East Mississippi Lumber Company celebrates 80 years of business

An employee loads a truck at East Mississippi Lumber Company in the 1940's. (Submitted photo)

East Mississippi Lumber Company was located on the corner of Lampkin Street and Jackson Street until the new location opened in 1990. (Submitted photo)

Staff Writer

East Mississippi Lumber Company will celebrate its 80th year of business on Thursday.

East Mississippi Lumber Company was founded in 1938 by Russell Gaston and brothers Raymond Mabus and Leslie Mabus, President Andrew Gaston said on the corner of Lampkin Street and Jackson Street.

"It was my father, a bookkeeper and a driver in 1938," Gaston said. "We delivered lumber, building materials and had a little hardware."

Gaston said in the 1940's, East Mississippi Lumber Company expanded into the Boardtown Trading Post, and expanded the property again on the corner in the 1970's. The company's current location on Russell Street opened in 1990.

"In 1942 my father left to serve in WWII, and they (the Mabus brothers) came back and worked in the business," Gaston said.

Gaston said his father bought the business completely from the Mabus brothers in the 1950's, the small staff in the beginning has since grown to nearly 20 employees.

East Mississippi Lumber Company has always been a family business, Gaston said, with his mother working intermittently from 1940 until 2010, and himself working for there for 46 years after his military service. He also worked there part time in college and high school.

Gaston said in his time with the company, the most significant change he's seen is the changes in the facilities.

"We started in a pole building with a metal roof, expanded into what was a Ford motor company," Gaston said. "It was a brick building. We then built this location and relocated here in 1990 with the three major buildings on the property."

Gaston said the change in facilities also has changed the way business was conducted.

"They had one vehicle. We did everything, handling building materials, lumber and plywood, by hand until the late 70's," Gaston said. "I used to unload trucks by hand myself, until about 1980 when we were mechanized for forklift operation. We then got our first computer in 1989."

Gaston said the company's ability to keep moving forward is one of the things he's most proud of.

"We've been providing to the community and giving back to the community over a period of years," he said. "Through the years Mississippi State University and Starkville public schools have been here the entire time. We've supported them, and they have supported us in our business too. We've given back to them, and we try to contribute to the community in different ways, and we want to continue to do that in the future."

Gaston said, along with WWII, East Mississippi Lumber company has survived the Great Depression and several recessions.

"In 80 years, we went through the end of the Great Depression in the 30's, and we've had several recessions," he said. "Recessions adversely effect the construction industry frequently. We've been able to survive and keep moving forward the entire time, and we're blessed with a thriving community with a thriving town and academic institution."

Moving forward, Gaston said the company hopes to contribute to its success by giving back to the community along with providing lumber and building supplies for another 80 years or more.

"We want to continue service to the community for a long time," he said.

East Mississippi Lumber Company's current location on Lampkin Street was renovated last year, Gaston said, and it is managed by Vice President and General Manager Tony Steed.

In honor of East Mississippi Lumber Company's 80 years in business, it will host a ribbon cutting and celebration beginning at 10 a.m. on Thursday with vendors and refreshments, and discounts throughout the weekend.