2011 was a remarkable year. We had tornadoes, some of which were legendary, and it was the year Lynn and Vickie Persell purchased Craig’s Lumber. They began to convert it into what is present day Persell Lumber and Mill Shop. In 2014 another tornado hit, headed up 5th Avenue in Athens, and badly damaged an old warehouse right next to the yard’s main office, located at 501 North Clinton in Athens. However, all that great old brick from the early 20th century has been re-purposed into a beautiful headquarters with a retro “General Store” feel, and the Persells would like to invite you to come see the shop’s sharp new digs.
On June 23rd, the Chamber of Commerce will have a ribbon cutting ceremony at 11am, which will be followed by a luncheon catered by Lawler’s, and celebratory desserts will be provided by Persell’s “next door neighbor,” Sweet Thymes Deli, and Suzanne’s Bakery.
Lynn Persell is no stranger to our local building industry. He worked at Delphi for 7 years, and then began his own construction firm in 1986. He began to learn the trade as a kid by following his carpenter grandfather around his workshop. “He got me hooked on building,” Lynn said. He currently owns six subdivisions in Limestone County, his company builds the houses in each, and he truly loves building, especially being up high on a roof. However, in July of 2015, he decided to come down from his favorite place, put the organizational skills he learned at Delphi to good use, and run the store the way he would want to be served if he were still framing houses and responsible to meet deadlines.
He knows firsthand what a difference it can make to a builder to have a supplier who is in their corner, wants to see builders make a profit, and give them any and all help that they need. Lynn’s construction firm purchased many of their supplies from Craig’s back in the day, and Lynn wanted to have a chance to continue providing the same great service he had received. So, that is how the new place came into being, with Lynn at the helm. “It’s important to me to have people understand that this place is dedicated to making it possible for people to be able to have their dream home, whether contractors build it, or they build it themselves,” Lynn said.
He has surrounded himself with folks he calls “some of the finest, most knowledgeable people in the business, and my specialist in the mill shop has 27 years in the business.” The people behind the counter are very familiar with the needs of builders, and how to get those needs met well. He also is proud of the guys out in the yard. “They understand the industry, and are really good at getting you back on the job quickly.”
There is a grand story behind the change in the design of the new building, which has fulfilled Lynn’s dream of Persell Lumber and Mill Shop being a “showplace of products and services.” He knew they were going to use the old brick, if for no reason than that it was practical. However, his original plan had been to have the windows and doors on the façade be fairly standard. Then, one night he just “knew that we needed to change direction with the front of the building.” The result is that every window and door is custom designed and built, shows off the artisan abilities of the mill shop, and it frees up floor space for more displays. Inside, there is a different style milled door on each office, and the service counter is made from pine reclaimed from the old cotton warehouse which was damaged in the tornado. The service counter has that unmistakable feel that comes from being worn smooth from years of use, and brightly repurposed for a whole new era. The supplies are displayed in both a pleasing and well thought out sequence, and the whole place is a fine example of reclamation and restoration.
There are a number of factors that make Persell Lumber and Mill Shop a great choice for everyone from contracting professionals to do-it-yourselfers. Thirty years of experience as well as success in the highly competitive construction industry are good for openers. However, it is not often that you hear from a business owner that he “loves a challenge, and loves to help people build their dream home.” And, it is even rarer for a man to see the need to leave a legacy in the form of “helping young builders become master contractors,” passing on down what started with his own grandfather.
Save some time between 11 am and 1pm on June 23rd to see the results of a dream, enjoy a well-prepared meal, and celebrate the Grand Opening of Persell Lumber and Mill Shop with Lynn and Vickie.
Persell Lumber and Mill Shop
501 North Clinton, Athens, AL 35611
Hours: M-F 7-5, Sat 7-noon, closed Saturdays
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner