About Us

Simonson Lumber is celebrating its 97th year of business in 2010. Many changes have taken place since 1913, when Nels Simonson first established the company. Along with the full line of superior building products from foundation to roof, Simonson Lumber is proud of the many services it has to offer its customers. The growth of Simonson Lumber began as a seed in the mind of Nels Simonson. At 60 years of age, Nels started building a lumber business out of sheer determination. Nels Simonson was born in Denmark and came with his family to St. Paul when he was eight years old. His father worked on the railroad. While Nels was still a youngster, he went to work in the railroad round house. In the 1890's the family moved to St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin.

Nels early occupations ranged from a farm hand to driving a stagecoach carrying mail, passengers, and also trading hides and farm produce. He became interested in real estate and purchased farms near St. Croix Falls. Then he sold them, retaining the timber rights. His growing interest and activity in this idea ultimately led him to what is now the 91 year old family enterprise of Simonson Lumber. A horse-drawn wagon, a pile of logs, a shed and few acres of land - that is how the town of Dresser, Wisconsin was founded. Nels Simonson actually incorporated the town as Dresser Junction, Wisconsin with the formation of his sawmill. Dresser is approximately 7 miles from St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin. Nels put up a shed, got some logs hauled in and began his operation. He used a few friends to help him in the day-to-day running of the mill. They started at sun-up with the cutting and moving of the logs, next came the debarking and then the actual sawing of the lumber. It didn't take Nels long to figure out a better way to keep track of sizes and quantities. He built a lumber barn. He had shelf areas along both walls and a driveway/walkway down the middle.This was a more efficient way to organize his business. Nels decided that instead of just selling to lumber distributions, he would become a distributor.

Thus Nels’ business evolved from a sawmill to lumber yard in 1913. This lumber business moved to St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin. Nels was always sensitive to the needs of his customers. He was quick to realize that his customers needed more than just lumber. He got involved in the hardware and paint aspects of the business. Business boomed. Nels found himself getting bigger and bigger and taking on more and more responsibility. Now he needed to be able to haul the lumber to the job sites for the builders. He recruited some friends with horses and wagons and had them haul loads. Nels also noticed that he was using a lot of coal to run his operation. So were other local companies. Since Nels had space for expansion, he seized another opportunity. He began bringing in the coal for sale. Nels had developed from a sawmill into a lumber yard offering not only lumber, but paint, hardware and coal. Nels used his economic savvy to offer discounts for cash purchases. Business was better than he ever expected. Nels was always thinking of ways to improve his business. While all of his opportunity was in Wisconsin up until now, Nels always was aware of the possibility down the road, the railroad that is. Nels noticed the rail of opportunity to up and coming communities in Minnesota.

In 1927 Nels Simonson made his debut in the St. Cloud area with Simonson Lumber (Simonson Cashway Company). As always, he was extremely dedicated to making things work. He slept out in the cement shed, (insulation shed) and took the train back to St. Croix Falls only on weekends to spend time with the family. He hired a local trucking company to haul loads for him. The yard grew fast and furious with the growth of the town. Nels prospered with his lumber, coal, building materials, hardware and paint. Nels realized another window of opportunity was the gas business. With more and more cars in production, Nels saw the need for the Simonson Gas Stations. The gas stations were a welcome addition to the prospering business. Simonson Lumber and Cashway Company was getting larger and larger. Nels started to pass some of the business on to the next generation. He had by this time opened several Simonson Lumber yards including Simonson Lumber in Hutchinson, St. Paul, Red Wing, Fairmont and the Dakota’s. His daughter and son-in-law, Elizabeth and Frank Hobbs, took over the St. Cloud, St. Croix Falls, Fairmont, and Hutchinson locations. The St. Paul yard was closed and Tri-County Lumber Yard was opened in Clearwater. As time progressed it became Frank and Elizabeth Hobbs turn to pass the yards onto the next generation.

Today, their three sons, Michael, Stephen and Richard Hobbs, continue the tradition selling quality materials and providing the excellent customer service as taught to them through the years by their Grandfather Nels and Mother Elizabeth.

In 1991, Simonson Lumber decided to stick to what it knows best ~ lumber and building materials. As a result of this decision, the last Simonson Service Stations were closed and Richard, Stephen, and Michael focused on the lumber industry.

Simonson Lumber is always striving to adapt to the changing times. It intends to remain relevant by offering specialized services to their builder customers to meet the demands placed on them by their industry. Simonson’s people, customers and the “family ties to the business’ heritage” have enabled the company to operate for over 91 years now and will keep the company operating another 90 years into the future. “ I think the greatest role of the lumber business in the future will be that of education. Our industry will have to teach consumers and builders alike about the responsible use of lumber and alternative products.” - Richard Hobbs, owner.