Joplin Building Material creating a family legacy

By Terri Nighswonger

Formed out of friendship and values, with just an old desk and an electric coffee pot, Joplin Building Material Company was birthed in 1963 by Dale Lundstrom and John R. Goostree. 

The two worked for the same building material company in Joplin in 1954. When the company sold a few years later, the two decided to open a business of their own.

On April 15, 1963, when they opened their office, they had nothing to sell but their philosophy that business should be based on quality, service, fairness and friendliness.

And they had one volunteer employee.

Onie Wisdom had told the men if they ever opened their own business, he’s be their first employee and he didn’t care about the pay or hours as long as they had a coffee pot. When the business opened, coffee was perking.

Soon, the two men were dealing in sliding doors, windows and storm sashes, hustling to add to their list of suppliers. They had the opportunity to represent a brick company but they didn’t know anything about the brick business. 

“Our impression was that it wasn’t a good business to get into,” Lundstrom remembered.

To really work in the brick business they would need a railroad spur line, a forklift and a truck with a boom unloader. That took money which the two would have to borrow. The partners discussed and argued for two weeks. To settle the matter, they decided to take their business proposal to a bank. If they got the loan, they would be in the brick business.

Joplin Building Material Company was in the brick business. 

Goosetree died in 1983 and Lundstrom in 2015. With Goosetree’s passing, Lundstrom purchased John’s interest and became the sole owner. He purchased the land at 15th and Illinois Ave. and moved, mechanized and automated all operations of JBM at one location.

Today, the company is owned by Lundstrom’s daughter and son-in-law, Jenny and Troy Richards.

“I’ve been working on and off since I was 16 during the summers and through college,” Jenny said, “In 2008 I came back to join Troy full time.”

The company manufactures concrete products and masonry supplies. They provide materials to retailers, wholesalers and contractors.

“They have taken the business into the 21st century with cloud-based technology and streamlining of our production facilities,” said Kent Wilson, vice president administration/sales, JBM. “One thing that hasn’t changed over the years is our customer-first attitude. It is what we believe has stood the test of time.”

Through the years, the company has been quietly involved in the community, donating materials for Habitat for Humanity projects, as well as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. The business has also donated materials for little leagues, college and high school athletic programs, technical schools for student instruction and others. Financial contributions have also been made to many worthy causes.

For the future, the couple believes that diversification is important.

“Diversification is something we need to look at doing more of,” Troy said. “The mom and pop block plants are going by the wayside. Of the independents left, I think there are only two independent block manufacturers left in the state of Missouri. There are none in Kansas and I don’t believe there are any in Oklahoma. I believe the only two that are left are right here in southwest Missouri.”

“We’re going to have to broaden our base, broaden what we do and what we sell and what we offer our customers and maintain the customer service and the quality of our products.”

Today, JBM is one of the few family-owned and operated concrete masonry producers in existence. The company manufactures and distributes more than two million concrete masonry units each year and sells and distributes more than six million bricks annually.

“Still, every customer is treated the same, no matter the size of the job,” Wilson said. “JBM believes the customer is the boss who signs the paycheck.”

Much like in the first office, the coffee pot at Joplin Building Material Company now brews instead of perks, but it is always on.

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