By KEVIN CHIRI
Tammany West news
COVINGTON – Doug Ashy remembers very well what it is like to be saved by your friends.
And that was part of the story in the Doug Ashy Building Materials company purchasing 70-year-old Poole Lumber Company in Covington, maintaining their reputation as a truly local company.
Poole Lumber Company, recently purchased by Doug Ashy Building Materials, was the site of a grand re-opening this past Friday morning where CEO Steve Ashy cut a piece of lumber in half as the “ribbon cutting” to officially welcome the community and contractors to the renovated and restocked lumber yard.
Doug Ashy, now 85, may have retired and passed the leadership of his company on to his sons and grandchildren, who now direct six Doug Ashy Building Materials companies in the Acadiana area near Lafayette.
But he remembers very well when he started his company in 1960, only to see it burn to the ground three years later. It was his fellow lumber yard competitors, who were all friends during that time, who arrived at his front door to save his future.
“I started the first Doug Ashy Building Materials in 1960 because I was suddenly out of a job after I worked as a manager for another lumber yard, only to see the owner close it down,” Ashy said. “I had three sons and a wife to support and I needed a job.”
Ashy said there was another building supply business in the Lafayette region that had closed down more than a year previously, so he talked to the owner of the property and convinced him to allow Ashy to reopen it.
“We only had four employees when I started,” Ashy recalled. “I remember having to move every piece of lumber by hand. We went to the unemployment office when we had a big order and hired three or four men to move every piece of lumber to a truck, or wherever we needed it.”
Three years into the first Doug Ashy store and things were going well until early one morning when he received a devastating phone call.
“The fire department called and said my lumber yard was burning to the ground,” he recalled as if it were yesterday. “I thought I was all done.”
Ashy went home after the fire, unsure where he would turn, only to be surprised the next morning.
“About five or six of the other lumber yard owners showed up at my door the next morning, all dressed in suits,” he said, starting to cry as the emotion of that day was still evident. “They said they would help me get on my feet, whatever it took. And they did help me to start up again—I never forgot that.”
Ashy never looked back and grew his first store into five more, now operating in Lafayette, New Iberia, Rayne, Ville Platte, Breaux Bridge and a second Lafayette store.
Over the years his three sons—Steve, Doug Jr. and Kenny—have become the leadership for the company before noticing over a year ago that the Poole Lumber Company was struggling after nearly 70 years in operation. Rather than watch the established company go out of business they decided to purchase it and allow Doug Ashy Building Materials to grow to the east.
“My father and Wallace Poole were friends since the 1980s,” Steve Ashy said. “We have all been friends with our involvement in the Louisiana Building Materials organization and have all been president of the group.”
In August, 2015, Doug Ashy Building Materials purchased Poole Lumber and have been rebuilding the store ever since. Ashy said they have spent thousands of dollars in upgrading the on-hand stock, completely renovating the showroom, increasing the merchandise, repaving the parking lot, purchasing a new fleet of trucks, expanding the product line and adding staff.
Ashy said their company is “very contractor oriented, but still serves the professional builders, do-it-yourselfers and other customers. They will see we have a very large product line, very competitive prices and the highest quality of both customer service and materials on the North Shore.”
Ashy said Poole will continue to honor all warranties on building materials or products already purchased at Poole Lumber.
“If the local folks will come see us they will see we have competitive pricing with any of the big box stores because we purchase our materials through the Lumberman’s Merchandise Coop, which is hundreds of lumber yards in the country working together to lower prices to the consumer,” he explained.
He added that the experience from his family and their staff will stand second to none when it comes to customer service.
“We understand the lumber business and it has always been built around people and service,” he said.
Poole Lumber Company is still located at the same spot at 1815 N. Columbia Street in north Covington. For more information on their products or services go by and visit or call them at 985-892-4500.