On a frigid day on January 17, 1977, R.P. Lumber Co. Inc. opened its doors for the first time in Staunton, Ill. The young entrepreneur that opened the doors that day didn’t see a customer for three days and battled a bitter winter, but today the company operates 81 lumberyards, two components manufacturing facilities, a farm and ranch retail subsidiary with 22 locations, and is involved in numerous other business and civic ventures. Most importantly, perhaps, the company provides good jobs to more than 2,000 families across the Midwest.
R.P. Lumber is celebrating 45 years since Robert and Donna Plummer—school teachers at the time—took a big risk and put everything they had into a rough, vacant property in the small Illinois community of Staunton.
“When I was growing up my family did not have much. I always dreamed one day I would be able to build a business that would help provide for others. The number of jobs we provide is a metric that matters to me. When I was a young kid, I always said I wanted to create 1,000 jobs. The fact that we have met and surpassed that number means so much to me. It’s not always just a business’ top line and bottom line, it’s what I believe our company means to a lot of families and a lot of communities,” said Robert Plummer, who still serves as R.P. Lumber’s chairman and president. “We’re in it for the long haul because we want to have a positive impact on families and communities.”
Since its humble beginnings in 1977, R.P. Lumber has slowly expanded, bringing jobs and its industry-leading “Best Service” to communities. In the mid-1990s the company added locations in Illinois and entered Missouri for the first time. In the early 2000s the company expanded into northern Illinois and deepened its reach across central and southern Illinois. In the 2010s the company added locations throughout Missouri and Illinois and, most recently, in 2021 and 2022 the company added locations in Wyoming, Iowa and Wisconsin, while pursuing thoughtful expansion opportunities in its original two states of Illinois and Missouri.
Through the years, the company has added components to the business such as kitchen design, retail showrooms, manufacturing and e-commerce, while constantly trying to improve the product selection, delivery capabilities and overall company focus on “Best Service” to its core pro customers.
“We have worked hard, of course, but our real focus is on gratitude right now,” said Robert Plummer. “You can only build a durable business in our industry if you work hard, stay focused and have good team members, good customers, good vendor relationships and good bank relationships. We’ve been tremendously blessed that we have those four things. So, today is really about saying ‘thank you’ to them. Donna and I want to thank each and every one of our great team members, customers, vendors, bankers and other partners that work with us every day and helped us grow this company for the last 45 years.”