In 1933, in the depths of the Great Depression, Joseph and Frances Siwek began what is now SIWEK LUMBER & MILLWORK The young family, newly married with a young baby, Joe Jr., struggled to make it. Unemployment peaked at nearly 25%, jobs were scarce, and Joe, Sr layed-off from his job at the railroad, began the unimaginable – a new business.
Given permission from his former employer, Joe, Sr began dismantling “retired” wooden boxcars, bundled the scraps and pedaled them as heating firewood. Loose coal along the rail lines also was packaged and re-sold to families desperate to heat their homes. Times were tough, but so were the Siwek’s. An important work ethic was born.
They operated on E. Hennepin Ave. delivering firewood and coal in trucks. East Hennepin Beverage sold cold drinks to neighborhood homes and businesses. Eventually, America was at war and although times were still difficult, they were getting better. After World War II ended in victory and the men returned to their families, business started to change. New homes sprang up where potatoes were grown in new areas as far north as Lowry Ave.! Coal and firewood was replaced by natural gas.
The Siwek’s adapted to the new building materials market and sold lumber, plywood and insulation to needy homeowners. Basements were finished in wood, garages were added, cabins were built. In 1947, Siwek Fuel and Lumber was incorporated and moved to the current location of their headquarters on Marshall St NE, just north of Lowry Ave in NE Minneapolis. A shiny new business amid the industry and farm fields along the mighty Mississippi River.
Joe, Jr. and Judy, now raising a family of their own, ushered the business into this new era of prosperity. The 50’s and 60’s were boom times for the neighborhood. Many businesses sprung up in NE Minneapolis and jobs were plentiful. Families raising many children lined the neighborhood streets. Miracle products, like sheet paneling for basements, pourable insulation for attics, aluminum storm windows, gypsum board replacing plaster, and hardboard for siding provided new revenues for the business.
Millwork was an important addition to the business as well. The small store was expanded and a millwork shop was introduced. Remodeling older homes needed mouldings, doors and windows. Eventually, the marquee twin buildings on Marshall Street were proud examples of progress. SIWEK LUMBER & MILLWORK. was growing into the 70’s and 80’s.
As Siwek’s was supplying the remodeling, additions, garages and cabins of the growing metropolitan area and beyond, it began to supply low-grade lumber to the manufacturing and packaging industry. Distressed, rejected and otherwise unfit-for-building lumber was provided to a wide variety of manufacturers’ shipping and packaging departments. The unique offering of all kinds of closeout and surplus building materials was expanded into the growing business. The Siwek’s needed more room and purchased a 2-plus acre storage site not far from their retail store on Marshall Street.
After a fire took a main storage building behind the office, in 1984, an impressive hardware store was added. After another fire, in 1989, at the storage site near 18th Avenue and California St. NE, it was time to expand again. Looking for a bigger distribution storage site closer to the manufacturing towns south and west of the inner city, the Le Sueur, Minnesota location was purchased. A massive 10 acre site (now expanded to 13 acres) provided the much-needed storage for all kinds of building materials. A saw mill was purchased across town in Le Sueur, then moved to the storage site, and expanded further with the purchase of more modern equipment from a saw mill in Rockford. A retail store, with a full supply of building materials, hardware and millwork developed in 1991.
The Le Sueur location flourished in the 90’s and into the new millennium by providing easy access to the booming SW Metro Area. Post and Pole Frame Buildings were the rage and Siwek’s led by providing a high quality building that meets more difficult metro area buildings standards. It is still highly regarded as the premier Post Frame Buildings in the area. The new Ag-Star Arena at the Minnesota State Fair is a shining example of this distinction.
After a devastating fire on Marshall Street, in 1993, SIWEK’s rose from the ashes to recreate their marquee twin buildings, bigger and better than ever. Proudly expanding their millwork and hardware offerings combined with their deep inventory of all things wood, SIWEK’s still provides the Twin Cities, the entire State of Minnesota and beyond with outstanding selection of products.
A Real Lumberyard, with 2 locations, serving the entire metro area and beyond. Experts in remodeling, pole buildings, millwork, hardwoods, crating and packaging lumber and more. Quality products, unique selection of closeout and surplus items, expert knowledge and helpful, friendly folks make SIWEK LUMBER & MILLWORK. a favorite destination for many.