By Mary-Justine Lanyon
Longevity is the name of the game at Rim Forest Lumber. Just ask Pat McCumber, the general manager.
He started work there in 1976 – 44 years ago – out in the yard. Tom Baker was the owner. Butch Baumann, the current owner, was one of the crew.
Before long, McCumber moved into the office and worked the counter. When Jim Gregson, who was the general manager, retired in 1997, McCumber assumed that position.
He has made the decision that now it’s time for him to retire. July 18 will be his last day.
Why that date? “I’m a big Denver Broncos fan,” McCumber said, pointing to what he calls his “wall of shame,” where he has a variety of Broncos posters and photos. “John Elway’s number was 7. Peyton Manning’s was 18. So, what better day to retire than 7.18?”
Looking back on his career at Rim Forest Lumber, McCumber said one of the biggest changes he has seen is more do-it-yourself business. “That’s been true especially the past couple of years,” he said. “And especially this year with the virus. More homeowners started coming in to do projects after they got their stimulus checks.”
And when they do come in, they have questions. “We’re here to help them, to guide them,” McCumber said. “We walk them through whatever it is they want to do.”
McCumber – who said he will definitely stay on the mountain – looks forward to spending more time with his 18-month-old grandson. And his wife of 45 years, Louanne, has projects for him to do.
“She’s excited about my retirement,” McCumber said.
The couple plans to travel when that is a possibility again. “We want to go to Europe and Australia. Last January we went to Hawaii with our son.”
As for the best thing about working at Rim Forest Lumber, McCumber was quick with an answer: “It’s the people – the customers. The contractors, the suppliers, the homeowners. That’s been the best part of working here.”
McCumber is not the only one departing from Rim Forest Lumber this month. July 25 will be the last day for Scott D’Angelo, the store manager, who is also retiring.
In the 15 years he has worked at the store, D’Angelo has seen a broadening of their inventory. “We get more people coming in because of what we carry,” he said. The electrical department, he noted, is more complete now.
“We have quite a clientele. We know just about everyone who comes in the door. We listen to them to find out their greatest needs day to day. Then we try to find a source and bring it in.”
Lately, however, D’Angelo has noticed an increase in customers they don’t recognize. “We’ve gotten more phone calls, asking where we are located.
We ran a series of ads inviting people who are bored around the house to come on in and take care of some small projects that have been nagging at them. It’s a good time for it.”
Their products, D’Angelo feels, are superior products. “We carry products that are branded with names customers haven’t heard before but they are superior and a value. We’ve been Honda dealers for 30 years and Stihl for 12. They are all quality products that aren’t available just anywhere. They serve and serve – that’s what’s important to people.”
While contractors are the largest segment of their customers, it has been important to D’Angelo that homeowners – and especially women – not be intimidated when they go into Rim Forest Lumber. “Women are often the decisionmakers in the home. We want to make them feel confident and comfortable. We love serving all our customers.”
He tells the story of seeing a woman come in with her young son, who had a bolt of material over his shoulder. They were looking for complementary paint. “I thought, we’ve turned the corner,” D’Angelo said.
D’Angelo had been doing a similar job at a “big box” store when he came to Rim Forest Lumber. “I have always preferred being involved with an entrepreneur, a family-owned business,” he said.
As for his post-retirement plans, D’Angelo said he and his wife of 38 years, Cecile, have been thinking about doing some traveling. “I have grandchildren to spoil,” he joked.
And, of course, he has that famous honey-do list. “It’s been amazing to me for a long time how many men spend 75 to 80 percent of their time not at home to provide that home, to make it comfortable. This will be a good time to enjoy the fruits of my labor.
“Cecile has been a ‘wood widow.’ We’re looking forward to being together.”
D’Angelo, who grew up in Long Beach, spent a lot of time on the mountain as his parents had a cabin up here. “This is a terrifically special place,” he said. “I’ve been lucky to be able to live here, enjoy what I do and earn a living.”
D’Angelo noted there had been no collusion between him and McCumber on their both retiring in July. “There will be a big change around here. I think that’s a good thing. Shaking things up once in a while is a great way to refresh.”
In talking about Stephanie Richardson – who will take over as general manager – D’Angelo described her as “extremely competent and capable. It will be great to watch her influence on this business.”
Stephanie Richardson is no newcomer to Rim Forest Lumber. The Rim High graduate started working there 18 years ago as a cashier. Then she became involved with lumber sales, getting to know all the materials in the store.
After that she started buying.
Six years ago, she became the assistant to the general manager. “I’ve been learning these past six years,” Richardson said. “When Pat was on vacation, I would take care of his tasks.”
Her hope, she said, was that one day she would move up to the position of general manager. “We’ve known for the past year and a half that Pat was going to retire. I learned all I could under him so that maybe one day I could take over.”
When McCumber gave his notice a few weeks ago, Richardson got the call into Butch Baumann’s office. “He offered me the job,” Richardson said, adding that she will be the first female general manager.
“I have been warmly welcomed by the whole staff. I was already taking on the role slowly over the last few years, taking on responsibility in inventory, helping Pat do certain things.”
Richardson said it is “refreshing” to see more women becoming involved in the lumber industry. As for their female customers, Richardson noted that “it can be intimidating for a woman who’s not hardware or lumber savvy. But they come in here and know they will be taken care of, not ignored because they don’t know what they need. When they come to us, we’ll help them figure out what they need.”
She agreed with McCumber that a lot more people have been coming in recently to do jobs they wouldn’t normally do themselves.
“It’s been crazy trying to keep inventory with all the projects people are doing during the virus.” Two things they did stock: toilet paper and paper towels. “We tried to make sure we are a source.”
Richardson said she took the job at Rim Forest Lumber because it is a Mom and Pop shop. “I could work 9-5 and then be home with my kids to help with their homework.” She has two daughters – now 22 and 24 – and one son, who will be a freshman at Rim High.
As for that longevity, Richardson noted that “people come and stay here. It’s a great place to work. Butch and Yvonne are wonderful. She’s the Mama of the lumber yard, he’s the Papa. They take care of their kids.”
Richardson expects to shift people around a little bit to do different jobs, take on more responsibilities. “I want to get people excited about the prospects of doing different things. New responsibility adds a new spice.
“I’m excited to see what happens in the future,” Richardson said.