BY RENEE HENDRIX –
Tim & Jewel Strother talked and dreamed of owning and operating their own business, even before their wedding vows were spoken. In 1992 they were joined in marriage, and set out to pursue the American dream. Their first attempt at business came when they purchased a small sawmill and operated it on their property in Yocana. This proved successful for a couple of years and also allowed them to build their dream home from their own logs…
The next couple of years they found themselves in the tractor trade. Tim would make his way around the county buying and selling farm tractors. Tim says he enjoyed “wheelin & dealin”…But he did learn in order to sell used tractors you better be somewhat of a mechanic, and he definitely didn’t fit that description.
Then came the cattle business. Tim said it appeared to him that anybody that had cattle had it made. Tim & Jewel headed to the sale barn and bought the cattle that they dreamed would give them a life of luxury. After about 2 years in the cattle business, Tim said the best thing about the cattle business was “Watching the cattle be hauled back to the sale barn…every last one of ‘em!”
During this time, Jewel had pursued her dream of owning her own beauty salon. She opened and built a great business. Her clientele had grown and she worked every day but Sundays. Jewel loved her customers and really enjoyed her beauty salon, but with Tim’s new business venture taking off, it became harder for her to keep the books for the new business and also devote the time needed to run her salon.
This is where STROTHER-BILT started… Portable Buildings…Tim built their first portable building in 1999 in their own front yard. When finished, Jewel purchased a print ad and “somebody actually came to my house and bought it!!” From there it grew. They were getting more and more orders and soon realized they needed help. They hired several employees and while Tim built buildings, Jewel did the bookkeeping. With the business growing they were forced to keep moving from location to location searching for more space, eventually purchasing the land on Hwy 71 N that Strother-Bilt now calls home.
The property was once a building supply. The buildings were already set up for storing lumber and plywood. Customers would purchase a portable building and would also want to buy lumber that was stored in the lumber bins. Not to disappoint a customer, Tim would sell them the lumber. From there Strother-Bilt grew into what it is today.
In 2013 a fire destroyed the main office building. Tim & Jewel had to make a decision, either rebuild or move on to something new. They decided to do both! They rebuilt the hardware store and added a little touch of Home Decor. Tim gives Jewel most of the credit here, saying Jewel has a real knack for knowing what the ladies want. She took a little section of the hardware store and added a few decor items. Tim says “I really didn’t give it much thought until I noticed that her products were more popular than mine. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to know what side your bread is buttered on.”
Strother-Bilt still enjoys doing business with the carpenters and the do-it-yourselfers that come to their store every day. They will continue to sell lumber and hardware as long as the public keeps asking for it. “Our goal is to always offer quality products at an affordable price. Our lumber bins are still full and our hardware aisles still packed.”
The decor store has grown way faster than they ever dreamed. In just a couple short years, Strother-Bilt has became one of the larger decor stores in the area. Both Tim and Jewel are continually adding new products. They carry everything from the metal yard art that people see setting by the highway to candles and lanterns. Tim and Jewel both admitted to love hearing the ooohs and aaahhs from the shoppers while in their store…
While at a recent market, Tim said he gave his daughters the option of adding something of their own to the store. His oldest daughter, Braxlie chose clothing. She started with just a handful of ladies shirts and in less than 6 months, her products now take up a large portion of the store and she now has her own website shop.strotherfashion.com. It has grown really large, really fast.
“It sure seems funny to me that the more ideas these girls come up with, the more work it makes for me,” Tim exclaimed.
Tim stated, “We really do love the people of Polk County and we would like to thank the entire community for supporting our business throughout the years. We have been blessed to no end. We have two beautiful daughters, Braxlie & Autumn. We have a great school for them to attend… we have wonderful employees and great friends. But most of all we have a great and mighty God, and we give all the glory and praise to him.”