Forty years gives cause for celebration
CUTLINE: Group inside photo: (l to r) Randy Harrison, Roger Post, Jerry Duncklee, Joyce Duncklee, and Dotty Rosenbum have all worked together over the years to make Fayette Lumber Co., Inc. a success.
Forty years gives cause for celebration
The year was 1973. Richard Nixon was president, a ceasefire was signed in Vietnam, and the Oakland A’s were in the midst of winning three straight World Series championships. Closer to home, Jerry Duncklee of Fayette was presented with a business opportunity that was too good to pass up, and he decided to take advantage of it.
That was the beginning of Fayette Lumber Company, Inc., which Duncklee and Ron Ash purchased from the Fullerton Lumber Company in March of that year. Jerry had moved to Fayette from Van Horne in 1972 to become the new manager of Joyce Lumber, which was then sold a year or so later to Fullerton Lumber Co. He was approached about purchasing the business from Fullerton Lumber for a good price, but couldn’t come up with all of the money on his own.
“They offered to sell it to me for $10,000, plus $35,000 worth of inventory. I couldn’t buy it on my own, but Ron Ash agreed to be my partner and we purchased it together,” explained Duncklee.
Three years later, after Ron died, Jerry became the sole owner of Fayette Lumber.
Owning a lumberyard was not exactly what Jerry had set out to do in life. His early interests revolved more around being a mechanic, which he picked up from his father, Clark Alonzo Duncklee.
“Before working at a lumberyard, I used to repair lawn equipment, and I really liked doing that. I also worked as an appliance repairman and carpet installer before getting into the lumber business,” Jerry recalled.
Jerry’s grandfather, Walter Baxter Duncklee, was a carpenter, so Jerry also had the opportunity to learn about carpentry and lumber as he was growing up. Before coming to Fayette, Duncklee was the assistant manager at the Joyce Lumberyard in Van Horne.
“There have been a lot of ups and downs with the business along the way,” said Jerry’s wife, Joyce, who worked as a secretary for Fayette Lumber for a number of years.
During the ‘80s, when farmers were having some tough times economically, the Duncklees thought they might have to close their business. Farmers were among their primary customers, and there were several bankruptcies during that time which made things difficult for the lumberyard. The Duncklees were able to make it through those times, with the help of loyal customers, great employees, and their family.
Jerry and Joyce were married in 1981, roughly a year after she started working for the business. Her two sons, Steve and Roger Post, also worked at the lumberyard. Steve was employed there as a carpenter for more than 16 years and still helps out occasionally. Roger has been employed there for 30 years. He is now the manager and also does construction work. Carpenter Randy Harrison (11 years) and current office manager Dolly Rosenbum (10 years) have also been longtime employees of the business, as was Daryl Kuhens (10 years), who is now retired. Together, they have been able to keep the business running and make it successful.
“It’s provided us with a good life. It hasn’t made us wealthy, but we’ve made a decent living and we are grateful for what it has provided for us,” said Jerry appreciatively.
Joyce added, “We are so appreciative of our loyal customers and the community. We are very thankful for the support they have shown us over the years.”
This year marks the 40th anniversary of Fayette Lumber Co., Inc., and Jerry and Joyce are pausing to take time to celebrate and say thank you to all their loyal customers. They are hosting a Customer Appreciation Dinner from 11:30 a.m. to
3 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 1, and invite their customers and the community to come to the lumberyard and celebrate with them.
Jerry and Joyce are enjoying life these days, though it is not always at the lumberyard. Six months out of the year they reside in Lake Wales, Fla. Joyce keeps busy by volunteering at Bok Tower Gardens, a National Historical Site, where she helps with recordkeeping. Jerry has returned to one of his first loves, repairing lawn equipment for those in need of that service.
“I have to keep busy doing something, and I’ve always liked doing mechanic work. I enjoy the work and interacting with people,” smiled the lumberyard owner.
Duncklee and Fayette Lumber Co., Inc. have also enjoyed building the relationships they have here in northeast Iowa as well. Forty years is definitely worth celebrating, and Jerry and Joyce Duncklee plan to do just that.