The People's Tribune

Schuckenbrock Closes 46-Year Career at La Crosse Lumber

Travis Glascock, Joe Schuckenbrock, Travis Barr (new manager), & Stephen Blanton
Photos provided by Nancy Geery and La Crosse Lumber

by Brice Chandler, Staff Writer

Another chapter of one of the oldest companies in Louisiana and Pike County closed last week as store manager, Joe Schuckenbrock, finished his last day at La Crosse Lumber Company. 

Joe has been a common fixture of the retail store located just off the river at the intersection of Tennessee and Main Street in Louisiana. Last Thursday marked the final day of his 46-year career with the company. 

“I’ve enjoyed working for a company that’s got a lot of local history and tradition,” Joe told the Tribune. “I’m quite proud that I’ve worked for a company like this. It’s one of the oldest companies in the state of Missouri.” 

La Crosse was established in Louisiana in 1873 after G.A Buffum was commissioned by his brother-in-law, Wisconsin Governor Cadwallader C. Washburn to find a suitable location for a lumber mill.  

With its easy access to the river and railroad lines, “Louisiana became one of the best distribution points in the Midwest.” 

From there, the company quickly expanded by opening retail yards further away from the river to better serve outlying communities. 

Joe’s journey with the company began in 1975 as a yard hand in Bowling Green. 

Raised in St. Clement, he attended the St. Thomas Aquinas Preparatory high school in Hannibal. 

“It no longer exists but back then they had some pretty high standards,” Joe explained. “I went for a year of college at Mizzou and that summer I applied for a job at La Crosse.” That summer job turned into a full-time position after his father encouraged him to continue working.  

“My dad kind of pushed me in that direction like I needed to be working instead of going back to school,” Joe laughed. “I don’t know why, because he always told me he wished he had gone to college and then he ended up pushing me towards both directions, so I started working and here I am.”   

Joe quickly became the district manager’s assistant and traveled yard to yard until the company needed someone to fill in for the Bowling Green manager who had heart-related problems. 

“I worked and filled his shoes for about three months and did very well managing the day-to-day operations of his yard, so when they decided to make a shift in management and moved him into the main office, they brought the manager from one of the other yards here [Louisiana] and made me the manager in Bowling Green.” 

Joe and his family found themselves moving in 1983 after he accepted the management position in Louisiana. 

“Mr. Buffum who was president majority owner in the company at that time he asked me to move to Louisiana if I was going manage the yard,” Joe continued. “He said, ‘you know it’s a must that you live here and get involved in the community.’” 

True to that belief, Buffum immediately got Joe involved in the Chamber of Commerce and other community-oriented groups where he flourished. 

While he normally avoids questions about his favorite memories, faded outlines of where pictures hung on now empty walls of his office are a testament to how proud he is of his wife, two grown children, and grandchildren.  

He admitted outside of his family, he cherishes the memory of receiving the Citizen of the Year award in the ’90s. There’s an outline where it hung too. 

 “I was pretty proud of that,” Joe said. “When they asked me to be the Grand Marshall of the Colorfest parade, I thought that was a great honor. Just being a part of the community.” 

Mayor Kathy Smith presents Joe with a Certificate of Appreciation from the City of Louisiana

What will he miss the most? 

“People coming in. I love the day-to-day interaction at the counter especially with all my customers,” he answered. “I have some that I think truly just come in to visit for a while. I’m going to miss seeing those people regularly.” 

Despite missing some of the regulars, Joe said he’s ready for the change and having more time to spend with family and his grandchildren ages 9 and 5.  

“They’re not teenagers yet, so they still love grandma and grandpa. We want to spend as much time as we can with them. This job has taken a lot of my time. I’m looking forward to making some of it my own now.” 

He’s excited at the prospect of not having to go to work – a task he generally performed six days a week. “I feel like tomorrow morning I’ll get up, look outside and think ‘somebody has stolen the company truck’ because it’s been in my driveway for 40 years now. It’s going to be different.” 

Joe and his wife plan on staying in the area, and he says he’ll be available for the new manager, Travis Barr. 

Barr is no stranger to the lumber industry. He’s worked as a building materials vendor throughout the area for 10-years and frequently called and stopped in at the various La Crosse locations.  

“I don’t intend to change anything that Joe has done,” Barr said. “We’re going to keep our focus on the customers we serve. Quality and customer service have always been a priority for me.”  

Joe wanted to thank all the people who have worked for and with him. “I couldn’t have done this without all their help.” He was especially thankful towards Travis Glascock who took over for him last July when he was quarantined due to COVID.   

“Thank you to everybody in the community that patronized the company,” Joe finished. “I’m leaving the place in good hands. Travis [Barr] is knowledgeable and customer-oriented. I think he’s going to do well in the community.” 

Joe was presented with a Certificate of Appreciation from the City of Louisiana and Mayor Kathy Smith for his service to the community. His official last day was Thursday, July 15.  

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