About Us


Family Owned & Operated Since 1928

In 1928, Lee and Ann Withers bought a part interest in a sawmill in Woodburn that was then called Livesay–Withers Lumber. They relocated from McMinnville to Woodburn and quickly became part of the new community where they would spend the rest of their lives. Mr. Livesay ran the sawmill while Lee Withers handled the bookkeeping and the retail & contractor sales office. Despite only having an 8th grade education, Lee had a gift for numbers and knew his times-table up to twenty! Lee & Mr. Livesay made a great team! Yet, two important events would change the thriving partnership.

Ann W.

First, in 1929 the stock market crash plunged the country into depression. Then in 1931, J.W. Copeland came to Woodburn and told Mr. Livesay and Lee that if they didn’t sell their lumberyard to him that he would open a yard across the street and run them out of business. The young partners welcomed the challenge, but their optimism ran headlong into reality. Copeland took enough business in the small town that Livesay-Withers could not survive and they went ahead and closed the retail yard while Mr. Livesay continued to operate the sawmill.

Lee and Ann then went to Mt. Angel, eight miles away, and started again. This was now in the depths of the depression. Times were very tough, but they were determined to succeed as Mt. Angel Lumber. Sales records still exist of this time. In fact, in March 1931 sales were $43.45 for the entire month.

The Withers decided to knock on every door in town and introduce themselves and ask for the community’s support as they struggled to keep the doors open. As the only Protestants in an all-Catholic town, they felt a bit out of place. However, the townspeople spoke, “If those kids can work that hard to get a business going, the least we can do is help them when we can.” And, with the loyalty and support of many people things got a little better and they managed to get by; the town and people of Mt. Angel hold a special place in the hearts of Ann & Lee and the entire Withers family.

Lee W.

In 1934 it was Copeland’s turn to fall on hard times and their Woodburn store was put up for sale. Lee and Ann borrowed all they could from family and friends and, in March of 1935, bought the yard; this was the week that Bob was born. In the words of Ann, “We now have two children and two Lumber Yards and the depression is still with us.” Now with two lumber yards, Ann came to work with Lee at the Mt. Angel yard and took care of payables and receivables and as the community liaison— she had the personality to build relationships!

The Woodburn location was manned by their first employee, Fred Hurris. All during the depression and most of World War II, this is how the yards operated. All of our contractor customers had their own keys so if Lee or Fred were gone, they’d simply come in, take what they needed, and leave a note. It was a different time!

As the 50s began, both the Woodburn and Mt. Angel yards started to grow and more people were hired. Both locations hired local folks and were vital parts of the community, especially if a church needed to be built or a barn raised.

In 1962, Lee and Anne’s eldest son Bob returned from Morocco after serving 4 years in the United States Air Force. Bob had graduated from Willamette University and was excited to take over as the second-generation leader of Withers Lumber in the town he grew up in. Working side by side with his mother and father, and with new ideas and determination, the second-generation began.

Bob W.

At the Woodburn store, now the much larger of the two locations, Lee, Ann, and Bob worked alongside trusted, loyal and colorful co-workers like Bill “Shorty” Smith, Carl “Slim” Mikken and “Big” Bob Wellman.

The years were passing by and Lee and Ann were anxious to slow down. So, after 36 years, they retired and Bob took over the two yards in 1964.

Bob quickly grew the business again, by purchasing Drayton Lumber, by the railroad tracks, in Brooks, Oregon in 1965. He knows the location is bad and that it should be on the highway, so he purchased three acres at the Brooks Intersection and started building the Brooks Lumber Yard. The Mainline Cannery decided to build just about the same time and the ‘onion boys’ there kept adding to their warehouses, so the Lumber Yard took off with a ‘Bang’. The yard opened in July of 1969 and Ike Eaten took the reins as manager; the yard became an instant success specializing in pole barns and farm related materials as well as serving the fast-growing new construction market in Salem.

It soon became the highest volume yard, but it was still the employees who made it a fun to work and fun to shop place…even when a mishap occurred. Like the time a unit of plywood was accidentally dropped on a customer’s prized El Camino, crushing it flat.

As the 60’s gave way to the 70’s, Withers continued to grow with the opening of Woodburn Floors on January 15th, 1975. Bob felt the area needed a specialty facility dealing in interior surfaces, and more locals were hired to staff the new venture.

With the addition of Dallas Building Supply in Dallas, Oregon in 1976. The company now had grown to 5 locations and over 100 employees, but there was trouble on the horizon.

The early 1980’s brought double-digit inflation, interest rates and unemployment which laid waste to the housing industry as well as many other businesses and families.

The company shrank rapidly as no one was spared from the “misery index”. By 1983 they’d lost 75% of their workforce. Bob changed after the layoffs of the early 80’s. It broke his heart and he never wanted to be a large company again, but Bob had unbelievable support from those that remained and, as a team, they weathered the storm and began to recover, both business and optimism.

As 1984 arrived and housing was recovering in earnest, Bob, based on advice from top sales-person, John Gooley, decided to open a division specializing in Andersen Windows. Withers Building Specialties, a window and door showroom, opened in South Salem with additional stores opening in Lake Oswego in 1986 and Bend in 1991.

Bob’s positive attitude, sense of humor, and uncanny ability to hire and train good people helped the company to survive the tough times and thrive in the good times. It was always the employees who made the whole thing go. It was a true family business with all the messiness and fun that exists in every family.

In 1987, at the urging of Bob, eldest son Trent returned from Los Angeles to Woodburn to work in the family business. Trent had graduated from Occidental College as a theatre major in 1984 and was trying to make a living as an actor. He didn’t. So, Trent went to work at the Lake Oswego location of Withers Building Specialties and put his acting skills to use as a salesperson specializing in Andersen Windows and Doors.

Trent W.

Trent seemed to find a place to fit in and was instrumental in helping Bob open the new showroom in Bend. Soon, Trent took over as manager of the window division and more growth followed.

By the late 90’s Bob, following again in his parent’s footsteps, felt the lure of retirement. He felt Trent was ready to lead the company into its third generation and so in 1998. After 36 years, the reigns were handed to Trent to try to build on what his grandparents and father had so carefully nurtured: a small local business dedicated to their employees and their families, their customers, and community.

As the 21st Century dawned, the housing industry picked up and this was reflected in the company’s sales. Trent was buoyed by good economic signs and expansion occurred again with the opening of a new location in Silverton in 2004. Again, with the support of the community and with the hiring of local people, the new venture was an immediate success.

With sales skyrocketing, Trent experienced, quickly, the euphoria of success, and, unfortunately, the self-satisfaction and egotism that can come with it. He would soon learn the truth. It turned out, with the bursting of the housing bubble in 2008, that Trent was no smarter than anyone else, and the company entered its darkest period since the Great Depression. As in the 30’s and the 80’s it became the only goal just to keep the doors open.

As the company shrank again and struggled to continue to exist, many other lumber yards closed their doors. One of these, in Molalla, left a real gap in the community and so, rolling the dice during our country’s worst ever housing depression, Trent and his trusted managers Roger Fouts, Lori Fossholm, Otis Sparks, and Ken Brock, decided on a daring move. Open a new lumber yard at the worst possible time. In 2010 the new Molalla location opened and was immediately embraced and supported by all of Molalla, and, in keeping with the nepotism that often comes with a family business, Ken Brock’s son, Ryan Brock, was hired to manage the Molalla yard. When 42-year General Manager, Roger Fouts, retired in 2016, Ryan became the company’s new General Manager. The family kept growing.

One thing has never changed after all these years: Withers Lumber strives to open facilities in small communities staffed with local people. We believe that if you simply find the best, most honest and hardworking people who enjoy helping others then you will be appreciated and supported by your community.

At Withers Lumber, our job is to help others do what they want to do. Good teams are how we do it. And we think you’ll enjoy our people and products no matter which store you frequent— Brooks/Salem, Molalla or Silverton. We’re so grateful for your patronage and we know we have to continue to earn it every day. Thank you all for your support!

withers history