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New lumber company opens in Lehigh

May 6, 2011
More than 100 visitors, including members of the Lehigh Chamber of Commerce, builders, vendors and friends attended one of the largest grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremonies ever in Lehigh last week when Tibbetts Lumber Co. celebrated its move to Southwest Florida with its store and warehouse at 5499 Lee St. in the Industrial Park.

Linton Tibbetts, the founder and chairman of Tibbetts Lumber company has more than 60 years in the industry and said in Lehigh during the ceremony that present economic issues are temporary in the U.S. and Florida specifically will return to normal times.

“Construction will again be a key industry for our state. Tibbetts Lumber intends to be a participant in this future growth,” he told a large group in the company’s large warehouse where the ceremony was held. He brought along several members from the corporate office in St. Petersburg. All were wearing light blue long-sleeved shirts.

Mike Bowman, the general manager of the Lehigh store said the location was chosen because it is near I-75 and close to both Lehigh and Fort Myers with Cape Coral being not that far away because of Lee Blvd,. and Veterans Parkway at the Cape.

“We’rehere to serve all of Southwest Florida,” he said.

He pointed to recent reports that building permits from the county for new construction of homes has risen in the Cape Coral area and he believes it will follow in Lehigh, too.

Tibbetts also operates stores in St. Petersburg, Land O lakes, and Palm Bay.

Linton Tibbetts purchased the Cox Lumber Company years ago and after building up to be an industrial leader, sold it. He said he missed the lumber business and was glad to be back in it.

“In the next 60 years, I believe there will be a place in the market for a company that believes and practices personal, ethical service and always places the customer first. These principles are especially valuable during economic conditions like in the present,” he said. Cox Lumber was purchased by Tibbetts in 1949.

Among the corporate people and employees from St. Petersburg, Juan Quesada was in Lehigh for the ceremony. He is the president of Tibbetts Lumber with more than 44 years in the industry.

Local manager Mike Bowman said the local store and warehouse carries a large supply of lumber, tools and almost anything needed for building. There are both doors and window and the company is open for retail business in addition to working with builders. He said trusses can be manufactured at the Lehigh site, that sits of 3.25 acres.

“We’ve been here six weeks and we will double our sales this month over last month’s,” Bowman said.

It is the first time a lumber company has housed itself in Lehigh despite the fact that Lehigh was one of the booming communities five and six years ago in Florida in the construction of new homes.

Joe Whalen, president and chief operating officer of the Lehigh Acres Chamber of Commerce, spoke briefly at the ceremony welcoming the new firm to Lehigh and especially to the community’s industrial park. He also read a proclamation designating the day in honor Tibbetts Lumber Co. in Lehigh.

In addition to lumber, plywood and trusses, the firm can provide roofing, insulation paint and sundries, siding, millwork, fencing hardware and tools. And if it is not in Lehigh, it be brought here from another store,” Bowman said.

Article Photos

Mike Bowman, the general manager of Lehigh’s Tibbetts Lumber Company, stands in front of the new store on Lee Street, on the corner of Westgate Blvd. in Lehigh Acres. Photo by Mel Toadvine

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