Moving A Lumberyard — 
“How do you move a lumberyard?”…a question we have been asked over the last few years.

The Gilcrest/Jewett Lumber Company downtown yard and offices were located in the path of the Martin Luther King Bypass; and the city of Des Moines and the Iowa Department of Transportation determined that they needed to “acquire” our property and buildings.

Our business, founded in 1856 in downtown Des Moines, consists of building material retail sales, distribution, and millwork manufacturing. A new site with railroad service that could accommodate all of these needs was found in Waukee, Iowa on Alice’s Road at University Avenue.

The next challenge – the move. The City could find no one, movers or engineering firms, who had either the experience of moving a lumberyard, or who wanted to. This displacement, as a City consultant reported, necessitated moving three buildings with 100,000 square feet of an entire stock of inventory of a full service lumber company, approximately 10,000 SKU numbers, along with the machinery, equipment, office furniture, supplies, et cetera inherent in the operation of a business of this type.

Planning “the move” began in early 1999 with countless hours of meetings and employee focus groups. Pre-construction of hundreds of storage racks started that summer. Storage racking, or bins that hold boards and mouldings, had to be in place in Waukee before material could begin to move out of the existing storage racks.

The actual move. It started slowly, built to a fever pitch in October 1999, and continued until March of 2000. The entire staff (100 energetic souls) said that they welcomed the challenge of moving everything themselves while at the same time maintaining our deliveries and customer service. The 22-mile round trip was made hundreds of times with over 70 of our cars, pickups, straight trucks, van trucks, and semi’s. Imagine everything that had to be moved…train loads of lumber and plywood; thousands of doors, windows, and parts; hundreds of rolls of carpet; hardware, nails, insulation, trim and mouldings, siding, and roofing; saws, planners, pre-hanging equipment, air lines and compressors; dust collection systems, furniture, files, telephone systems, point-of-sale computer system, security systems, and two-way radio systems; racking, a truck mechanic shop with parts and equipment, hundreds of steel racks, and 20 fork lifts.

Except for the office furniture, our team handled the entire move while maintaining our commitment to customer service. This is the same group, by the way, that didn’t miss a beat during the 1993 flood when our downtown property was under water. We have come to refer to these two events as our “Corporate Outward Bound” experiences.

A special thanks goes out to our customers for their flexibility and understanding during both the move and the flood. They were terrific.

Locations:
Altoona
5660 NE Hubbell Ave.
515-957-0027
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Coralville
758 Camp Cardinal Blvd
319-338-0089
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Marion
3115 7th Avenue
P.O. Box 347
319-377-1593
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Waukee
1100 SE Alice’s Road
P.O. Box 1000
515-987-3600
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