By Mary-Justine Lanyon
It was 58 years ago that Butch Baumann started working at Rim Forest Lumber. Then, in 1984, when owner Tom Baker retired, Baumann took over ownership.
Since then, Baumann and his wife, Yvonne, have worked side by side at Rim Forest Lumber, taking the shop that was primarily a lumber yard to one that caters to contractors as well as second-home owners doing projects at home.
About a year ago, the Baumanns decided the time had come for them to hang up their tool belts and hit the road traveling. “This is our home but we’re going to travel,” Baumann said. They first plan to take their motor home for short trips up the coast. They already have three cruises planned.
“Steve Keefe put me in touch with someone who does commercial sales,” Baumann said. “We had several offers.” But one stood out to him. “Dave seems like a ‘good ole boy’ and that’s what we need,” he said.
The new owner – as of June 30 – is David Wiest, a Southern California native with a background in heavy equipment sales and operation, construction and operating a hardware store. He and his son, DJ, own and operate Anza Valley True Value, which carries some lumber but mostly hardware and feed.
The True Value representatives had alerted Wiest to another store that was for sale. Wiest talked to the owner on the phone and then went searching for the listing.
“I came across the listing for Rim Forest Lumber,” Wiest said. “Butch’s business is fabulous – why wouldn’t I want to buy it? And I like Lake Arrowh
ead a lot. It’s a great place, a great business, so I thought I should try to make it happen.”
That was in January 2021. Baumann was in discussion with another potential buyer and Wiest was talking to the other True Value store.
“I thought Butch had made a deal with the other guys,” Wiest said, “but he couldn’t structure a deal.”
Wiest and Baumann met in March 2021 and discussed how they could make it work. “We came to an agreement and then got the bank involved.” Wiest noted there were other people interested but “I was the most qualified. I was the only one who had experience running a business.”
Wiest found there are a “significant number of hoops the government makes you jump through” so it took until June for the deal to be closed.
Wiest and DJ will split their time between Anza and Rimforest. There will be days, he said, when they will both be at one store or the other. Those days, he said, are when they get big shipments of products and have to price them and get them out on the shelves for the customers. Wiest expects to be at Rim Forest Lumber at least three or four days a week.
Initially, he may find a rental to stay in but he eventually wants to buy a cabin with lake rights.
Wiest has seen the same trends observed at Rim Forest Lumber: more do-it-yourself projects, more women shopping. “Rim Forest Lumber is a good place to come for help with those projects,” he said. “A small, local store can walk you through what you need to do. The big chain stores don’t have that expertise.”
He added that YouTube is a big help to do-it-yourselfers. “You can often see someone walking you through doing a repair or a home project. Then you come to us and get the needed materials and parts.”
Wiest is pleased with the staff at Rim Forest Lumber and is looking forward to working with them. “Stephanie (Richardson, the general manager as of July 2020) and I hit it off and work great together,” Wiest said. Richardson is no stranger to Rim Forest Lumber, having started work there 18 years ago as a cashier. She became involved with lumber sales, then started buying. After working as assistant to the general manager for six years, she was promoted when Pat McCumber retired.
Wiest also has a trusted manager at his Anza store – Paula McQueary, who has been there for 25 years. “She runs the day-to-day operations,” Wiest said.
“At Rim Forest Lumber, in addition to a great manager, we have great employees who oversee billing and customer accounts.”
For now, everything will remain the same. With the purchase of the business came the land, all the buildings and even the plans Baumann had drawn up several years ago for a new layout. That is something Wiest would like to pursue.
“The biggest change I would like to see,” he said, “is newer buildings. I would like to have a modern store on one level.” But that will take a minimum of one to two years, with the approvals that will be necessary from the county.
Wiest is aware of the many Eagle Scout projects Baumann has supported over the years, as well as his involvement in the community. “Butch gave me a list of the programs he participated in. I will join the associations he was affiliated with and will continue to support the Scouts,” he said.
In talking about how the price of lumber has gone up, Wiest said he anticipates it will go down some but thinks inflation is here to stay for a while.
“There is more advantage to us if the price of lumber does go down,” he said, noting the additional projects people would be able to do with a lower cost would offset the lower purchase price. “We are also paying more for lumber,” he added.
While Rim Forest Lumber’s main business is lumber, Wiest said that hardware goes hand in hand with it. “We will continue to serve the community by providing the best lumber we can get at the lowest possible price.”