Farmers Lumber Company story and photos courtesy of Viborg Enterprise
The Viborg Danish Viking Days Committee has selected Farmers Lumber Company as this years recipient of the Annual Friends of Viborg Award. Viborg Danish Viking Days Co-Chair – Julie Hartmann said that the committee based their decision in part because Farmer’s Lumber Company is the oldest remaining business in Viborg. In conjunction with this award, the committee selected the theme “Building for the Future”. This seems particularly appropriate as we honor our past as we celebrate our future.
The Farmers Lumber Company is not Viborg’s largest employer but they may have the most loyal, steadfast staff. Their current manager, Donald Pederson has been employed at Farmer’s Lumber for the past 35 years. He was named manager of Farmers Lumber Co. in 1998 when Ernest Alton retired after 29 years in the position.
Bookkeeper Judy Larsen has had a presence at Farmers Lumber Co since June of 1988. Customers have benefited from the friendly smile and contagious laugh of Judy for the past 23 years.
Matt Knodel assistant manager has been employed with Farmers Lumber Co. since 1998. The new kid on the block is Wade Peterson who joined the crew in August of 2010.
The community is fortunate to have this team of dedicated employees which has provided knowledgeable and courteous service throughout the years. They carry a large inventory of lumber, windows, doors, garage doors, tools, hardware, paint, fencing and supplies. They also provide custom window, glass, and screen repair and provide garage door installation and service. A variety of pre-built lawn sheds are available for purchase.
The current board members of Farmers Lumber Company are: Curt Svarstad (President); Mark Odland (Vice President); Lee Ebbesen (Secretary); Gary Peterson; Dix Johnke; Bruce Heirigs; and Donald Peterson.
History of the Farmers Lumber Company 1905-1991
Source: Viborg History Book
The first meeting for the purpose of organizing the Farmers Cooperative Association was held July 10, 1905. R.B. Gordon was elected chairman, and N.P. Fredricksen, Sec. A capital of $15,000 was decided upon. Shares to be $25.00 each with a limit of 5 shares per person.
A meeting for permanent organization was held on August 18, 1905 to adopt the by-laws and elect seven directors. Carl F. Anderson was acting President and N.P. Fredricksen, Secretary. The first directors elected were: A.. Apland, Pres.; Chis Swensen, Vice Pres.; N.P. Fredricksen, Sec.: S.C. Nelson, Treas.; Trustees: John Buckstead, C.F. Anderson, John M Larsen.
On September 3, 1913 they purchased the Queal Lumber Co. A.R. Priest was their last manager. This was located at the present location. After the move to their new location they advertised coal sheds for sale and then the building site itself, at the old site was sold.
A special stockholders meeting was held October 12, 1925 for the purpose of reorganizing. Several by-laws were changed and the name was changed from the Farmers Cooperative Association to the Farmers Lumber Company.
On December 23, 1927 they purchased the Carpenter Lumber Company for $4,951.47. Monthly payments were to made starting April 1, 1928 and the balance paid July 1, 1928. The Carpenter Lumber Co. was located south of their lumberyard where the band shell stands now. The Carpenter Lumber Co. had purchased the Goodrich-Call Lumber (a combination of the Goodrich and Union) in December 1915.
They stayed in their present location and the Carpenter was discontinued. Some of the buildings were sold and C.J. Glood purchased part of the building site.
The first coal sheds were open pens along the railroad. Many kinds of coal came in on the train, soft and hard coal; small briquettes to large chunks. Later some covered coal sheds were built. The last one was built in 1934.
In April 1948 the City of Viborg vacated Jones Ave to the north of the lumber yard and deeded it to the Farmers Lumber Co. in exchange for deed to part of lot 4 and all of lots 5 &6 in block 13. His area was south of the yard. The city wanted it for park purposes.
In 1949 a new building was added to the yard. Wayne Nelson established a planning mill in it.
In 1950 the Farmers Lumber Co. was reorganized and they obtained a new charter.
In 1951 a large warehouse was built beside the railroad tracks. After the last train of lumber and coal was delivered in 1980 many of the sheds along the tracks have been sold and only two remain.
In September 1953 they bought their first truck so they could do their own deliveries. It was a 1 1/2 ton truck from Johnson Motor Co. for the purchase price of $1,875.00. Up until that time various draymen in Viborg were hired to make deliveries. Horses were used many yeas.
In 1958 there were amendments to the articles of incorporation and changes in the by-laws. After these changes patronage dividends were paid annually.
In 1960 the lumberyard office was enlarged to include a display room.
On May 16, 1966 a large fire destroyed a lot of the lumberyard property including the office. Fortunately very little of the records were destroyed. After a job of cleaning up and a fire sale, inventory was replaced and a new building built. Not only does it contain the office but also a display room, paint storage, glass repair room, and lumber storage. It was completed by December 1966. While the new building was being built a temporary office was located in Louie Larsen’s building across the street.
In 1969 the Farmers Lumber Co. built a house for their manager to live in. Since it was built Ernie Alton, Mgr. has lived in it.
On June 21, 1974 a special meeting of the stockholders was held to vote on resolutions to be part of the changes in the articles of incorporation and by-laws. This would allow allocations of capital reserve in the future.
In 1977 sixteen acres of land was purchased for the Viborg Development Association and developed it for purpose of residential houses.
The following managers have served the organizations: Arlo Monk, 1905; Art Morrison, 1907; T.C. Nielsen 1910; J.N. Stout, 1944; Clifford (Bud) Giles, 1951; Orville (Bud) Jones, 1955; Phillip Olsen, acting Manager Pro-tem, 1966; Lyle Hoeck, 1967; Mike Saarie, 1968; Ernie Alton, 1969 and is our present manager. (retired 1998)
Since this history was written, the progression of Farmers Lumber has not stood still. In 2000, a new storage unit was constructed across the street, to the west, of their main building and office. In 2002, they built open front storage for yard storage. Last winter a new heated shop was added to accommodate additional inventory. New equipment includes a pickup and flatbed in 2008 and a skid loader was purchased this year.
The past and present employees and board members of Farmers Lumber Company will be honored on Friday evening, July 15th at 8 :00 p.m. at Glood Park with the presentation of the “Friends of Viborg” award.