The Leech Lake Lumber staff includes (from left) Trey Kelley, Kim Krueger, Chuck Smith, owner Carl Berg, Bill Stading and Jon Berg.

Around the Corner: Leech Lake Lumber is three generations strong

 Leech Lake Lumber started organically back in the 1950s when founder Ole Berg purchased the property where the business is now located. A logger by trade back in the 1930s, Ole used his machinist skills after World War II to build a homemade sawmill that was powered by a steam-engine tractor. For many decades, that sawmill produced the lumber that went into Leech Lake homes, cabins and businesses. 

Ole’s son Carl, the current owner, started working at the sawmill in the early 1960s, selling lumber to retailers. Eventually the Bergs sold the sawmill and logging equipment and focused on retail sales as demand grew from rough-cut logs for docks and resorts to refined materials for stick-built homes. 

The business was growing nicely when tragedy struck in June 1976 when a fire burned through the main office. But with customers in need and some gritty perseverance, they re-opened the day after the fire. The Bergs and their staff set up an old card table and used a tackle box as a cash register to keep the shop running. Ole eventually sold the business to his son Carl to take it into the future.  

In the early 1980s Carl expanded the business, opening Cass Lake Building Center just 20 minutes north of Walker. The Cass Lake Building Center was sold January 2019. 

In the late 1970s the lumber yard became a third generation undertaking when Carl’s son Jon started working while still in high school. Carl’s daughter Kim then joined the family business in the summer of 1980 while still in college. 

As the years advanced, so did construction methods. Customized homes and engineer-built trusses were being utilized and soon became the norm, instead of hand-framed rafters and floors. 

Back in the day customers would come in with rough drawings, pictures from magazines and newspapers clippings with ideas for how they wanted their new home to look. The staff would then work with the customers to make their vision a reality. 

Today Leech Lake Lumber offers computer aided design as well as a stocked showroom where customers have the opportunity to look at and examine the products they could potentially buy for their building or remodeling project. Special order products can be easily obtained; Leech Lake Lumber is a True Value affiliate as product quality is very important to the business. 

Personalized customer service is an important concern at Leech Lake Lumber, as each individual who walks in — whether they are a contractor, someone building a new shed  or tackling a do it yourself project — is a customer that Leech Lake Lumber wants to help. 

Leech Lake Lumber continues to be a community minded lumberyard. They are Hometown Proud! 

They know anyone can sell lumber; but they sell service.

Leech Lake Lumber can be reached at (218) 547-1671. They are located at 9675 Hwy. 371 just south of the Walker Airport.

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