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Friday, July 4, 2014

Mill Creek Lumber, anticipating new-home rebound, to expand in north Wichita

By Bill Wilson
The Wichita Eagle

A Tulsa lumber firm is betting heavily on the return of the Wichita new-homes market, announcing a major expansion today in the north central part of the city.

Mill Creek Lumber & Supply has leased 37,000 square feet of a facility at 2000 E. 37th St. North, with plans to open a door shop, truss manufacturing operation and showroom there on July 1.

Jeff Dunn, the president of the Oklahoma firm, said the company is positioning itself for the inevitable upturn in new-home building locally.

“In the markets we’re in, we’re seeing modest growth over the last couple of years and that’s a lot better than where we’ve come from,” Dunn said. “We want to see our piece of the pie grow, but we want to see the pie grow in general, and we’re cautiously optimistic about Wichita.”

Mill Creek leased the building space from its new owner, John Wadsworth, who acquired it earlier this year in a sheriff’s sale. The building is undergoing extensive renovations, said one of the commercial agents who brokered the deal, Tymber Lee of NAI John T. Arnold & Associates in Wichita. The remaining 43,000 square feet at the site is available for another tenant, Lee said.

The expansion includes the transfer of about 16 employees from Mill Creek’s Belle Plaine truss shop, which will be closed, said Jay Robinson, who handles the company’s Wichita operation. In addition, Mill Creek expects to add six to 10 more employees to the north central Wichita facility.

Robinson said about 2,400 square feet of the new facility will be used for a sales office and showroom. The remaining 35,000 square feet will be split between a door shop and the automated floor and roof truss facility.

“We think we can increase our production capability four to five times with this move,” Robinson said.

Dunn said the company is trying to place itself strategically in the Wichita market, to quickly get building supplies to on-site contractors.

“We couldn’t be happier about the location,” Robinson said. “We’ve got great access to K-96 and the interstate “

Pat Goebel, president of competitor Star Lumber in Wichita, couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.

Mill Creek is a full-service building materials firm that operates from 36 locations in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. The company focuses on lumber and supplies, carpet and tile, home improvements and kitchens.

Reach Bill Wilson at 316-268-6290 or bwilson@wichitaeagle.com.

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