R.P. Lumber Is Celebrating 45 Years In Business

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R.P. Lumber Co., Inc. opened its doors for the first time in Staunton, Illinois on a cold January 17, 1977.

The young entrepreneur who opened the doors that day didn’t see a customer for three days and had to battle a harsh winter, but today the company operates 81 lumberyards, two component manufacturing facilities, a farm and ranch retail subsidiary with 22 locations, and is involved in a variety of other business and civic ventures.

Perhaps most importantly, the company employs over 2,000 people across the Midwest.

R.P. Lumber is celebrating 45 years since Robert and Donna Plummer, who were schoolteachers at the time, took a big risk and invested everything they had in a rough, vacant property in the small Illinois town 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,” says 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.”

R.P. Lumber has slowly expanded since its humble beginnings in 1977, bringing jobs and its industry-leading “Best Service” to communities.

In the mid-1990s, the company expanded into Illinois and, for the first time, Missouri.

In the early 2000s, the company expanded into Northern Illinois and expanded its presence in 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 continuing to pursue thoughtful expansion opportunities in its original two states of Illinois and Missouri.

Over the years, the company has added components to the business such as kitchen design, retail showrooms, manufacturing, and e-Commerce, all while striving to improve 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,” Robert Plummer said.

“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.”

Phil is one of our main correspondents based out of Providence, Rhode Island.