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Creative wood works

Webster City business reaches customers on a global scale

June 10, 2016
Adri Sietstra ( ,

the Lumber Shack is known world-wide for their unique wood creations. Rounded table tops, and other specially-made lumber products from the Lumber Shack have been distributed all around the world.

The majority of the lumber used by the business is collected locally. According to James Rossing, co-owner of The Lumber Shack/PG&D, most of the wood comes out of the Boone River Valley.

"A lot of it's out of the Boone River Valley. I'd say a majority, or at least, the tributary to it," said Rossing. "Something that is very average for us here is exotic somewhere else."

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The Lumber Shack carries a wide selection of one-of-a-kind, hand picked wood varieties. The business is best known for their live edge table top slabs. Live edge is a style where the natural edge of the wood is incorporated into the design of the piece.

Rich Iowa Walnut, Ambrosia Curly Spalted Maple Slabs, and Black Walnut are only a few of the many types of timber customers can choose from.

It appeals to a global audience because the timber here is different than what would be found in other parts of Iowa, said James Rossing.

According to Jen Rossing, co-owner, they have even sold Caribou Coffee stumps to Indonesia. Singapore, Japan, France, Oman, and Saudi Arabia are some of places where The Lumber Shack has shipped their creations.

The large selection of timber is stored in several buildings on the property. In order to keep the integrity of the boards during storage, a number of steps are taken. Slabs are stored by size and with like items. This helps prevent any bowing or changes in the composition of each individual piece. Employees strives to ensure that every piece that leaves the shop maintains its integrity. Every board has a specific number which is used for locating and restocking. This helps maintain efficiency at the business as well, James Rossing said.

"If you just sat and leaned them against the wall they'd be a different shape by the time you sold them," said James Rossing. "Efficiency is the driver of this business."

"Everything is lined up like library books only it's not titled on the outside, so it's better to do the shopping and browsing online," said Jen Rossing. "There are all sorts of filters on the website to sort by size and shape."

The Webster City business began under PG&D in 2001 as a landscaping and tree service. The business was only able to service an estimated 30-60 mile radius so PG&D made the decision to branch out in 2007.

James and his wife, Jen, co-own and operate The Lumber Shack/PG&D with the help of five employees.

Shop foreman and head sawer Jim Blythe chisels, sands, and grinds away lumber of unusual size to make a variety of slabs, gunstocks, and other unique wood pieces.

Brandon Dodson, shop laborer, assists Blythe with these tasks.

Ryan Utley is the head salesman at The Lumber Shack/PG&D.

Adam Sexe, product creation clerk, does a variety of jobs throughout the day. Sexe cuts and planes boards, measures and takes down dimensions for every board that comes through the line, and uploads photos and every dimension possible to the company website. Every warp, twist, and bow is written down. Each listing gets four photos as well so that customers have the best idea possible of what the board is like in real life.

"Everything is recorded. He puts out about 40 items everyday," said James Rossing. "The world doesn't know you have it until Adam touches it."

Justin Keppler, shipper, helps ensure that all products that leave the grounds will arrive safely to their destinations around the world. Before each piece of wood is shipped, it is packed carefully with enough foam and packing material to ensure the integrity of the wood is not lost.

"It's an amazing crew," said James Rossing. "We started with 16 people when we were a landscaping and tree service. Then we went to Jen and I. "

"This thing came out of the ashes," he said. "There was no one here in 2008 or 2009. This thing was the only thing kinda going, it's the only thing we saved. We made the transition and we hired good help. This business kind of took over all of them and was the most rewarding."

The Lumber Shack does 99 percent of their business online according to James Rossing. Customers are able to browse and peruse a wide selection of pre-cut lumber.

"When we had a service business, a 30 or 60-mile radius was all you could do without having the guys overnight,' said James Rossing. "Here we can sell to the whole world. We shipped to Oman and Saudi Arabia last week. Canada every week. Our store can service the whole world right here."

Jen Rossing also noted that the best way to view and purchase product is to visit The Lumber Shack website. Appointments can also be made most Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"Everybody wants to be different. So we create that for them and that's where they buy it," said James Rossing, "If they're looking for that 1 by 6 at Menards, that's not us. We're into different. If it catches their eye, then they tend to buy it."

"Customers are number one here," said James Rossing. "We don't have a business without customers."



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