HESSTON — For 70 years, Kropf Lumber has provided lumber, hardware and other supplies to customers from Hutchinson to Salina and everywhere in between.

Kropf Lumber was started in 1948 when Ivan Kropf and his wife purchased a lumber yard on the east side of Main Street in Hesston. The business began with only two employees and has since grown to employ nearly 40 people.

Kropf Lumber is now owned by Ivan Kropf's grandson, Ken Kropf, who moved to Kansas from Oregon 10 years ago.

"A lot of people have worked here for a long time," Ken Kropf said.

As Hesston expanded, so did Kropf Lumber. Land on Lancaster Avenue became the site for a new shop building, warehouse and store. The buildings were destroyed by a tornado that hit Hesston on March 13, 1990.

While cleaning up the debris, a new store and showroom were constructed, this time on the east side of Lancaster Street, to provide a place to supply much-needed building materials to others who suffered damage in the storm.

Opened in January 1991, the current Kropf Lumber is nearly triple the size of the store lost to the tornado and recently added additional deck, kitchen and bathroom showrooms.

"People always ask me if I want to start another store. No, I don't," Ken Kropf laughed.

Kropf Lumber's initial inventory of lumber, millwork, hardware, paint, cement and coal was expanded to include cabinets, windows, doors, flooring, lighting, plumbing fixtures, tools and lawn and garden supplies — items needed for residential home improvement projects or commercial construction.

"We have most of the material for building needs," Ken Kropf said. "...If there's a hardware item we don't have now, we can get it for them."

Other services offered by Kropf Lumber include roof and truss design, truss manufacturing, deck design, storm door and window repairs, advice for interior and exterior renovation projects, customized construction plans.

Kropf Lumber offers free local delivery and also transports materials up to 70 miles away for customers.

Saturday mornings are the busiest time of the week at Kropf Lumber. As homeowners use the weekends to tackle their home improvement projects, the store's staff works to get customers what they need.

The focus on customer service is one of the main reasons for Kropf Lumber's success and there are no plans to change that.

"We'll just keep doing what we're doing. We try to treat the customer well; treat people like you'd want to be treated," Ken Kropf said.

Kropf Lumber is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday (April to October), 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday (November to March) and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays at 400 N. Lancaster in Hesston.

For more information about Kropf Lumber, visit http://www.kropflumber.com or call 620-327-4951.