Servicing the East Coast – based near Lynchburg, VA

History of Long Island Lumber

by Merle Yoder (Myron’s dad)

Long Island Lumber had its beginnings in June of 2001 in a borrowed cow pasture with a few packs of white oak 2×8 lumber, a few bolts and nuts and a nearly blind 16 year old young man with a cordless drill.

Let me back up a little: Myron was born with Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis, a genetic condition that damaged his retinas while he was still in the womb. He was mostly home-schooled by his mom, Mary, who did a great job teaching him in spite of the vision problem. This included copying a single, simple math problem per page of paper with a wide tip black magic marker. If Myron held his nose almost down on the paper he could see just enough to work the problem. As the years went by, Myron’s vision decreased. By the time it was time for algebra his mom had to tape several pages together to give room for the algebra problem!

When Myron was 15 he began wondering what he could do in life with his disability. Mary well remembers him lying on the couch, extremely discouraged about his chances for gainful employment. But he was very determined that he didn’t want to sit at home and “collect a check” from the government.

I (Myron’s dad) was logging at the time and began to notice the wooden mats some of the loggers were using to get their trucks thru the wet spots. I came home one day and mentioned the idea and it grew from there. Myron would build a couple mats a day; moving them off to the side with a borrowed skid loader. Then every couple days I would stop by and trim the ends and stack them up. When we would complete a whole trailer load of mats, a local trucking company would drop a flat bed trailer & let it sit while we loaded it one mat at a time with the skid loader.

After awhile Myron was able to purchase an old John Deere forklift that was a big improvement. We also leveled off a lot at our house (now the Long Island Lumber office headquarters) where Myron could work. Up to this point everything was still done out in the open with maybe a piece of plastic stretched between two trees to shed a little water. By this time Myron usually had another young guy or two helping him. I remember them building mats in the snow trying to finish an order. You can’t wear much for gloves when you are putting nuts onto bolts; he would come in at night with a distinct line on his wrist where his jacket stopped. His hands were red and raw from there down.

Over the next couple of years he was able to put up a small pole barn shop and Long Island Lumber continued to grow. Around 2006 we added an addition to the pole barn and put in equipment to start building crane and bridge mats. By this time there were two full time employes. In the spring of 2009 a portable band mill was added to help saw timbers and lumber for building mats. Up to this point I was still logging, but around this time I stopped logging and joined forces with Myron at Long Island Lumber as co-owner.

Since 2009 the portable band mill has been replaced by a 6″ double cut band mill with capabilities of cutting timbers up to 30 ft. long and circle mill for cutting high volumes of smaller timbers. Two additional production facilities & storage yards have been added: One in Floyd, Virginia & another in Gladys, Virginia. This has increased our capacity to store customer inventory, gives us rail capabilities, and has increased production by leaps and bounds!

Today Myron spends most of his time in the office directing company decisions & activities – but he still loves to occasionally get out and get himself dirty with the guys on the yard building mats (which once resulted in a broken finger and limited typing skills for a few weeks!).

Last, but not least. There is one more presence that I should have mentioned in the first sentence along with the boards, the bolts and the blind young man. I believe that God Almighty was looking down and providing His direction and blessing – and we continually thank Him from the bottom of our hearts!

~Merle Yoder