A ragtag collection of buildings filled with artifacts of times long past, construction equipment and a whole lot of sawdust stand on East Pleasant Street. Since its opening in 1908, Poindexter Lumber Company has continually serviced the construction needs of Cynthiana.
For four generations, members of the Poindexter family have steered the store and its operations, beginning with the founder, James Robert Poindexter. His great-grandsons, Robert “Bobby” Poindexter and William “Bill” Selin, took the helm in 1997 and 1979 respectively. However, the first cousins will be the last in their family to run the business. Bobby has no children and Bill’s son has no interest in taking over the lumber store. He works for Sherwin Williams, a paint company and major Lowe’s distributor. Lowe's is Poindexter Lumber Company’s largest competitor.
Despite the possibility of a 111-year family tradition drawing to a close, Bill and Bobby remain unfazed and upbeat. They have made few attempts to modernize, relying on hand-written order forms, downtown foot traffic and a cash register from 1927 to keep the company running. In many ways, the store operates as it has for the past century, methodical and charming. “Orders run from $1 to $500,” says Bill. “We don’t bid jobs like we once did, it's just whatever happens to come in. Years ago, the big boys took us out of that so we’re just the odds and ends people these days. That’s our niche.”
Around the company’s buildings are reminders of when business boomed. Behind the main office lie concrete stalls, where coal and concrete was delivered by train directly to the store. A long-empty stable stands nearby, once ready to send teams of horses to haul materials throughout the county. Across the street sits the warehouse, built from the the remains of a torn-down distillery, a casualty of Prohibition. Inside the office, paperwork piled high around them, Bill and Bobby work. Cheerful and easygoing, the cousins’ calm demeanor provides a stark contrast to the state of the business. “Would we sell? Sure,” says Bill. “We’re not ready to sell yet, but if it was a great enough amount of money someone offered us to sell, sure.”
Bobby echoes Bill. “It’s reality that we are the last ones to run it. I didn’t really plan on staying there (Poindexter’s) but I’m introverted. It’s security for me."
"I don't want to do it without him, and he doesn't want to do it without me."