OVER FOUR DECADES, THIS FAMILY-RUN BUILDING MATERIALS SUPPLIER TURNED INTO ONE OF THE LARGEST AND MOST TRUSTED NAMES IN THE GARDEN STATE, OFFERING EVERYTHING FROM CUSTOM MILLWORK AND LUMBER TO KITCHEN DESIGN
BY AMANDA McCOY • PHOTOS BY ROBERT NUZZIE
In the late 1970s, Monmouth County resident, James T. Robinson, was faced with a difficult career decision. His longtime employer, Triangle Pacific, had recently left the lumber business, and the lumberyard where he spent the majority of his career closed. He knew the industry inside and out, and though his financial capital was limited, Robinson was confident that he could provide a quality of product and service that would stand the test of time. So in 1977, he pooled resources to purchase one of his former employer’s lumberyards in Point Pleasant. The goal was to offer the most comprehensive selection of lumber, millwork, and building supplies in the Garden State.
From day one, Woodhaven Lumber & Millwork was a family endeavor. The founder’s wife and two adult sons, Alan and David, worked full time alongside Robinson to help build the company. As with any new venture, money was tight in the early days, and any profits were immediately reinvested.
“My father started this with basically nothing,” explained Alan Robinson, who is its president today. “I remember on Fridays, he would ask my brother and me how much money we needed for the weekend, and that would be our paycheck [laughs]. We put all the money we made back into the company, investing the profits and growing the operation.”
In the beginning, Woodhaven’s primary market was selling lumber for construction. The elder Robinson had spent his entire career moving lumber and other building materials, so he was well versed in what made a quality product. He scoured the market for the best lumber available, and in 1979 signed on to carry engineered wood products from a Washington State-based mill that was still relatively unknown on the East Coast. An innovation at the time, today Weyerhaeuser Trus Joist is one of the most prolific producers of natural and engineered wood products in the world.
“We were the first dealer east of the Mississippi to sign on to carry the Weyerhaeuser Trus Joist family of engineered wood products,” the founder’s son explained. “Now it’s used in almost every home and multi-family building in the region.”
From there, the business took off quickly. In 1982, Woodhaven opened a second outpost, in Brick, that was three times the size of the original Point Pleasant location. As demand for materials and custom millwork grew, the family continued to purchase more locations to keep up with rising customer needs. But as Woodhaven’s reputation for quality and reliability continued to circulate throughout New Jersey, its clients’ needs started to extend beyond lumber and plywood.
“When you begin that small, you have to start expanding right away,” said Robinson. “It made sense to bring on additional products like trusses and drywall so we could provide those solutions, too.”
Woodhaven’s scope of products and services soon multiplied, expanding into window installation, cabinetry design, and flooring. Next was a kitchen and bath design center, a comprehensive catalog of brands, hardware, colors, and styles.
From millwork and moulding to drywall and insulation, from decking and railings to stairs and siding, the company evolved into a one-stop-shop for builders and homeowners, integrating nearly every aspect of the home building and remodeling process under one roof. It also recently added end-to-end custom closet solutions to its product menu.
“When we started, we were all lumber, so would special-order doors and cabinets,” said Robinson. “Now we offer interior and exterior doors, screens, and door locks and hardware. We provide cabinetry design and build trusses, stairs…wall panels. We also have an in-house team to ensure all the materials are installed just right.”
Today, Woodhaven Lumber & Millwork is a sweeping operation. Now headquartered in Lakewood, it has three full-service lumberyards, four kitchen and design centers, and more than 200,000 square feet of collective showroom, manufacturing, and warehouse space. Leadership has officially passed to the founder’s sons, who, despite considerable growth, continue their father’s vision of an intimate, family-run business.
“Employees are the most important aspect of the operation to us,” said Robinson. “There’s a great family dynamic here with our staff, and many have been with us for a long time. We have spouses, siblings, parents, and their children who all work here. We take care of them, and they take care of us. Any one of our employees can come up and talk to me like anyone else.”
While the company’s clientele now includes retail and home remodelers, 75 percent of its contracts are still construction. One of the keys to sustaining success, Robinson said, is working with builders to ensure the satisfaction of the most important individual in the construction process—the homeowner.
“At the end of the day, regardless of where you sit in construction, the homeowner is who everyone is the most worried about,” he said. “They need to be happy. It’s typically the biggest investment they will make, and we take things seriously on their behalf, with the builders, the architects, the suppliers, and everyone else. It’s a really important responsibility to work on someone’s home, and we’re honored to be a part of the process.”
When asked about future plans, Robinson said the customer will remain the driving force behind the company’s growth strategy. Meanwhile, the owners will continue to reinvest in the business, their employees, and the community.
“Having grown up in New Jersey, we strongly believe in giving back to the community,” Robinson said. “We donate and participate in a wide variety of causes, like Fulfill, Collier Youth Services, Habitat for Humanity, the Boy Scouts of America, HOPE Sheds Light, and other organizations.”
Woodhaven Lumber & Millwork
200 James Street, Lakewood / 732.901.5518
725 E. Bay Avenue, Manahawkin / 609.597.1118
1303 Richmond Avenue, Point Pleasant / 732.295.8800
845 Broad Street, Shrewsbury * / 732.933.0313
* Kitchen & Closet Design Center Only