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GCI Building is now Belle Plaine Lumber

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Doug DeMeulenaere, center, is the new owner of Belle Plaine Lumber, formerly GCI Building Supply. Also shown are Dan Dahlgren, left, who is in charge of business development, and store manager Jim Schwab.

By JUDY SCHLESSELMAN

Star Press Union reporter

A familiar Belle Plaine business with a new name and look celebrated its open house May 15.

Formerly GCI Building Supply, Belle Plaine Lumber came under the ownership of Doug and Amy DeMeulenaere when the couple purchased Garling Construction Inc. in January.

As its name suggests, the business offers all types of building, home improvement and hardware supplies. It is located at 509 13th St., next door to Subway along Highway 21 on the west edge of Belle Plaine.

Doug DeMeulenaere explained the reason behind the name change.

“We want to tie the community to the business a little. It’s more than just a place to buy a board. The business is built around the community. With all that’s going on, it’s a good time,” he said, referring to Belle Plaine’s push toward economic development and community improvement.

Belle Plaine Lumber will primarily serve the needs of smaller projects, from home construction to a new storm door. “No jobs are too big or small,” DeMeulenaere said.

The business employs five workers. Manager Jim Schwab and Heather Davis continue full-time, while Sharon Herman, Curt Kupka and Roger Daniels fill in part-time.

Dan Dahlgren, Garling Construction Inc. lead estimator, is in charge of business development and has a deep background in retail. He oversaw the building of more than 700 Dollar General and Family General stores across the Midwest and was involved in store setup and training.

“It’s always been kind of fun. You can’t get it out of your blood,” Dahlgren said.

He’s glad to be involved with a community lumberyard, which many small towns are losing as big box stores grab a large share of the market.

“It’s nice to be part of that,” he said of his new venture.

Customers will notice DeMeulenaere has made some changes to the business. Inventory and displays were updated and a new Point of Sale (POS) inventory and sale system was installed. The system blends pricing to keep it more current and competitive, tracks orders and improves efficiency and customer service, DeMeulenaere stated.

Store updates include new floor coverings, cabinets, lighting and seating near the entrance where customers can relax and enjoy a free bag of popcorn.

A 1,500 square foot extension to the business’s west end is nearly complete and available for rent to a commercial tenant, as is the former Lincoln Way Rental storefront adjacent to Belle Plaine Lumber.

DeMeulenaere has big dreams for the retail area housing his business. “I’m trying to turn it into a mini shopping center. It will do nothing but help every business here (in Belle Plaine),” he explained.

Belle Plaine Lumber does more than sell building supplies. Contractor referral services are available, and the business offers free estimates and local delivery.

“We’re the small town lumberyard with big town ideas,” DeMeulenaere stated.

Belle Plaine Lumber is open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday. For more information, call the store at 319-444-2540 or email jsbplbr@gmail.com.

UPDATED May 25, 2010 12:06 PM

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