Central Florida Lumber and Supply Company began in 1933 when the Directors of Kissam Builders and Supply Company, one of the oldest concrete and fire proof material dealers doing business since early 1922, had the foresight to recognize that a total building supply company would be required to meet the needs of the community and would likewise stimulate the growth of their company. The Kissam Directors owned a piece of property at the corner of North Mills and Nebraska Avenue which they felt would be ideal for this new venture.
With the property selected, the next step was to search out an outstanding lumberman to spearhead this new company. Alan Kissam found such a man in his friend, Francis Igou of Kissimmee. Igou, owner and operator of Kissimmee Lumber and Supply Company, was then the trustee for the liquidation of a large lumber business in Orlando. Their decision to merge forces in June of 1933 resulted in the incorporation of Central Florida Lumber and Supply Company, Inc. There were nine original stockholders composed of the six Kissam Directors: Harley Brown, J I Dunn, Kenneth Hill, Alan Kissam, E W Kissam and Roy Pulsifer with 75% of the stock; and the three lumber company officers: Francis Igou, President and Treasurer, his wife Pauline, Vice-President and Elbert Ivey, Secretary with the balance.
In 1933, Mills Street ended at Nebraska Avenue and the land was mostly orange groves. While the land and buildings were being prepared, Mr. Igou was already utilizing his flair for creative advertising to generate interest and exposure to the Central Florida Lumber and Supply Company name. He chose the site location of Mills and Nebraska as the tool to tickle the inquisitiveness of the Orlando public. He began by running small ads in the newspaper that simply read “Mills & Nebraska.” In addition, he posted signs on vacant lots and major thoroughfares that read, “This is not Mills & Nebraska” and the name stuck. Central Florida Lumber and Supply Co., Inc. opened with one employee and three vehicles consisting of one 1928 Pontiac, a 1925 White Truck and a Model T pickup. Growth was slow with the depression, and business came mainly from government remodeling programs and restoration work. Hurricane damaged roofs gave a major sales boost to the new company.
The first expansion of the company occurred with the advent of the millwork operation producing windows, door frames and special milling of lumber. This effort was rewarded with success and was quickly expanded into a two-story concrete block building.
By 1937, a new federal highway extension of Mills Avenue north through Winter Park was underway, and Alan Kissam recommended remodeling to keep pace with the potential new growth. In 1941, World War II priorities threatened the future of the young lumberyard. Fortunately, the millwork facility received a contract from Correct Craft of Pinecastle, Florida to build wooden hulls for landing craft. Additional government work included the McCoy Airbase, WPA Expo Park and the Municipal Auditorium project. This required three shifts and peak employment of 33 people.
After the war, Central Florida began its long term building boom and Francis Igou’s son, a B-29 pilot returned to join the company as a counter salesman. In 1957, Francis Igou passed away and was succeeded by his son, Phillip, as president. Francis Igou had successfully nurtured Mills & Nebraska from birth through 25 years of growth. His contributions as an active member of the Florida Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association included serving as its President from 1951 through 1955. In 1966, the “Francis J. Igou – Lumberman of the Year” award was established to recognize persons who exemplified the Association and participated actively in Community Service.
The 50’s became a decade of change and growth with a new president at the helm, Pauline Igou became secretary and Kenneth Hill of Kissam became Vice President. Roy Pulsifer, Kissam stockholder, and one of the original directors, gave his stock to his two sons, John and Tom. In 1959, John became a director of Central Florida Lumber and Supply Co., Inc. Tom became secretary following the death of Pauline Igou.
1957 brought more progressive changes to the company, with it being the first in Central Florida to open a truss manufacturing plant. In 1960, a new contemporary lumber store and showroom was erected in front of the original store which became the standard for residential design and materials. Under Phil Igou’s leadership and his searches for new ideas to improve the company, the truss plant was expanded and “The World’s Largest Board” was introduced, which became a Central Florida landmark.
At the close of the 60’s, Kissam Builders and Supply was sold to Florida Rock; John and Tom Pulsifer acquired the Mills & Nebraska stock from the Kissam’s retiring directors. This reduced the number of stockholders to four – Doris Kissam, wife of Alan Kissam, Phil Igou, John and Tom Pulsifer. Through its first 50 years of history, Central Florida Lumber and Supply Co., Inc. had been at the forefront of progress and an integral part of Central Florida’s growth.
From 1972 through 1983, the addition of manufacturing of prehung door units, U-cart concrete, concrete blocks, aggregate brick, commercial hollow metal door and frame units and a window products company were examples of Central Florida Lumber and Supply’s commitment to meet the needs of the community.
The minority stockholders, Doris Kissam and Phil Igou, sold their stock back to the corporation. In 1975, John and Tom Pulsifer left the Kissam Division of Florida Rock Industries to assume a more active role in the Mills & Nebraska Companies. In 1999 the Company purchased John Pulsifer’s stock, leaving Tom Pulsifer and his daughter Bridget as remaining stockholders.
In 1991, Roy’s granddaughter Bridget Pulsifer left her lumber yard positions as retail store manager and hardware purchasing of five years to take over the hollow metal and prehung door operation, she would become majority stockholder seven years later. Over the ensuing years, the window operation was eliminated and the door operation transformed completely into selling and installing commercial products. The metal fabrication and welding shop was brought in house in 1993 and expanded to include multiple frame and door stations.
From 2002 to 2005 the growing door operation leapt onto the national stage by securing several contracts with national retail corporations to supply their materials across the country and expanded the wood shop to build pre-hung doors on newly added automated machinery. This allowed the company be able to quickly adapt to the growing condominium market.
In 2005 a difficult but important decision was made to sell the lumber and truss operations to give the owners adequate time and full attention to continuing the successes of the operation’s growth. The sale was completed in March 2006 and at the same time, the original Mills Avenue site was sold for development.
The company made a determined effort in the spring of 2009 to expand product offerings and pursue sales of “Division 10” specialty products including toilet partitions and accessories, shower enclosures, flag poles, lockers, fire extinguishers and cabinets, shelving, glass showers, wall protection and other related items. This addition allowed the company to expand their offering to existing and new customers as the economy slowed the commercial construction industry as it had the residential markets several years prior. 2011 saw Bridget A. Pulsifer, the granddaughter of one of founding directors Roy S. Pulsifer, became sole owner of the company.
The growth, innovation and changes in Central Florida Lumber and Supply during the past 80+ years have been accomplished with the help of dedicated employees – many with long years of service to the company. The goals originally established in 1933 have continued to be the framework from which our business is operated – a dedication to high standards of quality and customer service through professional and dedicated employees who strive very hard to provide an exceptional product to our customers.