Parker Lumber Co. to Close

By Rachel Pritchett EAST BREMERTON
One of Kitsap County’s most venerable firms, Parker Lumber Co., will soon close. In business for more than 87 years, it has fallen victim to a severely depressed lumber market.
General Manager Tim Lundberg, a 25-year employee, admits he’s sad.
“We’re really family here. We’ve worked together for years,” he said.
Sixteen people will lose their jobs after the company winds down over the next two months.
That includes Ken Schumacher, who signed on 40 years ago as a yard worker and now is behind the counter. At 63, he might just take the opportunity to retire.
“Who knows, I might get lucky and travel a little bit,” he said.
Prices for framing lumber and plywood are at 25-year lows. A load of lumber going out from the store that used to be worth $10,000 now brings $3,000, said Vice President Kyle Kincaid.
“The times are pretty tough out there,” he said.
Housing starts are way down, and when a rare project does come up, the bidding competition is very intense among lumber companies all trying to stay afloat, he explained. Said President Rick Barnes: “We certainly regret the need for this decision after so many years of success in Kitsap County, but as anyone involved in construction knows, this recession is like nothing we have ever been through before, and we don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel anytime soon.”
Kincaid said the company, with a store and yard off Wheaton Way, was able to survive previous recessions because it had its retail customers to fall back on — homeowners building decks, for example. But by the time the current recession rolled around, the big-box stores had captured that market.
Parker Lumber has built much of Bremerton and its surroundings since 1922, when Willard Parker set up business next to the Bremerton ferry terminal.
A second location soon popped up at Sixth Street and Pacific Avenue. That location burned in 1941, destroying all contents.
In 1937, Willard Parker bought the Manette Lumber Co., close to where the Narrows Apartments stand today.
Son Ike Parker signed on as manager there, earning $30 a week to start, according to company records.
Ike Parker bought the business from his father and ran it for the next 57 years.
Buying out companies such as Hogerson in Navy Yard City and Lofthus at its present Wheaton Way location, the Parker enterprise rode the ups and downs of the economy and slowly grew in the process.
Ike Parker died in 2004, and many remember him as not as a lumberman, but as a titan community supporter. He helped found the Bremerton YMCA and brought everyone together to redo the old Admiral Theatre.
“I think he wanted to leave a legacy in Bremerton. He wanted to be known as more than a lumberman or a businessman,” Kincaid said.
Company leaders say they are talking about a possible sale or lease of the Wheaton Way location. Peninsula Door & Millwork, which shares the site, will stay open.
Barnes thanked the community for its support over the years and Kincaid thanked employees for their many years of dedication.

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