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By Mike Scott
Thirty-three years ago, on April 1, 1988, Mick and Sheila Wood of Kahoka took a leap of faith, and purchased Kahoka Lumber Company from Dick South. They named their new business Wood Builders Lumber and Home Center, the office of which were located across the street from their present location.
Fast forward thirty-three years and a few days, and one of Kahoka’s oldest continuous businesses has changed hands once again. On Friday, April 9, Mark Plenge, Michael Phillips, Keith Phillip and Cyrus Phillips purchased Wood Builders.
Back in the 1970’s, Mick Wood was a self-employed contractor.
“We did everything,” Mick said. “We built houses, did remodels. We even built a pool and a tennis court.”
The first home he built was for Elmer Orth. The brick home is located across the street from the Sever Library in Kahoka, on West Chestnut. Orth and his wife moved into Kahoka.
“The challenge was that they wanted it to be like their farm old home. They wanted wood floors, but they wanted wide fir flooring, like would have been used in the 1930’s,” Mick said.
During that time frame, Mick built a subdivision in northwest Kahoka, including Woodridge Drive and Westwood Drives.
Mick and Sheila both got their real estate broker’s licenses in 1982, and they bought the former laundromat (now the former Nana’s) on Johnson Street. Their real estate business continued in that location until 1991, when they moved it into Wood’s current home.
They also were Wausau Homes dealers for the area.
In 1988, they purchased the lumberyard from Dick South.
“There were three lumberyards in town then,” Sheila said.
In January of 1991, the Mick moved the building to its current site.
“This building actually sat across the street. I didn’t want to pay for a new building, so we moved it here.”
The move and renovation were about a third done when a fire destroyed the old lumberyard, on January 30. Over 50 area firefighters fought the blaze through the night.
“You could see the flames for miles,” said Sheila.
After the fire, the Mick and Sheila started again with nothing.
“I didn’t even have a hammer,” said Mick.
“Their insurance payment paid off South, who was carrying the loan.
“We had a good reputation and the local banks worked with us to get going again,” said Mick. “We went to work and finished this building, and moved into in it in April of 1991, and we’ve been here ever since.”
In 1993, Wood built the laundromat on Cedar Street, which he still owns.
“He still has some jobs,” joked Sheila.
In 2002, the couple built the Welcome Inn, which is now owned their daughter and her husband, Tabitha and Matt Herrs.
“It was a good business for us,” said Mick.
What’s been the best part?
“The best part has been the people we’ve become familiar with. They started as customers and now they’ve become friends,” Mick said.
“We’ve been blessed,” said Sheila.
“It’s be good for us, and we hope everyone appreciated what we tried to do. I always told my employees that when people come here, they have a problem, and we’ve gotta see if we can help them before they leave,” said Mick.
The new business will return to its old name: Kahoka Lumber Company. Cody Worrell will be the manager of day-to-day operations.
“Customer service will be a large part of what we do,” said Matt Plenge. “We will be adding some new inventory and doing a few other new things.
“We’re excited to be serving the community,” said Michael Phillips.
“We want to be a resource to help contractors get more local jobs,” Phillips added.
“Kahoka is a great community, and we hope the community will support us,” said Plenge.