Lee Lumber was founded by Lee Baumgarten. His aim was to establish aone-stop source for remodeling contractors. This segment of the building trades had a difficult time securing credit terms with the existing structure of lumber dealers in the Chicago area at that time. The business was started on leased property of what had been a vacant coal yard at 633 West Pershing in Chicago.
The first year’s sales were far above expectations at $400,000.00.
As the company grew, a small shop was added to assemble replacement windows and window sash from pre-manufactured parts. Also, a dock level building was built, and a truss roof was extended over a period of years to enclose the entire property.
The Pershing property was purchased from The New Century Company that occupied the west half of the block and shared the rail siding. Later, that property was purchased as well and a larger mill shop was set up in that dock level, block and steel structure.
Lee Lumber now had the capability of prehanging doors, running custom moulding patterns and surfacing hardwoods.
Lee’s son Rick Baumgarten begins working at Lee Lumber.
Rick Baumgarten helps design a computerized Point-of-Sale system. The point-of-sale system allowed Lee Lumber to be a leader in the industry at a time when point of sale systems were rarely, if ever, seen outside the airline and car rental industries.
As trends changed, Lee’s customer base expanded to include the high-rise apartment and office building boom.
Downtown buildings were using doors of between eight and nine feet in height. In addition to supplying these doors premachined and prefinished, Lee Lumber stocked specially constructed nine foot doors with oversized rails allowing trimability to any height between eight and nine feet.
Such doors are now commonly available from major manufacturers.
During the boom of the early eighties, thousands of doors were shipped to such prestigious addresses as One Magnificent Mile, The Sears Tower, 33 West Monroe, and Madison Plaza.
A second location was purchased on the north side of Chicago on North Kedzie. Departments and specialists were soon established at the Kedzie location for Windows, Engineered Wood Products and Cabinetry.
Windows, doors, and custom millwork became a major portion of Lee’s business.
Shortly thereafter, a window showroom was opened in Merrillville, Indiana.
LeeLumber.com is registered and the first web pages put online. These pages are now hosted and maintained on-site. Anyone at Lee Lumber could now be reached by email.
The location is flourishing and provides some of this area’s most beautiful kitchens and entryways.
Lee Lumbers locations are connected by computer networks for faster, more accurate service.
Lee Lumber is far and away the largest Marvin Window and Door dealer in the Chicago Marketplace, one of the leaders in Engineered lumber, and is also one of the leading Wood-Mode Cabinetry dealers nationwide. Randy Baumgarten’s son, Brad, joins the company as the third generation.
2003 was a headline year for Lee Lumber. Lee Lumber continued to be Marvin Windows and Doors single largest dealer, and for the first time, Lee Lumber became Wood-Mode’s largest dollar volume account.
On November 6, of 2003, the Grand Opening of Lee Lumber’s latest Spaces & Views showroom in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, was held. The invitees including celebrities and local dignitaries were unanimous in their rave reviews. The 5200 square foot showroom was nominated for Pro Sales Magazine’s Showroom of the Year.
Lee Lumber continues to grow in the area of Cabinetry for large projects. Supply of four high rises will be completed this year along with numerous low and mid-rise projects. Even more are on the books and on the horizon for 2005 and beyond.
The year starts out with sales at record levels for the first five months. All areas of the company show strong increases.
Lee Lumber opens Lee Lumber Design Showplace at 2587 N. Elston Ave in Logan Square. The new flagship showroom provides specialized services in custom doors, millwork, windows and professional estimating services.