Business & economy

Munoz strives for the American dream with purchase of longtime Nyssa lumber business

Juan Munoz talks about his store in Nyssa last week. Munoz took over Stunz Lumber Company in August. (The Enterprise/PAT CALDWELL)

NYSSA – Juan Munoz believes in the American dream.

Now he is living it.

From the time he was a child he wanted to own his own business and give back to the community.

So, when the opportunity came up to acquire Stunz Lumber Company in Nyssa he didn’t hesitate.

“It was a dream I had for a long time,” said Munoz.

Munoz knew he wanted to buy the business in 2020 but when the pandemic hit, his plans went into limbo.

“That made it difficult for a lender so it prolonged the process,” said Munoz.

Last summer, though, the lending situation eased and Munoz purchased the store and officially took over Aug. 6, 2021. He renamed the Nyssa business Munoz Lumber.

Munoz said he did a little of everything – farm and construction work – before he decided to buy Stunz Lumber. Married, with two children, Munoz said a large part of his motivation to buy the store was his focus on achieving success as a small business owner.

“I guess it depends on people’s definition of the American dream but to me, yes this is,” said Munoz. “When I was a little boy, I wanted that. I also wanted it for my kids.”

Munoz, 28, employs six people at his store and while the focus is on lumber sales his business also offers hardware, including tools, nails, home repair and decor products, paint and sheet rock.

“We are mostly construction-based but we want to serve everybody,” said Munoz.

Munoz said he understands he still has a lot to learn. He’s not even 30 and now the proud owner of a business that can trace its roots to at least the 1930s.

Yet he is a young man with an appreciation of the past, of its sometimes-weighty impact on the present, and he abides by simple rules to ensure he remains focused.

For Munoz, the words “customer service” mean something.

“When someone walks in, we spend time with them. We develop a relationship with them. Because it is not what we can sell them but what we can help them with,” said Munoz.

Munoz believes little things make a difference with customers.

A good case in point he said was an older man who came to his store recently.

“He wanted three or four nails. But we sell them by the pound,” said Munoz.

Munoz didn’t think the situation over for long.

“I told him to just take the three or four nails,” said Munoz.

Munoz said often customers without a deep background in construction might feel awkward coming into his store to ask about a product or a tool.

“Some people who come in have been building a long time and some just picked up a hammer yesterday. But we are here to help, not judge,” said Munoz.

Munoz, who grew up in Adrian, said he gets to work usually at 8 a.m. and is often still on duty past the 5:30 closing time. In the future, he said he plans to modify the hours of operation for the store.

Munoz Lumber is open from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and open 8:30 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.

“We are planning on doing new hours in the summer. We will try to figure out a schedule where we can start at 7 a.m.,” he said.

Summer means longer days and is the prime time for contractors completing projects, he said.

Munoz said he expected to face challenges when he took over the store but so far, the biggest obstacle his business faced is the ongoing supply chain backlog.

Because products are hard to find now, Munoz said he often recommends to his customers that they think through carefully any project that will need key items such as lumber or windows.

“Prices are all over the place. Now, it is not like it used to where you can go pick something off the shelf. So, I kind of tell people let’s work together and plan ahead,” he said.

The weather hasn’t helped, either. Snow and truck crashes on Interstate 84 often meant supply trucks arrived in Nyssa long after they were due.

One product, oriented strand board, a type of engineered wood like particle board, is especially difficult to find, said Munoz. It is used for walls, floors, roof covers and joists in commercial and resident construction.

Orders for this type of board are about four weeks out, he said.

Munoz said he understands that long-standing businesses in a small town are a big deal. One motivating factor in his decision to purchase Stunz Lumber was its legacy.

“I couldn’t see this out of the community,” he said.

Munoz said he loves Nyssa and plans to produce more jobs for the town.

“I want to be proud of our community,” he said.

News tip? Contact Pat Caldwell at [email protected] .

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