Lee Baumgarten founded Lee Lumber in 1952 with his life savings of $5000.00. Lee had invstments of $25,000.00 each from three “silent partners” who were bought out as the company grew and matured. They did particularly well from their initial investments.
He attended Northwestern University and had been an officer in the Army during WWII. He had managed a building material yard before starting out on his own. Now retired, Lee is Chairman Emeritus of the Chicago Valentine Boys and Girls Club, is a past President of the Lumber Trade Association of Chicago and was active in the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association.
Lee instilled in Lee Lumber the importance of service to both customers and community. He has donated his time and efforts to both public television and public radio and has volunteered at the Winnetka Senior Center. Lee passed away a month shy of his 90th birthday after having been married to his wife Dodie for over 60 years. Lee swam almost daily and as recently as age 85, was an avid skier, hiker and bicyclist.
Partner, Chief Operations Officer
Randy is the youngest of Lee’s two sons and has been involved in the business full-time since 1973. Randy has been instrumental in bringing in important lines and vendors such as Marvin Windows and Wood-Mode Cabinetry. Randy is typically at his desk daily well before the 7AM opening time. Randy splits his time between the Pershing and Kedzie locations. While being easily accessible to both customers and staff, Randy stays busy and involved in paperwork, assuring that Lee Lumber approves and pays bills timely to maintain the highest possible credit rating.
Randy has worked as a volunteer fund raiser for the Boy Scouts and has used his experience of being on a state champion high school soccer team to coach youth soccer for a number of years. Randy, who attended the University of Oklahoma, has two sons. Brad, a graduate of Duke University and Todd, a sophomore at the University of Denver.
Rick is in his 44th year at Lee Lumber and has worked in virtually all positions at the company including a long stint as buyer. Like his brother, Randy, Rick has done most every job at the company – either during the summer as a teenager or in his early years. As far back as 1976, Rick was instrumental in getting Lee Lumber computerized. Working directly with programmers, Lee Lumber became one of the very early users of a point-of-sale system in 1979.
Rick has a Masters degree in Business Administration from the University of Chicago, and is a past Chairman of the National Lumber & Building Material Dealers Association. Rick has been a director of The Lumber Trade Association of Greater Chicago. Rick has served as Chairman of SmartRooms, a cabinetry showroom in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart since its formation until its purchase by Lee Lumber in 2007. A past Trustee of Francis W. Parker School, Rick is currently serving on the Board of Managers of the Chicago Boys and Girls clubs. Rick has been active in youth oriented community centers for over 25 years and is a past president of a center he helped to establish.
Rick is 65 years old, married to Esther for 41 years and has two daughters, a graduate of Yale University and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business (MBA), and a recent graduate of Colby College in Maine, preparing to enter medical school.
He also is deeply interested in collecting fine art prints and drawings.