Last of Second Generation Noonan’s Retires from Cascade

Industry News,

Originally Published by: Cascade Pioneer — November 29, 2023
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After 45 years at Cascade Lumber, John Noonan became the last of the founder’s four sons to retire from the business founded in 1953 by Ray Noonan Sr. and passed into the hands of his four sons, Ray Jr., Mike, Pat and John, as well as his son-in-law John Althoff, the husband of his daughter Mary Beth.

From left, John Noonan and Mike Noonan stand in the Heritage Room at Cascade Lumber.

Noonan officially started working at Cascade Lumber in 1978, but said he’d been doing work since he was 10, picking up trash for 50 cents an hour. After his official hiring, he worked a variety of jobs over the years including making small deliveries, waiting on customers, loading, assisting yard people and running the counter. He eventually started taking on purchasing duties until he became the central purchaser for retail commodities and building materials.

According to Noonan, the retail branch of Cascade Lumber was growing into a larger part of the business in his early years of employment.

“Since the time I started in the 1980s, our company was heavily leaning into manufacturing and invested in agriculture, but we all know about the recession and farm crash in the 80s. About the time I started, we decided to add to our retail and enlarge it. We would concentrate on manufacturing, but maintain a presence in our market for retail to provide food, shelter and clothing.”

John Noonan holds his granddaughter Ella Rose Ubben.  Now retired from the Cascade Lumber Company, Noonan plans to spend as much time with his family as he can.

While his brothers worked in manufacturing, and his brother-in-law mainly on finance, Noonan focused on the growing retail branch. He said it suited his personality as he enjoyed talking with people and making friends among his customers and suppliers all over the country.

“I really grew to like it. Anyone who knows me knows I have the gift of gab. I got to know people and appreciate them. That’s where business acumen comes, from observation. It’s what you really start to enjoy as a people person. They trusted me, and that’s a great thing.”

Noonan officially retired from the position of retail marketing and central purchaser for building materials Oct. 17, the anniversary of when he met his wife in 1981. During retirement he plans to travel with his wife and be more actively involved in groups like the Tri-County Historical Society and Cascade Enhancement Group. He would also like to start beekeeping on the Noonan family farm in Garryowen and spend as much time as he can with his three kids, their spouses and five grandchildren.

While Noonan’s brother-in-law Althoff is the last member of the second generation currently working at Cascade Lumber, Noonan said six members of the family are in line to be the third generation running it, keeping in line with the generational philosophy his father instilled in him and his brothers.

“My father once said of the business, ‘You run it like farmers. Farmers know that they’ll put back into the business every year. They’ll be comfortable, but at the end of the day, you pass it on to the next generation.’ That’s the philosophy we were taught and I hope it continues today.”