Archive for the 'Huntsville' Category


what kind of window?

Dining Room Features A-Series Double-Hung Windows and Frenchwood Patio Doors With Prairie Pattern Grilles

HomeAdvisor’s cost guide states that on average, people spend $5,308 on replacing windows.  What can we make of that?  It’s hard to say.  Options, applications, installers and qualities all vary so greatly that it’s hard to get anything out of that kind of number.

So how do you come up with a budget for your home?  If you put much stock in the ads promoting new windows for $189 each, you may be in for a surprise.  On the other hand, there’s no reason for most of us to think its going to be closer to $1000 a window either.

The answer is likely somewhere in the middle and you will ALWAYS (especially in the world of windows) get what you pay for.  So lets make a list what may be important to you?

Low maintenance?  Question your salesman carefully here.  Just because something is vinyl or clad does not mean it is no or low maintenance.  I have aluminum clad windows on my home and they get all chalky, drives me nuts. This is definitely not low maintenance.  I should say that not all aluminum clad windows are created equal, remember you get what you pay for.

The All-temp vinyl window is fairly maintenance free for a great price.

Light?  You can usually get a cheaper window if your current window frame is intact.  They call it an insert window.  Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with an insert window.  But you should know your going to be letting a good bit less light in your home because you’re adding more frame to the window (meaning less glass).

Aesthetics?  Well this is a personal choice but it is important.  As your salesman is filling your head with all kinds of R-values, U-values, warranties and what-not, be sure to stand back and look at the window.  Oh, it may not be a new car or a supermodel, but there are differences in the way they look.  So be sure you like it.

Step-by-Step Window Replacement

There are many options available for how you group windows, lite patterns and more. Use your imagination.

Energy Efficiency?  Ah now here we go.  Do I upgrade to argon filled or Low-E glass?  Which material provides the best insulation?  How much space should be between the glass?  I cant answer categorically.  There was a time when wood was best for insulation, period.  However, technology has made strides that I didn’t think possible and frankly, am still not smart enough to understand completely.

The Andersen 400 Woodwright achieves incredible energy efficiency with very little wood.

Noise?  Remember that $189 window unit.  Not to cast stones but you’d better hope your neighbor doesn’t like mowing his lawn early in the morning.  Because you’re going to hear it.  You may have never thought of this but there really is a big difference in windows when it comes to sound insulation, so ask about it.

Where you buy them?  Now this is EXTREMELY important.  Never never never go anywhere to buy windows but Wilson Lumber.  Yes, yes I know this goes without saying.

I could go on and on but the bottom line is to decide what will work best for you.  And what’s important to someone else may not be to you.  Any of this confusing?  Just come see us at 4818 Meridian St or visit us on the web.


2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,200 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


know who you are

There are really two sides to Wilson Lumber.  There’s the side that most people know, that is, that we sell building materials to pro’s who are building and remodeling homes (although as frustrating as it is, most people don’t know that we sell a whole lot more than just lumber).

But then there’s the significant side of our business where we sell to homeowners.  Now most of our interactions with homeowners (at least in dollar volume) is with what you might call larger ticket items.  Replacement doors, decks, cabinets, etc.  Hence, our tag line “way more than lumber”.

Trex_transcend-decking-tiki-torch-lava-rock-circular-outdoor-furniture-black   McClel After   newhomeoffice1

Anyway, recently we have discontinued all electrical, plumbing and paint products (well, almost all).  It’s not that we didn’t enjoy selling this stuff, or even that we didn’t make money at it.  The problem was that we were not excellent at it.  And we believe that if you cant be excellent at something, you just shouldn’t do it.  Also, we realized that people don’t need us for that kind of stuff.  And we are perfectly OK with that.  It gives us more resources, energy and space for the stuff we are excellent at.

As if that is not enough, I attended a conference recently where I saw this particular study by the Farnsworth Group that I’ve previously written about.

Major Categories

Basically, professionals depend on us for Lumber, Millwork and Building Materials.  (I must admit, I thought lumber and millwork were building materials.  I guess they meant stuff like siding, brick, gypsum, etc.)  So, as we are excellent at those things, that is where we focus our resources.

You might notice on the study that only 3% of pro’s made their last paint purchase at a place like Wilson’s.  And only 15% for electrical and 4% for paint.  I guess I’m now wondering why we kept that stuff around as long as we did.  O well, hindsight is 20/20.

If you need any lumber, millwork or building materials, give us a call (256-852-7411) or visit our website.  And if you need electrical, plumbing or paint, we can refer you to someone excellent:)


Why Builders Buy Where Builders Buy

Last week I posted some of the results of a study about why remodeling contractors buy where they do.  Now, here are a couple of slides from The Farnsworth Group from the same study done on new home builders.  What are the most important factors to a new home builder when choosing a supplier?

builders selection

Looks like availability wins again.  This one is a little more interesting than last weeks.  In 2005, availability was tied at 3rd with customer service, behind quality products and price.  Now you can see that it has worked its way to the top, with price being in 2nd, customer service 3rd and quality in 4th.

Why?  I can tell you that availability isn’t really a problem right now so its not due to supply.  Is it because suppliers are getting worse at delivery?  Well, not this supplier anyway.  Is it because builders are so busy they just want the stuff regardless of quality?  I do know that a few are super busy but I don’t know of any builders who wouldn’t take more business.  Do builders simply care less about quality and service than they used to?  Maybe but I hope not.

Draw your own conclusions here, all I have is theories and I don’t particularly like any of them.

Now, where do new home builders choose to get their products?

builders where

Well, one thing is clear on this one.  What hasn’t changed is the need for “Lumber/Building Materials Dealers”.  I know this because I are one:)  The amount of purchases from Specialty Wholesalers has dropped a bit.  That’s guys that specialize in one area, like vinyl siding, sheetrock or the like.  I don’t know why.

I do know this.  While its comforting to know that the need for people like Wilson Lumber is constant, we dare not let ourselves get complacent.  Two reasons: One, there are plenty of other guys like us that want what we have.  And two, although the building process generally hasn’t changed in decades, there may be a better mousetrap around the corner.

And when it comes, Wilson Lumber will be on the forefront, as always.  If you need anything, give us a call (256-852-7411) or visit us on the web at


Wilson Lumber (and matchmaking service?)

Something was said not long ago that got me to thinking about how it was when I first started at Wilson Lumber.  First, I am Robb Wilson, third generation owner of Wilson Lumber.  There are five owners, three active in the business, two retired.  I started at age 12 cutting grass and making copies.

I worked every summer, and in the summer of my 16th year (the current age of my oldest son) I met my wife who worked for the company.  Here we are back then:

Cassie and I - 1987

ugh, my hair.

Anyway, the funny thing is, my brother married a girl who worked here and my sister married a boy who worked here.  They knew each other outside of the company but I met my beautiful wife here.

I got off at 4 and she worked until 5.  So I would hang around where she was answering the phone until 5 and we would talk.  That is, until my Uncle Bill told me that IF I was going to hang around and flirt with the girls, THEN I at least had to have a broom in my hands.  I assure you, there’s never been a cleaner section of floor than where the receptionist desk was.  Here’s us at Buckhorn’s Prom in 1988.

Prom 1988We found out that we both liked tennis (I couldn’t even spell tennis back then but if she liked it, then I did to) so we decided to go play, it was our first ‘date’.  She stomped me mercilessly, then I found out she played for Buckhorn, ouch.  Soon after that, we went on our second date and at that time, my family wasnt going to church anywhere.  She told me that night that she could not date someone who was not going to church.  So guess where I was the next Sunday: her church, of course.

Now 26 years later, things have changed:

IMG_0404And I don’t regret a thing.  We’ve seen ups and downs in business and its been a ton of fun and I look forward to more.  But no business ups, downs, plans or anything else comes close to the pursuit of Cassie Patterson and the dividends it has paid me.  What a girl!

Well, perhaps I’m simply feeling nostalgic today.  Or maybe you wanted to know something deeper about the company I write about in this blog.  In either case, thanks for reading.  And if you need anything from us see us on the web or give us a call at 256-852-7411.


Entitlement vs. Fear vs. Vision

I recently heard about a book where it was asserted that within an organization, the opposite of entitlement is fear.  In a nutshell, entitlement causes low productivity (true), and on the other end of the spectrum, fear also causes low productivity (also true).  Then it was stated that the middle ground is the best place.

Culture of entitlement on the far left and fear on the far right
The curve represents productivity

The middle ground is what I suppose we would call a healthy fear.  I’m sure what was meant here is a situation where accountability is present and people are well aware of the consequences should they not be as productive as desired.

I hope I’ve described it well so far.  Because I have to say, there is a missing link here that we dare not overlook.  First, it seems to me that the goal is to achieve optimal productivity (in whatever organization you are in).  And then, the deeper goal is to find the proper motivator.

Now, whereas it is true that an amount of fear breeds productivity, is that the best long term motivator?  Fear breeds productivity, but for how long in a free market where one can go find work elsewhere?  Fear breeds productivity, but is it the only thing that does so?

I say no.  In my experience, there is a better motivator, vision.  Consider which option would cause you to give your best.  A dictator who makes it perfectly clear how many widgets you are to produce or you’ll need to find employment elsewhere; or a leader who paints a clear vision of where the organization is going and what your contribution is to that goal?

To me, it’s not even close.  The Bible says, “where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Pr 29:18)  Funny, the context of that verse is a passage on discipline, exactly what we’re talking about.

So don’t mistake me, I am for healthy accountability.  The Bible also says, “if a man will not work, he shall not eat.” (2 Thess 3:10)  Discipline, what is loosely referred to above as fear, without vision does indeed, sound like fear.

Are you a leader where you are?  Provide accountability AND cast a vision.  And if fear is a more powerful motivator than the vision you are casting, perhaps it’s time to question the vision.

Well, this had nothing whatsoever to do with any of the products we sell at Wilson Lumber, but it was on my heart today.  I’ll give it to you free of charge:)  If we can help in any way give us a call (256-852-7411) or see us on the web.


Building, Home and Remodeling Show Time

Well I cant just show you pictures of all the great stuff in our booth!  Then you wouldn’t have enough need to go see it.  And Huntsville’s Building Home and Remodeling Show is always worth going to see.


I’ll give you an overview.  Door specials on replacement steel unit’s INSTALLED, special pricing on Iron Doors, Window displays from Andersen Windows and Ply-gem, both with a wide breadth of product offering, decks, siding, Shower Doors, Cabinets and Closets.


And believe it or not, we did all this without cluttering the booth up, it’s pretty impressive.  Definitely one of my favorite booths ever.

So what are you waiting for?  The show’s open now.  Come on down!  Like I said, it’s always worth going to see.  Just do me one favor, don’t go see our competitors while you’re there:)

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