Danny Clarke is vice president and David Taylor is operations manager for Jimmy Whittington Lumber Co. in Memphis, Tenn.
Whittington Lumber Built on Reputation
By Brady Buffaloe
Memphis, Tenn.—Reputations take years to build, but only a few minutes to tear down. At Jimmy Whittington Lumber Co., located here, the reputation among homebuilders and contractors is impeccable.
“We always strive to meet customer needs and do what we say we will do,” said Jim Whittington Jr., secretary and treasurer, of the company. “We market our products mainly because of our reputation.”
Jimmy Whittington Lumber Co. has been servicing Memphis area homebuilders and contractors since 1948. The company operates three locations, one in the mid-town area of the city, one in Cordova, a suburb just east of the city, and one in North Mississippi near Olive Branch. The Cordova branch was opened in 1987 and the Olive Branch location in 1992.
Lumber products handled by the firm include Southern Yellow Pine and West Coast Fir in Pressure T
Whittington Lumber keeps between 5 million and 6.5 million board feet of lumber in inventory at all three locations.
reated No. 2 and No. 3 in 2x4, 2x6, 2x8, 2x10, 2x12; fire treated No. 2 in 2x4, 2x6, 2x8, 2x10, 2x12; Plywood AC & CDX; waferboard; and Simpson Strong Tie Products.
“We buy our lumber from mills in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Canada, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama,” Whittington said. “Most arrive by truck and we can receive by rail.”
The firm also markets Cedar and other species requested by customers.
Whittington Lumber keeps between 5 million and 6.5 million board feet of lumber in inventory at all three locations. Each location sits on five acres. How often the firm turns its inventory depends, of course, on market conditions.
Fortunately for the firm, the market conditions in the Memphis area have been very good the past several years mainly because of the low interest rates on mortgages, but also steady employment. Unlike the California market, for example, the region usually does not see big fluctuations in the home starts because it is not affected by mass layoffs and bad stock market results.
“We have end
A fleet of 25 trucks delivers products within about a 50-mile radius of Memphis.
ured several recessions in ’67-’68, ’74-’75 and 81,” Whittington said. “We kept going and have remained steady and on course.”
Other products carried by Whittington include engineered wood products like laminated beams, micro-lam beams, truss joist and trim joist.
“We also have a millwork shop on site, where we operate a moulder,” Whittington said. “We offer a great selection of mouldings that we cut to customer specifications.”
Of course, the company also carries nearly anything else a homebuilder might need including: Temple blackboard insulation, concrete blocks, Dow Blueboard and Duramate, fencing in Cedar and treated, porch columns, stakes, windows and many other products.
In addition, the company offers custom cutting while the customer waits on many products. Of course, any special products can be ordered.
“There are some customers in Nashville who order 2x8 and 2x10s from us in extremely long lengths,” he said. “We are able to find some products that many yards don’t have or don’t even bother to source.”
A fleet of 25 trucks deliver products within about a 50-mile radius of Memphis.
Jimmy Whittington Lumber Co. has been servicing Memphis area homebuilders and contractors since 1948.
“We concentrate our marketing within that radius, however, we have a few dealers that stretch out to 125 miles,” he said.
Outside sales are handled by Whittington, Peter Treadwell and Dan Mayhew. Inside sales are professionally handled by Debby Williams, Paul Arbogast and Frank Hanlon.
“Being customer oriented we work hard on pleasing them,” Mayhew said. “We believe in making our word our bond. We may not get every order, but we must be doing something right, as long as we have been in business. One of our most valued customers has been with us for nearly 35 years.”
Jimmy Whittington Lumber started marketing lumber in the Memphis area in the early 1930s.
“We purchased our lumber from mills in North Mississippi,” Whittington said. “Our first retail locatio
Lumber is purchased from mills in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Canada, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama.
n didn’t open until 1948 and we moved to our current location on Jackson Ave., in 1966. There have been four generations of Whittington’s involved in the business.”
The company has about 65 employees between all three locations. Key employees include: Danny Clarke, vice president; and David Taylor, operations manager.
Jimmy Whittington Lumber is a member of the Southern Building Material Dealers Assoc., Lumberman’s Merchandising Corp. and the Memphis Home Builders Assoc.
“With our reputation and customer service, we hope to be servicing Memphis area homebuilders and contractors for many years to come,” Whittington said.