Lumber yard departs city, merges in Los Fresnos

HARLINGEN – The number of lumber yards in the city has dropped by one.

Zarsky Lumber Co., located at 502 N. First St., shut down suddenly last week about a year after the 10 Zarsky Lumber locations in Texas were bought by a Colorado company.

Workers at the lumber yard were clearing out inventory yesterday, running lift trucks and loading two-by-fours and other material into trucks that were headed out of town.

“We actually are merging two locations together, we’re not abandoning the Harlingen market,” Phillip Steffy, president of Zarsky Lumber Co., said yesterday. “We’ll be serving Harlingen out of Los Fresnos.”

“We’re taking some of the employees out to Los Fresnos with us,” he added. “We’ve given a nice severance package to the ones who didn’t stay with us.”

Harlingen business executives were disappointed at news of the lumber yard’s closing.

“Any time a business closes is unfortunate,” said Chris Gonzales, president and CEO of the Harlingen Chamber of Commerce, who said his organization was ready to reach out to Zarsky employees who lost jobs.

The Harlingen franchise is the only one of the Texas Zarsky locations that was closed, Zarsky workers in other Texas locations said yesterday. Zarsky Lumber Co. has ongoing operations in Corpus Christi, Kingsville, Los Fresnos, Laredo, McAllen, Rio Grande City, Port Aransas, Victoria and Wharton.

Zarsky, originally based in Victoria, was founded in 1928.

“The market will dictate what product is sold and produced,” said Raudel Garza, CEO of the Harlingen Economic Development Corp. “The closing of one business or the opening of a new business in a competitive capitalistic economy is something that will happen from time to time.”

Garza noted the closing of two Wal-Mart locations in the Valley already this year has jolted some people in the area, and he said his concerns are with the employees who lost their jobs.

“In a billion-dollar plus retail economy, that (Zarsky) store won’t have a huge impact on city coffers, but it does impact those seven families, and that, to us, is what counts.

“We’ve reached out to the former employees and have been helping them with transitions where we can,” Garza said. “Some of their skills are highly transferable and desired by other employers here locally.”

Privately held Kodiak Building Partners purchased Zarsky Lumber last year. The parent company operates a broad range of construction-related businesses in Colorado, Texas, Michigan, Massachusetts and Delaware.