WW Wood Products putting Dudley on the map
The rural Stoddard County city of Dudley has a population of 232 residents, but when WW Wood Products is in full swing during the work week, nearly five times the population of the city occupies the company’s 1.5 million-square-foot facilities.
The spacious metal buildings that house WW Wood Products are visible from Highway 60. The company’s presence significantly altered the landscape as they repeatedly expanded their operation over the past four decades.
Ron and Linda Wunderlich established WW Wood Products in 1977 in a modest building that sentimentally remains in use for storage purposes today. At its start, the business operated as a molding and milled lumber supplier, selling to local contractors and to local cabinet makers across Southeast Missouri.
The Wunderlichs - a family whose priorities center around faith and family -- lived at the time in Perryville, about 100 miles from the tiny community of Dudley, but they saw the potential in locating in Stoddard County.
“The labor market supply was excellent in the area,” explains Ken Rinehart, a longtime human resources manager at WW Wood. “Dudley was also an excellent location since Highway 60 connects to U.S. 67 as well as interstates 55 and 57.”
Most important in settling in Dudley, however, was the support that came from the city, its leaders and its residents.
Expansion seems to have been never-ending for WW Wood, and with that expansion, a partnership developed with the city of Dudley that Ron Wunderlich attests has been instrumental in the company’s sustained growth.
“What we have done for the city of Dudley pales in comparison to what the city has done for us,” he says. “Our growth would not have been possible without the foresight of the city’s leaders.”
In order to accommodate an industry the size of WW Wood, the city’s outdated sewer system would need a significant upgrade. A new water tower would need to be erected to greatly increase the water supply. The city streets, unaccustomed to the traffic that comes with a daily increased population of 1,100 workers, would require repaving.
Additionally, the Dudley Fire Department - in order to meet the needs of an industry the size of WW Wood -- required a new facility, greater manpower, upgraded fire fighting equipment and a substantially improved fleet.
The Wunderlichs went to work to accommodate the fire department’s needs, but the company’s founder gives all credit to the Dudley community and its leadership for sharing their vision.
“The city leaders and residents of Dudley have welcomed and partnered with us, and because of that, we have grown together over the past four decades and will hopefully continue to do so for decades to come,” Wunderlich notes.
WW Wood Products has evolved from a one-room molding and milled lumber supplier into one of North America’s leading manufacturers of wood moldings, cabinet doors and custom cabinetry for both commercial and residential customers.
The company focuses on distinction, style and originality. Their products are sold through a network that spans much of the continental U.S. and the Virgin Islands. For domestic deliveries, the company utilizes their own fleet of trucks and puts local independent drivers from the area to work as well.
WW Wood utilizes hardwoods including maple, oak, hickory, knotty alder, poplar and cherry in their cabinet making. Favorites, however, change with time.
“There are trends,” says Rinehart. “Over the years, we’ve seen it go from more oak to more maple - from stained cabinets to painted cabinets and everything in between. It’s about what the customer wants.”
Rinehart says the company builds cabinets in accordance with what their customers’ desire.
“We build custom cabinets, so if the customer wants something, we try to build it,” he says.
The company offers three lines of cabinetry - Shiloh, Aspect and Eclipse -- and has evolved into one of the top three privately held kitchen cabinet manufacturers in the United States.
Family and team members
WW Wood Products, Inc. continues - as it has since its inception - to operate as a private, family-owned industry. Ron and Linda Wunderlich have two children. Both, along with their parents, are actively involved with the company. As owners, however, the Wunderlichs take little credit for the success of the company that is approaching its 42nd year. Rather, they give full credit to the city of Dudley and to every “team member” they employ.
“Our team members take great pride in building a product they would want in their own homes,” says Ron Wunderlich.
“Our employees are the heart and soul of WW Wood Products,” he adds. “While we’re proud of our ability to remain self-sufficient, that would never have been possible without the overwhelming commitment by all of our team members over the last four decades and the important role they have played in our company’s success.”