With a wagon full of lumber, McIndoe Alexander, at the age of 23, left his home and job in Wausau, Wis., in 1880 and headed West to start a lumberyard. After arriving in Mankato, Minn., he decided to backtrack to a town he had previously passed through. Owatonna, with its rich agriculture and a population of 3,000 became his home, as the company website details.
McIndoe started his business in 1883; naming it Wausau Lumber Company, at the time it was the third lumber and coal yard in Owatonna.
The lumberyard thrived and within eight years (1891) McIndoe bought out his partner and renamed the business M.S. Alexander Lumber Company. That same year, McIndoe Alexander married and built a house at 128 West Rice Street in Owatonna.
Embracing technology, McIndoe owned one of the first automobiles in Owatonna, had one of the first business phones (phone number 61), and brought Owatonna its first delivery truck (which has been donated to the Owatonna Historical Society).
After McIndoe’s death in 1927, the lumberyard was taken over by McIndoe’s sons, Mark and Donald Alexander. Mark operated the lumberyard while Donald handled the Alexander Farm, located west of Owatonna, now the current industrial park. Both the farm and lumberyard offices were located in the store.
The family purchased the National Farmer’s Bank when it collapsed due to the Agricultural Depression of 1926. Mark Alexander became the bank’s pfor some time and served on the bank board for 17 years. It is believed the Alexanders sold the bank around 1950.
In 1976 the store was remodeled, adding a large hardware line, additional lumber inventory and a decorating center.
In 1988, after John Alexander’s sudden death, Dennis Meillier bought the business. Denny remodeled the store to its current look and he and he son, Josh Meillier, are the owners to this day. With much foresight, over a period of 13 years, land located just east of the lumberyard was purchased. In 2003, seven homes were removed from the newly purchased land and two large warehouses built.
The company continues to grow and is proud of the services it offers the Owatonna community. Established in 1883 and still operating at its originally established location allows Alexander Lumber to remain a humble company. The store is filled with history, all of it easily visible via the memorabilia and photographs displayed throughout the building. Customers can stop in and view the first delivery wagons and sled, as well as pictures showing the days of the horse and buggy.
Alexander Lumber is a proud member of The Hardware Connection Century Club.
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