A Big Deal for R.P. Lumber

A major acquisition is based on family-business values.

Article by HBS Dealer originally appeared here in HBS Dealer.

a close up of a sign
Alexander Lumber counts five generations of family ownership.

In a move described as the coming together of two family businesses, R.P. Lumber Co., Inc. is acquiring long-time competitor Alexander Lumber Co.

Headquartered in Aurora, Ill., Alexander Lumber is a 130-year-old family-owned company operating locations in Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa. The transaction, financial terms of which were not disclosed, is expected to close Dec. 3.

The move marks continued growth for Edwardsville, Ill.-based R.P. Lumber , which opened its first location in Staunton, Ill. in 1977. The company’s holdings include 74 locations throughout Illinois, Missouri, Wyoming, and Iowa, along with a truss manufacturing facility in central Illinois and an e-commerce platform.

A wholly-owned subsidiary, R.P. Home & Harvest operates 22 farm and ranch lifestyle stores across Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio.

In early 2021, R.P. Lumber entered the Iowa market by acquiring three locations in two separate transactions. The retailer is currently expanding its Missouri footprint with the development of three new locations in the southwestern portion of the state.

Once we decided it was time to make this change, our goal was to find another family-owned company—rather than a private-equity backed competitor.

Watt Alexander

With the acquisition of Alexander Lumber, R.P. Lumber gains a foothold in Wisconsin, thanks to two stores and a sales office. Additionally, Alexander Lumber brings a tradition of service and quality, said Robert L. Plummer, president and CEO of R.P. Lumber.

“Alexander Lumber has always led by example,” Plummer said. “They are an industry giant with deep roots and a sterling reputation that has remained intact for decades. We are in a tough business and they are a company that I have always admired. Alexander Lumber leadership cares deeply about their staff and customers, and we intend to preserve that commitment.”

Alexander Lumber was established in 1891. The building materials and hardware retailer grew rapidly in tandem with the westward expansion of the United States railway system, operating as many as 100 lumberyards by the late 1920s. 

“For five generations, Alexander Lumber has been our family’s identity,” said Watt Alexander, Board Chair of Alexander Lumber. “It has shaped our lives and our relationships to one another, but time has caught up with us.

“Once we decided it was time to make this change, our goal was to find another family-owned company—rather than a private-equity backed competitor—where business decisions affecting our people and our customers would be made for long-term goals, instead of cashing out every few years to redeem investors.” Alexander said. “We think we’ve found that in R.P. Lumber and the Plummer family.”

“At the end of the day, our industry is not a big industry.  It’s a pretty small world full of salt-of-the-earth people,” Plummer added. “We are honored and humbled that the Alexander family has entrusted to us this great business their family built over 130 years.”

a sign in front of a building
R.P. Lumber was founded by Robert and Donna Plummer in 1977.