Published in 1984, the hardback book Aged in Wood is a history of the company, Payless Cashways, Inc.  Written by Virginia Sugg Furrow, the wife of Vernon Furrow, one of the founders of the company, the book highlights the early history of the company, leading up to 1984. 

As typical of many companies, this company history book was published by the corporate communications company, and saw a limited print run. The exact print run is unknown, but our editors believe the company printed 10,000 copies, if that many.  Copies of the book are hard to find, and pristine examples a treasure.

What you find here is an electronic transcription of the book.  While it does carry a copyright, dated 1984, the company, which held the copyright is no longer in business, so we are republishing the material here for access by former employees, historians and anybody else that has an interest in the history of this Midwestern Lumber Company.

In a Linked-In conversation in the Payless Cashways Alumni Group about the history of the company,  David Schneider and Roger Rand compared lessons learned by the founders in the 1930's and 1940's about growth, and how management in the late 1980's and early 1990's may not have studied those those lessons as well as they should.  Other past employees on the Facebook Payless Cashways Alumni Group expressed interest in the book, but copies are just too hard to find.  In one of the online conversations between Roger and David, Roger offered to send his only copy of the book to David to figure out how to make a copy of it to share with other employees.

Originally intended as a coffee table book, the book's oversize format that did not conform with the flatbed scanners available to David.  Scanning posed several challenges.  While David could unbind the book for scanning, that process would destroy what is a pristine example of the book.  Roger indicated that he was OK with the unbinding of the book, but David kept looking for ways to electronically reproduce the book without destruction or the high investment cost of a large format scanner. 

Investing in a series of different handheld image scanners, David created high resolution images of the pages in the book.  Stitching the scans to rebuild the pages, David could reproduce the entire page and maintain the layout image, however with a problem.  The book, and the layout format, is very much intended as a large format coffee table book, so it does not reproduce well electronically in its original format.  The stitched images never did match up perfectly, and the quality of the high resolution images make for difficult reading online, because a reader needed to zoom into the page to read the text.  In testing, readers found this difficult.  The book, and the layout format, is very much intended as a large format coffee table book, so it does not reproduce well electronically in its original format.  The next issue is allowing printing of the pages, where most users can only print to 8-1/2" X 11" paper.  The resulting text from the scanned images became too difficult to read.

Another option required David and the editorial team to employ a more labor-intensive process of transcribing the text and creating a web friendly layout.  The team attempted to do with with the first chapter of the book, and ran into other issues with OCR methods, as the page layouts did not lend themselves to OCR processes.  Short of using the high resolution scans of each page of the book and manually typing the text of the book, we were at a quandary how to best support the material.  

We decided to take a two approach to the problem.  For step 1 we obtained a large format scanner to scan each page in high resolution, but not the double truck spreads.  We scanned those images as both PDF and then as JPG image files so that a reader can view each image directly on their computer in whatever zoom level they needed to use.  We built pages in the web site by chapter, displaying the pages  together as double page spreads (double truck) so the readers can see the book layout together as facing pages.  As Step 2 we are, working a chapter at a time, posting each chapter transcribed into searchable text.

Virginia Sugg Furrow was an educated woman, trained as a physician and operated a pediatric office in San Antonio Texas. Partly as a labor of love, with a great deal help and support from Vern, and the communications team at Payless, Virginia dedicated long hours and painstaking research author this book. Virginia was not a professional writer, so there are minor grammatical errors.  We reproduced the text and material as faithfully as possible to the original text. In a few instances we changed some punctuation or replaced pronouns with actual names to help clarify the text. However, as much as possible, what you read in the transcriptions is as it appears on the page.

We hope that you enjoy the reproduction of the book, and the history of what was in the mind of many, the best retail home improvement chain.

Don't do it yourself without us! - Payless Cashways




About Roger Rand -

Roger Rand started at Payless Cashways in the Omaha #16 store in the mid 1970's as a part time yard salesman.  Over the next few years he moved up to In Store Supervisor under Larry Koeppen, where Koeppen's team re-merchandised the entire store, developing the merhandising concepts that moved Payless forward in product presentation in the Building Material industry.   Later promoted to Assistant Manager of the new Store #55 in Wichita Kansas, Rand was part of the team that opened that new store in record time (28 days after the floor tile was laid).  A short 10 months later Rand moved on to his next promotion, Manager of store #36 in South Kansas City, which was one of 8 management training stores in the chain.  Roger also served the company as one of 6 " Store Doctor's", traveling to problem stores in other markets and helping to develop the management teams of those stores.

"I have to say that the "Payless" experience was the most exciting and enjoyable years in my working life, even considering that I owned a lumberyard and hardware store for 11 years after leaving Payless. I will always miss the challenge and camaraderie that I experienced there."

About David Schneider -

David Schneider started at Payless Cashways as a yard salesman in 1985 at #43, Springfield Missouri (the store with the largest yard in the company) while working his way through his second degree in college.  Promoted 4 times in 16 months, Schneider was managing the Hardware Department in the store when he graduated.  Convinced that Schneider should stay in the company after graduation, Store Assistant Manager Rick Harrison engineered a a phone call between Schneider and Distribution Vice President Jim Bryan, which led to Schneider's promotion to Assistant DC Manager at DC#909 in Phoenix.  19 months later, David ended up in corporate, helping with the start up of DC#918 in Sedalia, MO, worked as part of the Lumberyard Strategic Task-force, was one of the few PCI people to help start up the Somerville Lumber DC#917 in Bellingham, MA, and led the project to pilot UPC scanning in the company.

"Living through the LBO taught me how radical changes in finance management requires radical changes in company culture.  My 7 years at Payless gave me an opportunity that few other companies could copy; what I learned there shaped how I worked as a consulting engineer and as a logistics leader.  I continue to teach those lessons to my clients today"