In 1975, a father and son, Jim and Joe Hahn, started Hahn Lumber in Harmony. At the end of 2020, another father and son joined forces to invest in that same lumberyard to continue a tradition of small-town service, offering a full range of building supplies.
Gary Nolan and his son Will have purchased the lumberyard and have aptly named their new business Nolan Lumber. While the name of the business is new, Gary said he and Will do not plan to make any big changes.
Gary, himself, is part of the lumber tradition in Harmony as he worked as a yard man/delivery person at Hahn Lumber for 42 years. He, like his son, joined the business as a young man.
“I was going to school, at the U of M in Waseca, and was home for summer break, working for Lauren Applen,” Gary recalled. “Jim Hahn had a crew working on the farm, building some buildings. I started working for him and he brought me into the yard.”
Working with the Hahns, most recently Joe and Susie, was something Gary said he always enjoyed. “Joe and Susie were good to work for,” he said. “They treated us well and I enjoyed what I was doing.”
One of the thing Gary likes most about working in the lumberyard is that every day is different and every day has its own challenges and its own rewards.
At 21, Will said it seems a good fit for him to join the business as well. “I grew up with it. Dad’s been doing it his whole life.”
He also recently finished the carpentry program at Rochester Community and Technical College and is looking forward to working with customers on their new projects. Will will also fill the role of “yardman” with his father taking on more of the business and operating tasks.
“I’m looking forward to getting into helping with estimates and new projects,” Will added.
Over the years, Gary has helped with a lot of big projects and has seen many changes in construction materials. He said the amount of composite material has increased, with durable, recycled options for trims, decking and railings.
The lumber business has experienced some supply and demand challenges over the past few months, which has driven lumber prices “out of line,” Gary said.
During the COVID-19 protocols encouraging people to stay home more, many took on do-it-yourself projects, creating higher demand on materials.
Both Will and Gary are committed to getting their customers what they need in the most timely manner they can.
Gary and his wife Deanna live in Harmony, with Deanna working at Harmony Enterprises. They have two children, Will and Andrea. Will and his partner Jocelyn Voeltz live in Wykoff, with Jocelyn working at Harmony Kids Learning Center.
Gary and Will enjoy hunting and fishing in their free time and both enjoy spending time in the outdoors. But, Gary joked, “Right now, there’s no free time!”
Looking forward, Gary said he and Will plan to have a grand opening celebration for Nolan Lumber, but are waiting until the weather improves and they are more settled into their new roles as owners.
Gary explained the Hahns have been a great help in these first few weeks of ownership while the lumberyard is going through its transition period.
“We’re getting all the basic paperwork done and getting vendors switched over,” Gary said. “They are still here to answer questions and to help in any way they can.”
Some might say Joe has been training Gary for this new role for the past 42 years and Gary admitted this may, indeed, have been the case.
“Joe and I had talked for awhile about me buying the business,” he said. “I didn’t want to see the business close when Joe and Susie decided to retire.”
Will has a similar dedication to the small town where he grew up and felt keeping the lumberyard open was important so residents did not have to travel long distances for building supplies.
He believes Nolan Lumber can also offer a more personalized service to their customer that cannot be found at large box stores.
“We’re going to go the extra mile,” he said. “We’re proud to be part of a small community.”