door.

"We'll be utilizing the space that's available, bringing back the old building and putting it to good use," Ussery said.

While workers have already replaced the flooring in the south part of Ussery's new building, Ussery said the biggest challenge will be renovating the north half where a new roof is needed. And, he noted, pointing to charred beams, the building at one time had burned.

Ussery said he hopes to have renovation completed by summer. And all in all, he's pleased with how addition is taking shape.

"It's cleaning up pretty good," he said.

While most of the new area will be used as a warehouse, a portion will be remodeled to 2,000 square feet of retail space, Ussery said. And the south end of the existing lumber store will be converted into retail space.

This move will allow Ussery to expand his stock.

"We'll have a better selection," he said. "And we'll have better inventory levels."

Jack Laurie, Atchison, a salesman for Blish-Mize, since 1974, has watched Himpel Lumber Co., which was started by Bo Himpel that same year, grow. As Laurie watched the renovation work last Thursday afternoon, he said he saw benefits to Ussery's decision to stay downtown.

"I think this is a very great move," Laurie said. "It helps the downtown stay in place and the biggest thing is he'll be able to serve the community better."

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