A Legacy of Trust: The Dunn Lumber 90 Year Story Continues

Thursday, April 22, 2021
Mike Dunn

Mike Dunn

Dunn Lumber

From the moment that Mike Dunn sat down with us to discuss the legacy of Dunn Lumber it was evident the deep passion and love that Mike holds for his family's business. To start the discussion Mike showed a video displaying the rich history of Dunn Lumber within the greater Seattle community. Mike recounted his vivid memories going to work with his Dad as a kid. He remembers the sound of the chain on the door and the smell of lumber when Mike would go to the store with his Dad after hours.

Mike's passion and love for the business speak volumes for the multigenerational success that Dunn Lumber has experienced in over 90 years in business. A cornerstone of that success is the legacy of trust that has been built between Dunn customers, employees, and the Dunn family business. During the Great Depression, Dunn Lumber was a relatively new company. The lumber store had a safe where customers would leave their money feeling that it was more secure in the safe at Dunn Lumber than in the banks. Today, the safe is still standing and functions as symbol of the trust and relationship that is the backbone to every decision that Dunn Lumber makes.

An important aspect of Dunn Lumber's success is the succession as the business has passed down in the family, however, Mike emphasized that the focus of the business cannot be on succession to have a successful business. "You have to build a place that customers love coming into and employees love coming to work. You have to build something that a younger generation would want to join." Instilling the company values into every single employee can be a challenge, and Dunn has not been immune to obstacles.

At one point in time, there was a drive to unionize the forklift drivers at Dunn. Mike realized that his employees felt like they worked for the family instead of with the Dunn family. He knew that this needed to change. Trust became an integral theme in all training and onboarding materials for employees. Mike began writing birthday and anniversary cards for all employees as his chance to reach out and connect with his employees on a deeper level. The company worked to instill the vocabulary and themes of trust within all levels of Dunn Lumber.

Building trust is the easy part, maintaining trust is much more difficult. "I can't expect them to care for my customers more than I care for them," Mike said, speaking about his employees. Every decision that Dunn makes comes back to trust, and one of the most important aspects of that is the trust and transparency with employees by ensuring that everyone feels their part to the success of the company as a whole.

Mike spoke emotionally about understanding the importance of each of his employees. Making sure that employees feel valued goes into everything that Dunn Lumber strives for. From the intensive training to prepare them for success, to the hiring process that focuses on personality over skillsets. Mike said he also understands his employees do a job that he can't do, and it's up to him to do his best supporting them in their role to reach to the heart of the customer. If the employees feel that they can trust the company they work for, then the customer will also feel that in their interactions with the business. Mike grew emotional as he recounted that one employee told him, "I came here as a temporary employee, but I didn't know a place like this existed and now I can't leave."

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