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Feature Story

General manager, Dave Iblings, oversees the workforce, manages expenses and assures a safe working environment at Anawalt Lumber in Los Angeles, Calif.

Anawalt: A Towering Presence In West L.A.
By Clare Adrian

Los Angeles, Calif.—The distinctive elephant logo that represents Anawalt Lumber appears to be galloping at full speed, unlike your usual image of an elephant lumbering around sluggishly as sheer size dictates. The logo says a lot about Anawalt: a large imposing presence, but energetic and eager to please.

Of three Anawalt locations in Los Angeles, Calif., the eye-catching structure at the intersection of West Pico Boulevard and Sepulveda is built upon the site of the first Anawalt retail store established in 1923 by Harmon Fred Anawalt Jr. from Kansas, grandfather of current company president, David Anawalt.

Back then, at a time when the area was still mainly agricultural, Anawalt became the local supplier of lumber, plywood and building materials, in anticipation of inevitable growth. Today, the 16,500-square-foot, L-shaped store configuration suits the multifaceted products and services the company offers. Besides Ana
Assistant store manager Bill Smith has been with the company for 27 years.
walt’s building materials mainstay, the business is now a full supplier of siding, paint, electrical, hardware, plumbing, housewares, automotive and nursery needs. Though the glass and corrugated steel gardening and hardware sections of the complex are visually arresting, the two adjuncts to the business do not override that of the original lumber component.

The design of the other two Anawalt stores parallels that of the West Los Angeles location. One has served the West Hollywood area since 1948, the other—serving Hollywood, since 1981—was the first to add a garden center. The West Los Angeles store added the garden center in 1993, but moved it to replace the original store during a remodeling in 1999, during which time the layout of the warehouse was also reversed.  Home remodelers and contractors could not be more pleased with the efficient drive-thru in place for them to pick up their orders.

Assistant general manager, Bill Smith who, along with general manager, Dave Iblings, has been with the company for twenty-seven years, said that customers drive into the bustling main parking lot, proceed through the lumbe
Part of the operation includes cantilever racking that offers more lumber storage in a smaller space.
r area entrance on the west side of the building to the back lumber storage area. An assortment of hardwoods, from ipe, birch, and oak to lyptus and poplar are available. In addition, the company offers a full supply of softwoods, including Douglas Fir, Cedar, Redwood and engineered wood products.

Lumber products can be quickly loaded on and unloaded off of the cantilevered racks that hold lumber in the open yard. After they make their selection, customers then enter the lumber shed to complete the transaction at customer service and exit back out to the parking lot they had originally entered. It’s about as smooth, seamless, and quick an in-out process as a customer is going to find in the business.

At any point in the process, customers have the option to enter the hardware store that is attached to the lumber shed on the east, from one of two entryways. One is the main front entrance, the other in the yard, is through the rental department.

 “It’s ideal,” said Iblings. “If you rent the tools, you buy the materials to work with.”
A view of the drive-thru lumber shed at the West Los Angeles location.
It’s that simple and straightforward. The service was first offered at the Hollywood store ten years ago and added to the West Los Angeles store at the remodeling juncture. The list is comprehensive. Besides indoor finishing equipment such as vacuums and polishers, do-it-yourselfers can rent everything to complete a job from saws, power hammers, sanders, and pneumatic nailers to scaffolding, ladders, grinders and generators, air compressors and more.

Inside the hardware store, signage sums up the Anawalt product offerings and focuses on explicit customer service. Hanging at evenly spaced intervals from the ceiling are three banners that read, one each, “selection, convenience and quality.”

Iblings maintained that merchandise is categorized to make it easy to find. Besides a complete hardware line, the store houses paint, home-related gifts and some nursery items. In the back of the store are the management offices, where Ibling’s busy day includes overseeing the work force, managing expenses, maintaining the right number of employees—which hovers around 70—assuring a safe environment and that all sales are successful. Executive vice president Richard Rios administrates from the upstairs corporate offices.

To complete the one-stop shopping advantage of the business, all three Anawalt locations have garden centers. The Pico Boulevard store garden center completes the “L” of the building design, juxtaposed northeast of the hardware store and lumber shed portion. The newsletter on the website,, is a monthly gardening
One of the benefits to the operation at Anawalt is the drive-thru lumber availability.
exposé and adds a personal touch to communication with homeowners and landscapers.
Services at Anawalt are an entity in themselves. Shopping, ordering, and question-answer communication is available on-line. A “find the expert” service links customers up with reputable, experienced contractors, handymen and trades people who can take a job over at the level needed. In serving West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Malibu, Brentwood, Beverly Hills, Century City, Culver City and Westwood, the lumber yard is equipped with DeWalt saws to millwork as customers’ needs dictate. The service department will obtain price beams as needed.  Lumberyard attendants cut lumber to size and cut grooves in lumber for fence rails or other special demands.

Anawalt prides itself on knowledgeable staff, able to help people solve their building or retrofitting problems, on accessibility, convenience and on its prompt delivery service. The major intersection of Pico and Sepulveda at which the 200,000-square-foot business plot is located is only one block from the 405 freeway, for their four Hino Toyota flatbed trucks to access for deliveries, especially attractive to on-line shoppers. 

 “Each of the past five years, has been better than the preceding one and we expect it to continue,” Iblings said. “There may be some leveling off but we will continue strong because of property value, low interest rates, and everyone realizing the value of their homes and making improvements. Who hasn’t remodeled their kitchen lately,” he mused.
 Iblings takes a positive stance that can only contribute to the growth of the company, “to stay on tra
Gilberto Bonilla serves as yard supervisor at the firm.
ck with wherever the market takes us, in keeping up with the growing business. Rather than react to it, get in front of it and help to move it forward.” 

The strengths of the company, the integrity, reputation and good service, has made it a great place to work, said Iblings.

A view of the main West Los Angeles Anawalt garden center and hardware store.


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