By Trevor Stewart
Since the Truckee-Tahoe Lumber Company opened its doors in 1931, the only constant has been change. President and CEO Andrew Cross ’03 –– the fourth-generation owner of the family business –– knew the company next would need to respond to the rapid development and cultural shifts happening in his hometown. Truckee, known most famously as the site of the ill-fated Donner Party, in 2017 was awarded California Cultural District designation by the state, highlighting its cultural diversity and artistic identity.
Truckee’s growing entrepreneurial and artistic community brought economic shifts that may have snuck up on some business owners. But Cross has been front and center during these changes, and his active participation helped him become a more agile business owner. He serves on several local volunteer boards, including the Humane Society, Arts for Education, Contractors Association and the Rotary Club.
“I encourage others to get involved in their communities,” Cross said. “You will create a lot of connections and get the opportunity to network with people. When it comes to your community, you get what you give. I give a lot, but I get so much more back. It’s invaluable to know I’ve made a difference in some small way.”
Cross’ involvement with his employees and the Truckee-Tahoe community inspired him to convert a portion of the business into an employee-owned company. The company is currently implementing a five-year plan to make the transformation.
“We have many tenured employees who have dedicated their lives to this company. They need to have a share of the equity after helping us grow over the years,” he said. “When I took over the company in 2009, the most important thing I learned was how important it was to take care of my employees.”
The company has also made some changes to its target markets. It historically served custom home builders of the region, but it will soon open a new location in Reno and service tract home builders. These builders construct new housing developments with similar or identical floorplans. By cutting the lumber in the yard into prepackaged pieces, Truckee-Tahoe Lumber Company can deliver simple building kits and cut down the contractor’s expenses by an estimated 30 percent.
Cross said he believes owning his own business has taught him to set goals, work hard and persevere through challenges. He frequently reminds aspiring professionals and entrepreneurs to remember these lessons as they grow their careers and to always treat others with respect, regardless of status.
“Make sure you take care of the people you employ or manage,” Cross advised. “I believe you always work for the people you supervise. If they are successful, you know you are successful.”