Standale Lumber / Standale Interiors
- Written by: Tom Faunce
- Produced by: Victor Martins
- Estimated reading time: 5 mins
Standale Lumber/Standale Interiors has been providing lumber and building materials to retail and private customers for more than 64 years. Located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Standale’s services reach far beyond its local community to clients throughout the Midwest and other regions of the United States. With a large portion of its revenue stemming from business-to-business transactions, Standale also maintains a diverse client base, servicing commercial developers, single-family homebuilders, general contractors, churches and do-it-yourself homeowners.
Ken Holtvluwer, founder of Standale, began his career in the lumber business when he joined John Koppenol as co-owner of Standale Lumber and Supply Company in 1952. With no experience in the industry, Ken was eager to learn and by 1954 he had tripled the business and was able to buy out his partner.
Standale expanded its business in the ‘50s and ‘60s despite dealing with two tornadoes that forced Ken to rebuild. These natural disasters came with a silver lining: the construction of the building where the company’s interiors division currently resides. The ‘70s delivered further expansion at a dramatic pace as the company made several acquisitions and once again tripled in sales, as well as employees.
In 1995, after being a family-owned company for 40 years, Standale refined its policies and procedures and shared ownership became an option for employees through an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). Standale employees now own 35 percent of the company.
Since the passing of Ken in 2010, his son, Clutch Holtvluwer, has taken over as CEO of Standale. Holtvluwer has been involved with the company since he was a child. “Pa wanted me to work somewhere else for a little while so I could get a taste of what the world was like outside of Standale,” he recalls. “I worked at a gas station and then as a gardener. I started driving a truck for Standale in 1967, after graduating from high school, and in the summer time through college.”
With an experienced and knowledgeable staff, all Standale employees take pride in making sure that every project runs smoothly. “We have people that have been here for 20, 30 and even 40-plus years,” says Holtvluwer. “Last year, we added up all the amount of time that every employee has been with us and we found that it was more than 1,200 years. I’ve known many of these people longer than I have known my wife.”
Standale possesses the capability to assist clients in any project from concept to completion, including building, remodeling or updating a structure inside and out. Whether it’s a homeowner or contractor, Standale works with each client through the entire process to ensure that they are satisfied.
With engineered wood products becoming such an integral part of the modern day building process, specifying the right product can be a tricky endeavor. Using a suite of powerful software, Standale is able to take the guesswork out of the process. By inputting walls, beams, headers, joists and even roof loads, the Standale team is able to develop a 3-D model of any project. This model is then analyzed according to current specifications and solutions are generated for assigned components. This service is available to customers at no cost.
Along with supplying lumber and buildings materials, Standale also manufactures its own moldings and trim. The company also provides building packages, in which the company will configure a building to the exact specifications of a client. While Standale is a supplier of lumber and building materials, the company offers installation of cabinets, floor coverings, countertops and tile. “We also act as consultants by introducing customers to remodelers and builders, depending on what the project requires,” says Holtvluwer.
A commitment to community
Throughout its existence, Standale has upheld many values, one of which is a commitment to community. Standale supports more than 40 nonprofit organizations that provide food, clothing, shelter and education to those in need. For more than 20 years, Holtvluwer and his team have been involved with the Home Builders Association of Greater Grand Rapids and Home Repair Services in what is called Community Repair Day, where numerous businesses and organizations combine resources to build wheelchair ramps. “We organize volunteers and collect materials to build anywhere between 10 and 20 wheelchair ramps in that one day,” Holtvluwer explains. “We have been involved in that for 25 years.”
When Standale reached its 50-year anniversary in 2002, the company celebrated by making a significant contribution to the Inner City Christian Federation (ICCF) with the Hammer for Housing Project. The company and its partners also donated nearly $100,000 in products, supplies and labor, with the help of customer donations, to construct a custom home for the 2002 Fall Parade of Homes, which generated over $300,000 in revenue for ICCF.
In addition to helping those in need, Standale has an interest in exposing children and young adults to the numerous career opportunities throughout the construction industry. The company has maintained a strong partnership with YouthBuild, an organization that provides pathways to productive and contributing livelihoods for low-income young people through construction-oriented education programs. YouthBuild also assists people between the ages of 18 and 25 in achieving their general education diplomas and drivers’ licenses.
Standale opens its doors to YouthBuild participants as a method of introduction to the lumber industry. “They come here and take a tour of our facility,” says Holtvluwer. “We take them through our door plant and through our mill where we manufacture our own moldings and trim. We also introduce them to builders who will act as mentors in training them in a particular trade.”
The commitment to community and the family-like atmosphere that exists at Standale is what Holtvluwer enjoys the most about running the company that his father started 64 years ago. The high employee retention rate that Standale has maintained has created a place where clients can trust not only the experience and knowledge of the Standale staff, but also the pride that every associate puts into every project.
With cautious optimism for the future of the economy, Standale is looking to achieve steady growth while maintaining its small company environment. “We look to maintain a mid to high single-digit growth rate every year, which is what really works the best for us,” says Holtvluwer. “We’re really happy with the size we’re at right now because we feel it still presents us with the right amount of opportunities and everyone still recognizes each other’s face. Too much growth has the potential to generate more stress than necessary.”
Standale recognizes that for most homeowners, their homes are their most prized possessions. Since its inception 64 years ago, Standale has seen more than 30 local lumber suppliers either go out of business or be acquired by a corporate chain. The company is now the last remaining family- and employee-owned lumber and building supplier in the Grand Rapids area. With its commitment to customer service, community and quality, Standale Lumber/Standale Interiors is proud to remain a hometown home center and lumber store.
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