A business with strong Ellensburg ties is making its mark on building projects around the region and the nation.
Matheus Lumber is a family business, starting at the top with CEO Gary Powell. His brother Dan Powell is vice president of the company and the manager of daily operations in Ellensburg. The company has about 85 employees companywide, and about 10 at the Ellensburg office.
In 2013 Matheus Lumber grew sales by 71 percent according to Pro Sales Magazine.
The lumber company made $214 million in sales, up from 2012’s total of $125 million. It ranked 19th in the nation among industry in the ProSales 100, rankings based on a company’s sales to professional builders and contractors, according to Pro Sales Magazine.
The Ellensburg branch, a distribution facility that opened in 2002, makes up about 10 percent of annual company sales, said Dan Powell.
“We’ve been in business since 1932,” Dan Powell said. “You have a lot of network marketing that goes on that carries over. People hear your name. If you do the right things all the time it gets out.”
The Powell family became the third generation of owners in 1985 when Dan, Gary, J.R. Reynolds and Stuart Hagen purchased the business from the previous owners.
Many of the employees at the Ellensburg office are part of the Powell family.
In Ellensburg Dan Powell works with his wife, Schalan, son, Damon, daughter, Shanna, brother, Dave as well as his brother-in-law Les Pennington and his nephew Zac Powell.
“It can be challenging at times, but we all get along pretty well,” Powell said. “It’s family.”
His wife, Schalan Powell, said it’s a team atmosphere.
“You also tend to be more honest with each other,” she said of working with family.
Matheus Lumber started in 1932 in Seattle when William (Bill) Matheus founded the company.
In 1942 Matheus furnished the bulk of the lumber used for the Bailey Bridge Program, a pre-fabricated, truss bridge used by the British and American military engineering units during WWII. The wood and steel bridge pieces were light enough to be carried in trucks and put into place by hand, and the bridges were strong enough to carry tanks.
In 1962 the company supplied materials to the seven projects at Seattle’s World Fair. Two years later the second generation of the Matheus family took over the business, and in 1964 it became incorporated.
Matheus Lumber has locations in Ellensburg, Woodinvillle, Vancouver, Mobile, Ala., Post Falls, Idaho, Arizona and San Marcos, Texas.
During the recession it expanded into Arizona and Texas, and now San Marcos, Texas, is one of the top locations for sales, along with headquarters in Woodinville. The company ships to locations across the U.S.
Clients in Central Washington are builders in Ellensburg, Moses Lake, Wenatchee, Yakima and the Tri-Cities.
In Kittitas County, Matheus Lumber has provided wood for most of the projects at Central Washington University for the past 10 years, said Casey Smith, a salesman for Matheus Lumber. Smith started working for the company as a Central intern 11 years ago, and enjoyed the business.
Suncadia has been a large client for the business, as Matheus Lumber provided most of the wood for the first houses there as well as the Lodge at Suncadia.
“We provide 85 percent of the lumber up there,” Powell said.
Other projects include Hogue Hall at CWU and Kittitas High School, among others.
“Our wood is mostly from the Northwest: Canada, wood from Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and some from California,” Powell said.
The Ellensburg distribution site has about 1/2 million board feet of wood in stock at a time.
People working on smaller projects like home renovations can also purchase wood from Matheus Lumber’s yard. Hours are Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.