We here at EXPLORE take pride in the little community we have here nestled in the Hill Country. This month we feature Bergmann Lumber Co., a shop that has been a cornerstone for Main Street business for over 50 years. They’ve recently been given the Texas Treasure Business Award and we wanted to hear from Randy, Christina, and Shanna about their story and how they’ve remained so successful for so long.
What’s your favorite story to come out of Bergmann Lumber?
Christina: My favorite story is that I met my husband Michael while working here at the store.
Shanna: When my son, Christian, started helping out in the summer and having customers praise him on how he counts their change back to them correctly (register does not show how much change is due.) Working with family gave me chance to develop a closer relationship with our grandfather. Although he was tough to work for at times.
As a small town, small general/hardware store, how do you stay competitive against big box stores like Home Depot for the past 57 years?
Giving our customers the service they like and deserve. The big box stores are not always the cheapest.
Special orders- if we do not have the item for our customer we work hard at finding what they need in a timely manner.
Staying competitive is a challenge for any business today. We pride ourselves in customer service. We are here to help our customers and make their shopping experience as smooth as possible. There are many times a customer will come in and start off by saying “ i need something but i don’t know what it’s called” we will ask them to describe it to us and majority of the time when know what they need before they finish their description. The they tell us they were at another store and the people didn’t have a clue as to what they needed.
A lot of older buildings around town have stories about being haunted. Has anything happened that would be considered “out of the ordinary”?
We are somewhat surprised that the building is not haunted by the young Velmont Adler who was killed in the basement when the freight elevator fell on him.
There has been one incident where a lady was seen standing and waving at one of the upstairs windows. But has never been seen again.
Shanna: On a few occasion while mixing paint in the basement I have seen a shadow of movement in my peripheral vision and of course when I would look that direction I would not see anything.
Bergmann Lumber has recently been awarded the Texas Treasure Business Award. Describe the process for becoming recognized.
You have to be nominated by an elected state official or business representative. Must have continuously operated for a minimum of 50 years, operating the same type of business. Have a continuous record of employment, and operate as an independent, for profit business for a minimum of 50 years. Maintain a good business relationship with the state. Have documentation for years of business.
Give us a “brief” history of Bergmann Lumber.
In 1957 Egdar and Ruby Bergmann purchased Jack Ammann Lumber Company located at 231 S Main st. and changed the name to Bergmann Lumber Company and opened on April 1st.
In 1969 they moved across the street to the present location at 236 S. Main. In 1993 their son Randy and his wife Darlene purchased the business. At present Randy and two of his three daughters, Shanna and Christina continue to operate the family business.
What has been the biggest challenge for the business?
Looks from main street are deceiving. People do not realize we have merchandise behind our building and in the basement. Due to our limited floor space we have merchandise in the basement and mix paint down stairs too. Since access to the “back yard” is not located adjacent to our building people are unaware we have lumber, mason supplies and more behind our building.
Stocking the items that the customers want and staying competitive is definitely one of the major challenges.
Some of the biggest challenges in this business are keeping up with the trends and stocking items that customers are looking for, also staying competitive with pricing. Many people think that because we are a small family store our prices are higher that is not always true. We have had many people that come in and say “wow I just paid a lot more for that same item at the Box Store”.
What is the long term plan for Bergmann Lumber?
Being here for many more years.
We would love to continue to serve the community for as long as possible.
What would you like to say to the Boerne community?
Thank you for your support and allowing us to serve them. Without “you” we would not be here. Shop and support local for the mom and pop stores have helped make our community very special.
Thank you for the continued support over the years.We know you have a choice and we appreciate the business and look forward to helping you with your next project. Please support all the small family business in town, without them (us) there would not be a downtown.
What are some of your earliest memories of Bergmann Lumber?
Randy: Unloading truck loads of lumber by hand before having a forklift. Drivers were only allowed a certain number of hours to get unloaded or we would have to pay them extra. If we were running out of time we would just push what was left on the truck off onto the ground so the driver could leave and then we would have to pick it up and put it away
Shanna: My earliest memories are when my sisters and I would roller skate inside after hours while our mother, Darlene would be catching up on paperwork or stocking shelves. Also, during the summer hanging out and listening to our grandpa speak German with customers.
Christina: After school we would walk to the store and spend our afternoons playing outside in the lumber bins. I was about 12 years old when I had my first job here, it was repairing and re-screening window screens. It’s still one of the many things I do here today.