Robert and Donna Plummer operate R.P. Lumber as a family business with their kids Jason, Julie and Jennifer.
R.P. Lumber Company
R.P. Lumber Company was founded in 1977 by Robert and Donna Plummer in Staunton, Ill. A family-owned business, it has grown to now include over 80 full-service hardware and building material stores and two truss manufacturing facilities in five states.
All in the Family
R.P. Lumber remains dedicated to its mission and values as a family-owned and operated company, led by Robert and Donna, along with their three children: Jason, Jennifer and Julie, who are all involved in the business.
Robert serves as president and CEO and Jason wears many hats in his role as vice president, while Donna and Jennifer have always worked in the HR department. Julie managed one of their other companies, a real estate brokerage, for many years until it was acquired and then she came back to R.P. Lumber a few years ago to work on the buying side.
When asked what retail and business philosophies he has learned from his father, Jason replies, “Work hard, treat people right and provide the best service. Two of his favorite sayings are: ‘It never hurts to be nice,’ and ‘You can’t sell from an empty cart.’ It goes back to keeping things simple.”
Each retail location is a full-service home center and building materials supplier that serves both DIYers and contractors and offers kitchen cabinets, paint, windows, doors, hardware, drywall, roofing supplies, tools and more.
A Plan For Growth
In recent years, the company has been managing an aggressive growth strategy. Just last month, R.P. Lumber announced the acquisition of Wright Building Center in Sparta, Ill., expanding its footprint in Illinois to 56 locations.
Adds Robert, “When an opportunity to open a new location or acquire an existing business comes our way, we typically look for small-to-medium sized communities similar to our current markets. We prioritize saving or creating employment opportunities for local residents and look for markets that are relatively underserved in the hardware and building materials space.”
Future initiatives include a store relocation about to kick off in one of their core markets and a new greenfield location they are getting ready to open. “I anticipate a small acquisition or two happening yet in 2023 and then we have plans to expand in 2024. A core focus of our growth is not just increasing store count but making sure we are maximizing our operations in existing markets,” Jason says.
Jason Plummer has served in the Illinois state senate since 2018, relying on principles that have served him well in business.
They look to deliver on the company’s “Best Service. Best Value” promise by focusing on service, product quality and pricing.
Invest In People
As the company’s geographic footprint expands and store count increases, it is important to the Plummers that the company’s culture grows as well. “We keep our organization chart pretty flat and view our employees as extended family members. We celebrate each other’s milestones and achievements. We incentivize extraordinary performance and empower our staff to strike a healthy work-life balance,” says Jason.
“We have been fortunate to have been able to put together a great team at R.P. Lumber, people who are dedicated and work hard. One thing about our team is that we just go to work every day. Whether it is eight stores or 80 stores, we show up to compete every day and try to find ways to constantly improve,” adds Jason.
R.P. Lumber’s team members deliver on the company’s “Best Service. Best Value.” promise with every customer they serve. The operation prides itself on service, product quality and pricing while driving value for its customers through a combination of those three components.
“We have to invest in the knowledge, inventory and equipment to make our largest, most sophisticated customers pleased with R.P. Lumber, while also making sure that the DIYer coming in for a roll of duct tape has a phenomenal experience,” says Jason, who serves on the board as president of the Illinois Lumber and Material Dealers Association.
The company has remodeled six locations this year, focusing on a better retail consumer experience.
Driving Improvements With Technology
R.P. Lumber has invested in technology to improve operational efficiencies and drive traffic online. The company offers a robust ecommerce platform and is constantly investing in and upgrading its IT operations to obtain more data and leverage that data to better serve customers. In 2022, the company upgraded its Epicor POS system across all locations and implemented a fully integrated ecommerce platform with ship-to-store capabilities.
One recent technology development has been a new software program to train employees and provide them with additional knowledge. This training will lead to quicker and more seamless communication between employees, no matter where they are located. The company has invested in reporting and data analytics software to provide additional tools to employees and offer a higher level of service to customers.
In all communities where R.P. Lumber has stores, it invests in local organizations such as law enforcement and first responders.
“We have been fortunate to have had great customers, vendors and partners over the years, and Orgill is right there at the top in every way I can think of,” says Jason. “They are flexible, creative and bring solutions to us that we may not have even thought about yet. I truly feel like they are committed to our business and everyone on their team is approachable and engaged.”
The company has remodeled six locations this year, focusing on a better retail consumer experience, and has added more than 250,000 square feet of warehouse space across all stores in the last 12 months. R.P. Lumber is rolling out new kitchen and deck design programs at dozens of store locations in 2023 and 2024.
The company was a major contributor to the R.P. Lumber Center, a recreational complex located in Edwardsville, Ill., that offers the community access to an ice rink, fitness center and track.
Engaged in the Community
In all communities where R.P. Lumber has stores, it shows its support by investing in local organizations such as law enforcement and first responders, youth sports, scouts, churches, healthcare, education and many other causes. “We have been blessed and we always want to give back,” explains Jason.
The family business was a recent major contributor to the R.P. Lumber Center, a recreational complex located in Edwardsville, Ill., that offers its residents and the surrounding communities a year-round destination for fitness and congregating with its ice rink, fitness center and track. The facility, which serves thousands of families in the St. Louis area, includes a teen center and private rooms for meetings and celebrations.
The company helped fund the all-ages Plummer Family Sports Park, an 83-acre tournament-quality facility featuring lighted, full-synthetic turf baseball and softball fields, pickleball courts and nine full-size multisport fields. for soccer, football, rugby, lacrosse and more.
As a second-generation leader, Vice President Jason Plummer seeks growth through acquisitions and internal improvements.
“We feel like little things like hard-surfacing our facilities, keeping them painted and well-kept, replacing older buildings with newer buildings, providing quality jobs and other day- to-day business decisions we make also contributes to our communities in ways that may not always happen elsewhere,” says Jason.
Jason says the whole family is proud to accept recognition as Beacon Award winners on behalf of their hard-working team of employees: “The recognition is truly an honor and it is humbling. We have hundreds of hardworking, caring team members and we have thousands of great partners and customers. This is an award that reflects that hard work and those relationships.”