History Of Our Local Lumber Yards
Built on the Past, Vision for the Future
J&W Lumber has a long and rich history, and is proud to remain a family-owned business that cares about their customers and staff.
In 1957 with a truckload of used lumber, J&W Lumber was established in Mission Valley, San Diego CA on the corner of Texas Street and Interstate 8. Charley Jennings started the business by purchasing used building materials from John Woolman, a close friend and business mentor, thus the “W” in J&W Lumber.
About six months later the City of San Diego, the rightful owners of the property, forced Charley to move the business. Fortunately, having saved enough money, he was able to start a new operation on Twain Ave in Grantville.
In the early days of J&W Lumber, Charley’s workforce consisted of mostly family, which included his sister and nephews. Charley and his wife Zuma had six of their nine kids at that time and they, too, were part of the workforce. Charley had a strong work ethic that he passed on to his children – all of which worked in the business at one time or another.
At the age of 19 Jess Grijalva began a 50-year career with J&W Lumber. He started out pulling nails from the used lumber and stacking the lumber and later became Charley’s right-hand man. Charley had great vision and Jess added the detail.
Due to poor service and selection from a local lumberyard, Charley decided to discontinue selling used lumber and get into the redwood business; subsequently in 1966 the company’s name was changed to J&W Redwood.
As the company started to grow Charley purchased a larger piece of property on Marshall Avenue in El Cajon which opened for business in January 1969 and remains open to this day. Jess ran the Grantville location and Charley ran the El Cajon location.
Charley later sold the Grantville operation and in 1973 opened CJ Redwood Wholesale Lumber Company, “CJ” became a wholesale distribution yard, selling redwood to other lumberyards and manufacturers. CJ purchased Simonson Lumber Company of Smith River, California, and went on to become the largest redwood wholesaler in San Diego. Charley, Jess, and three of his kids—Claudia, Charmaine, and Clay—moved to CJ.
Charley’s son Clyde Jennings took over the J&W operation that same year and started to lay the foundation for growth on the retail side of the business that would last for decades.
Clyde was the driving force behind the decision to expand beyond the single location and convinced his Dad that J&W was ready to open four new local lumber yards: Sorrento Valley in 1981, San Marcos in 1983, Escondido in 1986, and Murrieta in 1991.
The main office and distribution center was moved to the large Escondido location in the 1980’s, and continues as such today! In 1992 Clyde became head of operations for both companies and began expanding the product line with composite decking, pressure treated lumber, western red cedar, and full-sawn douglas fir.
Charley Jennings passed away in 2002, leaving behind a great legacy in the lumber industry, especially in California, and a story of what you can do if you put your mind to it. One of Charley’s many sayings was, “work as if everything depended on you, and pray as if everything depended on God, and you’ll be all right.”
Clyde, with the help of his sister Charmaine and his management team continued to look for ways to expand the business and remain a leader in the outdoor buildings material industry and in 2003 J&W opened its 6th location in Chula Vista, CA.
Due to the continued growth and expansion of product lines, in 2004 J&W Redwood reverted to the company’s original name, J&W Lumber. The company started building an Outside Sales force lead by Charley’s daughter Charmaine Jennings as the Outside Sales Manager. J&W now comes to you!
J&W Lumber was not the only company to face the downturn of the Great Recession of 2008-2011; however, they did successfully refocus their efforts during this time. The management team constantly made adjustments and worked to “come out the other end stronger.” J&W continued making capital investments, including installing a two story lumber roller rack and a modernization of their Mill equipment at CJ.
J&W did come out the other end of the recession stronger and remained a leader in the outdoor building materials industry. While maintaining focus on long standing products like Cedar, Redwood, Doug Fir, Pressure Treated, Composite, and Hardwoods; J&W continued to expand its product lines including aluminum patio covers, siding, and a wider array of hardware and stain options.
Returning to the fundamentals, a new initiative called J&W University was implemented in 2015 to train employees and ensures J&W customer service remains a top priority.
Clyde continues to lead J&W Lumber and CJ Redwood Lumber, with the help of a dynamic management team and dedicated employees throughout the organization. Today J&W Lumber operates six retail lumber yards, a wholesale outside sales division, an eCommerce site, large mill, and distribution center.
J&W celebrated the company’s 60th Anniversary in 2017, which included a large contractor event atop the military aircraft carrier the USS Midway Museum!