Austin Lumber Company


How a tough Texas woman whipped the recession

In the greatest traditions of cowboy culture, my hat is off to Laura Culin. If the recession is the bull that threw her, tenacity is the thing that made her climb back on, and at her family’s lumber yard on the edge of Austin, she is hanging tough. Walking into the retail section of her business in a fuzzy pink sweater, with a huge smile, and a never-quit attitude, she greets visitors with handshake and a clear message: this is my place and it’s here to stay.

But getting here has been a challenge… See CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 article

About Austin Lumber Company, Inc.

Austin Lumber Company, Inc. is a family owned business that has been located at 2415 East 5th Street in Austin, Texas since 1929. Currently owned and operated by Laura Willhoite Culin.

Starting out as a retail lumberyard owned by Bernie O Willhoite, it was eventually expanded to include paint, chain-link fencing and hardware, primarily serving East Austin.

During the 1970’s, under the ownership of Laura’s father, Donald E. Willhoite the company adjusted it’s profile to concentrate on millwork to keep up with the times and needs of his customers.

Again in recognition of the changes around them Laura Willhoite Culin still has custom millwork capabilities, but has grown to include Sustainable Green Building products. She opened

the new office on 08-08-08 after rebuilding from a devastating fire with a whole line of environmentally friendly products.

She and her friendly staff cater to the local walk in trade as well as large commercial contracts, no matter how big or small you are welcome you to come by and see their showroom.


President and Operations Manager, Laura Culin, has over 20 years work experience in the construction industry. At Bauder College in Arlington, Texas, she studied marketing, business math and retail buying. From there she moved on to Austin Community College where she studied Detail Drawing.

From 1982 to 1984 she was employed by Austin Drafting Services doing contract work for Southwestern Bell, providing detail drawings of El Paso and San Antonio underground cable routes. From

1984 to 1985 she was Vice President of Between the Lines Designs, a Dallas-based interior design company, in charge of the Austin office and design team.

In 1985 she joined Austin Lumber Company, Inc, serving in sales and as a manager from then until 1995 when she became company president. In her various capacities at Austin Lumber she has been responsible for personnel, accounting, inventory control, budgeting, estimating, purchasing, job costing; as well as hands-on operation of mill equipment, from setting up machines to final cut.

Laura Culin was a founder of the East Austin Business Owners Association in 1995, a committee

chair for the Building Industrial Trade Alliance, and a former regional (Texas and Oklahoma) director of the National Association of Women in Construction.

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