Proudly serving our area
for more than 100 years!

Vowell and Sons, Inc. is a family owned and operated lumber and building material dealer and face brick distributor serving building professionals and homeowners in NorthWest Tennessee and Western Kentucky since 1895. We carry a full line of lumber and building materials and pride ourselves on the quality of the materials that we carry, as well as the high level of service that we provide to our customers. Please consider using us to supply your building material needs for your next building project, large or small. We want to be YOUR building material supplier and give you the service that you deserve and have been looking for.

1949 Vowell Ad

Our History

Vowell and Sons Lumber Company can trace its roots back to 1895, when the Vowell family started a lumber and sawmill business when they lived in the Campground community near Martin, Tennessee.

Alfred Washington Vowell (the great-great grandfather of current owners) along with his two sons, John A. Vowell (the great-grandfather of current owners) 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 (grandfather of current owners) and Graham Vowell, that they named Vowell and Sons. They 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. died six months before the new land was purchased in 1942. Five years later (1947), Mrs. Emma Vowell and her two sons formed Vowell and Sons, Inc., a corporation.

Graham Vowell retired to Florida in 1954, and Morris bought their mother’s portion of the business. Morris’ two sons, Morris Vowell, Jr. and John Mac Vowell (fathers of current owners David, Steve and Richard) 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.

The Vowell family first strung Christmas lights up to the top of the two-way radio antenna atop this building, creating Martin’s largest Christmas tree. The top of the radio antenna was adorned with a lighted star. 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. In 2012, we commemorated the 50th anniversary of our tree by converting the lighting to LED lighting, which has added an even brighter light to the holiday skies since.

In 1964, our company endured a second major fire. The fire again destroyed our new office building. 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 the “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 of our early brick hauling rigs in this section to appreciate the change in technology.

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. John and Morris Jr. trained and groomed David, Steve and Richard to assume the reigns of the business. John Mac Vowell died suddenly in August of 1992, and Morris Jr. helped the next generation of Vowells assume larger roles.

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 partners. 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 the company’s needs for the foreseeable future. We also concreted the entire yard, a move that was met with hearty approval from our staff and our customers.

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.

The Vowell Family