September 12, 2002

Dannenhauers Plan Celebration Of 30 Years In Business At Hopkins Lumber

Aaron, Becca, Darlene and Jack Dannenhauer will be celebrating 30 years of business at Hopkins Lumber with a special open house later this month.

For nearly 80 years Hopkins Lumber has offered building materials for sale from the current location. While the name and address have remained constant over this lengthy period there have been plenty of other changes.

A change of ownership January 1, 1972 was the largest difference. Jack and Darlene Dannenhauer bought the lumber-yard 30 years ago and are marking the anniversary with a special open house at Hopkins Lumber September 28.

Factory representatives will be on hand to display a variety of items offered for sale at the lumberyard. The company will offer discounts on a number of items including Larson storm doors, Stanley entry doors, Bostich air tools and Certain-Teed roofing, siding and railing. In addition, Hopkins Lumber will be giving away door prizes all day.

The Dannenhauers purchased the business in 1972 from W. H. Hopkins, Henry Reed and "Dutch" Fender. The men had owned the lumberyard for nearly 50 years after purchasing it from Harry Trovillo in 1923.

Prior to the transaction, Jack Dannenhauer had worked as a private contractor with one of his final jobs being the current Community Bank of Memphis Building.

Over their 30 years in business Jack and Darlene have had plenty of good help, with two of the current mainstays actually growing up at the lumberyard.

"Aaron has been around on a regular basis since he was two and I came back to work pretty quick after Becca was born so both of them have pretty well grown up right here at the lumber yard," Darlene said.

All five of Jack and Darlene's children have worked at the lumberyard at one time or another along with many of the couple's grandchildren.

Aaron Dannenhauer has been working at the family business as long as he can remember but said he didn't start getting paid a wage until he was 13. Much of the same can be said for Becca who like Aaron came to work full-time after finishing high school but has been working at the lumberyard for more than a decade.

Joe Wheeler has been another steady hand at Hopkins, working for the family since 1974.

Currently the company employs six full-time workers as well as three part-time employees.

At the time of the purchase in 1972 Mr. Hopkins commented in an article in the Memphis Democrat regarding changes in the business.

"Most noticeable was the change from just lumber to the many items that now occupy the attention of the building trade," Hopkins said. He also noticed the transition from wagons and horse teams that were tied in front of the store at the hitch-post to automobiles.

The facility itself has seen some improvements under the current ownership.

"When we took over the alley ways into the lumberyard were dirt roads and the there were only three 60-watt light bulbs in the entire yard, and one of those didn't even work," said Jack Dannenhauer. "So you can imagine it was a little dark around here at 7:00 in the morning when we went to load a bunch of lumber for a customer."

Darlene Dannenhauer said one of the significant transitions in the industry has been the availability of materials. For many years the employees had to travel to the railroad depot where they would have to unload all of the lumber and transport it back to the yard.

Merchandise was a little more difficult to come by in the early years too as Jack said salespeople were not as plentiful in the industry back then.

"We may have had five or six different salesmen call us back then," Jack said. "Nowadays we probably have that many in on a given day."

Aaron also commented on the changes in the delivery part of the trade, a part of the business he played a big role in growing up.

"When I started all we had was an old 1952 Ford truck," Aaron said. "Now we run three big trucks and two full-size trailers to make deliveries all over the area."

The loading and delivery work had another drawback early on as materials were all moved by hand prior to the company purchasing its first forklift later down the road.

The Dannenhauers did make some adjustments to the facility. They purchased the former MFA Feed and Produce building across the street from the main lumberyard. This building now houses the company's window and glass repairs as well as a general workshop and also provided added storage.

The building still houses parts of another significant change in the industry.

"Today we deal in pre-hung doors and windows where in years past we would have to build the windows and doors," Aaron said. "We still have old window jams and window weights. But that's the way with a lot of building materials. It used to be houses had stick built floors and roofs but now most of these materials are pre-engineered wood trusses and engineered floor joists."

While time has brought changes in the businesses and commerce in the region the Dannenhauer family will continue to be a constant at Hopkins Lumber as Aaron and Becca hope to carry on the family tradition at least another 30 years.

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