The Free Press, Mankato, MN


February 17, 2014

Building a family business

Puhlmann Lumber & Design withstands competition

In 1926, Puhlmann Lumber & Design began when John “Hans” Puhlmann Sr.’s grandfather, Alfred, and his great uncle, Otto, with the help of his great-grandfather, August, decided to go into business together. The Puhlmann brothers primarily handled nails, lumber, and coal, while their building was positioned next to the railroad tracks for easier access to supplies.

Alfred’s son, James “Jim” Puhlman, joined the mix, in 1936. When Jim married Marie, she began working at Puhlmann. By the early 1950’s, the company added basic hardware and paints to its inventory lineup. Jim Puhlmann would become president, in 1958.

Hans Puhlmann started working for his father, Jim, as a teenager. At 16 years old, Hans was handed a piece of paper and told to draw a house. The house Hans drew for his father, was also the first house Hans created for a customer that was built.

When Hans married Bette, she also joined the family business. During the 1990s, Hans became president and his wife Bette, vice president. In 1994, the two contemplated leaving their current location, since many of New Ulm’s businesses were located on Broadway and Minnesota Streets, and not in what was quickly becoming known as the old industrial side of town.

“We thought long and hard about relocating our store,” said Bette, “and then we decided that this is probably still the best location for us.”

During the late ‘90s, Hans and Bette’s son, Jared, joined Puhlmann Lumber & Design. Currently, Jared is yard foreman, handling deliveries and shipments within the yard. Two years later, Kayla, Jared’s sister, joined the family business. Today, Kayla is a designer, within the kitchen, bath, flooring, and paint departments.

Minnesota Valley Business magazine: What’s it like to grow up in a family business?

Hans: When you start out as a child and you are down here all the time, it’s kind of the way it is.

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