Tuesday, October 31, 2006
DALLAS -- Some things in life never change. Van Well Building supply in Dallas is not one of them.
Carl and Patty Van Well bought Povey Builders Supply and Povey Oil Co. in November of 1976 after former owner Neale Povey died suddenly earlier that year.
Van Well's started with one pickup truck, one forklift and one delivery truck and a crew of three or four. As the business prepares to celebrate its 30th anniversary, it has a staff of 30 part- and full-time employees. Van Well's now has four pickups, five delivery trucks and five forklifts.
"It's hard to imagine that we have grown so much," said Carl Van Well, a 1962 Dallas High graduate. "We have a lot more employees and we go a lot farther distances to our clients in Western Oregon.
"The products have changed a lot. You don't see some of the old products we used to sell, and there are a lot of new ones that have taken their place. We've expanded more into lawn and garden and plumbing and electrical."
Originally, Van Well's was located at the corner of Ash Street and Holman Avenue, across the street from the high school. Delivery trucks were unloaded in the middle of Ash, surrounded by students and staff arriving for school.
There were two competing lumber yards in Dallas at the time. Neither is still around, and Van Well's moved to its current location at 1650 Uglow St. when Lumberman's left the area in 1985.
"At one time, Dallas supported four lumber yards," Van Well said. "Now we're down to one. But there's just as much competition now as then, believe it or not."
There were some lean times during the 1980s, but the business has endured. The facility has been upgraded and expanded several times in an effort to utilize every available inch of space.
"We have everything you need to build a house," Van Well said. "We have lumber and plywood. We do some business with commercial landscapers. We have concrete blocks, roofing, paint, electrical (supplies), nails and all kinds of fasteners.
"We're getting pretty crowded. We're having to use every little niche. We have very limited space for parking, which is not good."
The biggest part of the business is lumber, plywood and decking materials. About 60 or 65 percent of the business is with contractors, and homeowners account for the rest.
"I enjoy the challenges of buying the products and meeting with the customers and having happy, satisfied customers," Van Well said. " I enjoy spending time with our employees, too. They're enjoyable to work with.
"We get a lot of good feedback from customers on the job our employees do helping people out. We appreciate that. And when someone does criticize us, when we do get something wrong, we appreciate that, too -- so we can do better the next time."