R.P. Lumber Celebrates 45-Year Anniversary

Industry News,

Originally Published by: LBM Journal — January 18, 2022
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R.P. Lumber store front.

On a frigid January 17, 1977, R.P. Lumber Co., Inc. opened its doors for the first time in Staunton, Illinois. 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 over 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.”

Robert and Donna Plummer with an anniversary cake

Robert and Donna Plummer.

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.

An old RP Lumber truck with two men standing in front

R.P. Lumber truck in 1977.

“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, what today is really about is 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.”