Whelan's Lumber is keeping its name and employees but gaining new products and buying power, now that the company is being sold to a Kansas City-area company.
Whelan's, with locations in Lawrence and Topeka, is being sold to McCray Lumber, an Overland Park-based operator with seven lumber yards in the metro area, two millwork plants and a truss plant in Topeka. McCray reported revenues of $97 million last year.
The sale will give Whelan's employees more security, its customers more variety and longtime Whelan's president Ward Whelan - who is battling through a cancer relapse - plenty of peace of mind.
"There's been a question mark hanging over our employees' heads, as well as for some of our customers, about what happens if I really get sick," said Whelan, whose initial diagnosis came in 2003.
"That's been a concern of mine, too: Even though we've got great people, when the owner is potentially struggling healthwise, what would happen to the company?
"This pretty much takes care of that. The future is guaranteed."
The deal is scheduled to close March 31, after a final inventory is conducted March 28. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The Whelan's name will remain, honoring the company founded in 1908, when square nails and mule-drawn delivery carts were the norm. Whelan expects all 59 Whelan's employees - himself included - to remain with McCray.
Whelan will manage the two Whelan's locations, which focus on serving contractors from Manhattan to the Kansas City area with lumber, windows, doors, siding, hardware and some plumbing materials.
Kitchen cabinets for new construction will be among the additional products coming to Whelan's, he said. The supply won't be immediate but will be expected to arrive as the transition has time to take hold.
"They just have some resources that we don't have," Whelan said.