Anchor Lumber celebrates 102 years in business (w/video)
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The original Anchor Lumber store was designed by Kai Leffland, who was the son of the Danish-born architect Jules Leffland. The Lefflands were known for designing businesses and homes in Victoria and throughout South Texas.
Anchor Lumber is a Victoria staple, says Bud Tucker.
"We've been such a big part of Victoria for so long," he said.
The lumberyard is celebrating 102 full years in business this year in Victoria, something that the fourth-generation worker attributes to its loyal customers and ability to adapt to changes in business and the area.
Anchor Lumber opened for business in 1909 in Port O'Connor by Tucker's great-great uncle, J.M. Pickering. Pickering opened the business with three other partners and a few years later bought those partners out and became the sole owner, Tucker said.
It moved to its long-standing location at the corner of Moody and Water streets in 1911, and much of the original building has been maintained. Though the original showroom is now his office, shared with his dad, Erol Tucker, who owns the business, its large green-and-white painted Anchor Lumber sign on the outside of the building has been kept alive.
Bud Tucker spent a lot of his time at Anchor Lumber growing up. He remembers helping the older customers as a teenager and having a lot of different responsibilities at the yard. If something needed to be delivered, he would deliver it. If something needed to be loaded, he would load it.
He no longer always works the counter, but he still spends time helping customers when he can.
"I'm seeing some of the next-generation customers come in now," he said.
As a certified public accountant, Bud Tucker maintains all the financial details for the company.
He said the business has gone through the typical gamut of ups and downs but believes Anchor Lumber is still a big player in the market of tools, lumber and parts.
Step through the double doors, and store manager Melvin Ratcliffe will be there to offer a hand for any task, small or large.
"We make it our business to know if we have it and where to find it," he said.
A lot has changed in the industry in his 18 years of work with Anchor Lumber. There's the surge of business from the oil industry, farm industry and, of course, he said, from the people who do the restorations in downtown Victoria.
"We have a lot of the old-time materials that people are looking for," Ratcliffe, 66, said. Things like the anchor-pattern siding that a lot of the houses in the area have.
Frank Bolech, Nazareth Academy maintenance man for 23 years, has been a longtime patron of Anchor Lumber.
"They're a smaller lumber company," he said. "They're friendly and helpful."
When Bolech needs anything for projects at the school, it's easy for him to make a stop at the lumberyard.
"They've got a little bit of everything, including the odds and ends," he said.
But if the store doesn't have it, it might be available online, Ratcliffe said. There are times when the freight shipment will arrive, and he'll see a new item that a customer has ordered and shipped to the store for pick up.
That's another thing he said he's watched change over the years.
"It used to be back in the day they had to shop in the morning or when the store was open," he said. Customers can now shop late online or visit the bigger box stores, which are open later, to find what they want.
Ratcliffe and Bud Tucker agree that Anchor Lumber customer service has really grown with Victoria in the past century.
"Ninety-nine percent of the customers we know by name," Ratcliffe said. "If we don't know the answer to a question, we'll tell you."