The roots of ZM Lumber go back to the late 1960s, starting out as a surplus house on the South Beltline Highway. It was the first business along the highway, which was still dirt. The bridge at Avenue I was just a bike path leading down to the river.
Marv Ziegler owned the strip of land along South Beltline from West Overland to the river. When the three surplus house owners needed more room, they asked Marv Ziegler if they could borrow about four acres of land to build a pole barn in exchange for a quarter of their business.
Later, Marv Ziegler bought out the other partners and ran the surplus house for a short time before converting it to ZM Lumber in the early 1970s. The ZM name came from the family’s cattle brand at the family feeding operation.
Marv Ziegler later sold 10 percent of the business to a design engineer and they stated making trusses for construction. That’s when the business took off and Marv Ziegler had to add another building for more inventories.
“My dad and an uncle were also operating Twin City Ready-Mix in the 1980s, so I took over running the lumberyard,” Matt Ziegler said. “We ended up closing the Ready-Mix plant in the mid-1980s, plus the feedlot and farms in the late 1980s.”
ZM Lumber continued to grow and in 1994, United Building Centers wanted to open more stores, so Marv sold them the property.”
Being out of the lumber business didn’t last long. In 1996, Marv Ziegler bought 13 acres that were slated to become a gravel pit. They’re still at that location just north of Horizons West Implement.
“It took about three years of grading,” Matt Ziegler said, “but we opened our first building in 1999. Because of a non-compete clause with UBC, we didn’t open for business until 2000.”
Starting with just over 18,000 square feet of space, ZM Lumber has expanded to more than 37,000 square feet. Currently undergoing a remodel, showrooms are being expanded, a new entrance added and more product lines being brought in.
One new convenience is a drive-through warehouse. It allows for more loading convenience as well as keeping more items inside and out of the sun.
Matt Ziegler added a new drive-through to help them remain competitive with the big box hardware stores, because he knows ZM Lumber offers better service.
Traditionally, big box stores will send $30 million to $40 million out of the area each year, Matt Ziegler says. That means money only turns over once in the local economy. For locally owned stores, money spent turns over an average of seven times.
Since Marv Ziegler died in 2017, customers have asked what Matt Ziegler plans to do with the business. He and his family have spent their lives in some form of the construction business.
“At this point I have no intention of closing,” Matt Ziegler said. “I do plan to reinvest in the company, adding more products and convenience for our customers as well as taking care of my employees.”