By Ray Linker
Observer Business Editor
The Tum-a-Lum Lumber Company will reopen April 9 under new ownership and with a new name and added products.
The corporation that owns Millers Cabinet and Hardware and NAPA Auto Parts west of the Tum-a-Lum building is taking over the lumber store that closed in late February.
It will be called Millers Home Center and Lumber Co.
Were buying their inventory and have a lease-purchase agreement on the building from Steve and Bill Whittemore, said Steve Colkitt. He and Wayne Ryder are the two owners of the corporation that operates Millers at 217 Greenwood St.
Their plan is to move all the Ace Hardware inventory, paint, wallpaper and other items from the Millers location to the former Tum-a-Lum site at 307 Greenwood.
Then the NAPA business, which is a part of the corporation and now occupies a portion of the Miller site, will be expanded and possibly will add another employee or two if sales increase, Colkitt said.
The cabinet shop and glass shop will remain in the Millers location and a cabinet finishing booth, now located in Union, will be moved into La Grande.
There were a few problems with settling on the name for the new location.
We had wanted to call it Millers Lumber, but we couldnt do that because some company in the Willamette Valley already has that name, Colkitt said.
He at first thought he would call it Ace Lumber and Cabinet before making the final selection acceptable to the state Corporation Commission.
Combining the operations, even while having to maintain two separate buildings a block apart on opposite sides of the railroad tracks, will improve the retail building materials and services the company can offer the public, Colkitt said.
They had a good amount of inventory. They carried several items we dont carry now and have a good amount of certain types of inventory on hand.
Now, well be a complete lumber yard and still make and install doors and cabinets, as well as sell paint, wallpaper and hardware.
Millers makes a lot of custom doors for existing homes, including those of older homes with taller entranceways. It makes and installs custom cabinets and windows, does complete commercial storefronts and puts in power-assisted door openers for the handicapped, Colkitt said.
The expansion will require additional employees, and Colkitt will add a total of four people, including three former Tum-a-Lum workers. Millers and NAPA now employ a total of 22, Colkitt said.
Tum-a-Lum, which had nine employees, closed its La Grande operation without any prior notification to employees or the public on Feb. 19. Owner Jim Crawford of Troutdale cited the poor lumber market for what he called an economic cutback. The company, which also closed a Hermiston store, still owns outlets at eight Oregon locations as well as stores in California and Nevada.
Five of the Tum-a-Lum employees found work in early March at All-Around Rental and Building Supply on McAlister Road when it reopened after a December shutdown.
Colkitt said the new location would observe the same hours as the present store: 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7:30 to 6 on Saturday and 9 to 4 on Sunday.