History of Vowell and Sons
Vowell and Sons Lumber Company can trace its roots back to 1895, when the Vowell family lived in the Campground community near
Martin, TN and started a lumber and sawmill business. Alfred Washington Vowell (our Great-Great Grandfather) along with his two sons John A Vowell
(our Great-Grandfather) and Ailian Hatler (Ail) Vowell milled and sold lumber until moving to Martin.
In 1922 John A Vowell formed a partnership with his two sons Morris Vowell (our Grandfather) and Graham Vowell that they named Vowell and Sons and
brought their lumber business into Martin, operating at more than one location including the current site of Puckett Lumber Company on Cleveland Street.
Seeing the need to expand their business, they purchased the land and building at the present site of Vowell and Sons at the corner of Broadway and
Rebecca streets. John A. had died six months before the new land was purchased in 1942, and five years later (1947) the mother and her two sons formed
a corporation named Vowell and Sons, Inc.
Graham Vowell retired to Florida in 1954, and Morris bought their mother's portion of the business. His two sons, Morris Vowell Junior and John
Mac Vowell (our Fathers) bought Graham's portion. Morris Sr. and Jr worked at the company, while John Mac was away serving in the military as a pilot
in the air force.
During the 1950's, Vowell and Sons ventured into the ready mix concrete business, forming a corporation named Martin Ready-Mix. We poured concrete all
over West Tennessee from then until 2002, when we quit that business in order to expand and modernize our lumberyard.
In 1960, Vowell and Sons suffered the first of three major fires in an 11 year period. The three story brick office building that was on the property
when it was purchased burned to the ground. Two lumber sheds, four trucks, and three cement mixers were also destroyed in the fire. The destroyed office
building was replaced by a modern one story brick structure. It was on this office building that the Vowell family first strung Christmas Lights up to
the top of their two-way radio antenna, creating Martin's largest Christmas tree. The top of the radio antenna was adorned with a lighted "star", and the
green bulbs were strung along the guide wires that anchored the antenna starting at the top of the building and going up to the star, creating the 150
foot tall silhouette of a tree that could be seen for miles around. We still maintain that "tree" every Christmas to this day, and many folks stop
us on the street during the holidays to thank our family for creating an icon that they (and their children) have grown up with.
With 1964 came the second major fire that our company endured. The fire again destroyed our new office building that the family was so proud of. Our
local fire department was able to save the lumber sheds and other buildings on the property this time, but we had to build another office, which was
built as a two story building this time (still with "Christmas Tree").
Morris Vowell Sr. passed away in 1966, and Morris Vowell Jr ran the business from that time until John Mac Vowell retired from the Air Force in 1971
and joined his brother in running the business.
Vowell and Sons began selling face brick in the mid 1960's, a niche market for us that we still engage in today. My how that brick handling equipment
has changed since then! Please see the picture of one our early brick hauling rigs in this section-Wow!!
The third major fire to strike came in 1970, and this one wiped out two of the larger lumber sheds on the property, prompting Morris to build a modern
warehouse structure which (with modifications and an addition or two) we still use today. We thank our lucky stars every day that we have not had any
more fires since then.
Morris Jr.'s two sons, David and Richard, and John Mac's son, Steve, each came to be involved in the family business between 1985 and 1990 making them the
fifth generation of the Vowell family to work for the business. They were brought along slowly in the business and were trained and groomed by John
and Morris Jr. to be able to assume the reigns of the business in the future.
John Mac Vowell died suddenly in August of 1992, and Morris Jr helped David, Steve, and Richard assume larger roles from then on. Morris and his three
junior partners continued to run Vowell and Sons, with Morris sharing the benefits of his 50 plus years in the lumber business with his younger
Morris Jr. died after a short illness in 2002, and David, Steve, and Richard Vowell assumed the lead roles in Vowell and Sons, Inc.
We closed the concrete plant that year, and in 2003 began to completely restructure our lumber yard. Three older, smaller lumber sheds were torn down,
the concrete plant was leveled, and in their place we built a modern three aisle drive through lumber shed that would allow for business expansion and
should fill our needs for the foreseeable future. We also concreted the entire yard, a move that was met with hearty approval from our staff and our
In 2005 we purchased land in Paducah, Kentucky and opened a second location, which has grown in sales each year we've been there. We have big plans for
the future for this location, and are enjoying the thought of being a "chain"...
The Vowell family today has a sixth generation of potential owners coming along, and we are hoping and planning on them joining us as we serve the West
Tennessee and Kentucky markets well into the 21st century.
Thanks for reading about our family and this short history of our business,
David, Steve, and Richard Vowell