Everybody knows that there is money to be made in Lake Geneva.
Between the millionaires along the lakefront and the tourists from Chicago and elsewhere, an entrepreneur with a shrewd money-making idea can do pretty well for himself here.
Some roll through town and fill up their pockets — and then disappear.
Other business people make more of a commitment. They stick around. They get to know their customers. They become part of the community.
And in the process, they make Lake Geneva a better place.
Edward F. Dunn was that kind of business person.
In 1894, Dunn had a money-making idea. He started a lumber business at a time when Lake Geneva was a young city with lots of construction ahead. Some of that lumber is probably still holding up various buildings around here.
Dunn Lumber became, literally, one of the cornerstone businesses of the community.
And it stayed that way for 125 years, under the management of one generation after another, most recently brothers Mike and Terry Dunn. The lumber business eventually expanded to include a hardware store, which operates under the Dunn Lumber name at 826 North St.
There, the Dunn family and its employees have demonstrated a commitment to the sometimes-forgotten notion that making money does not mean much unless you are part of something bigger — a business that takes care of its customers, and that contributes to building a better community.
On March 1, Dunn Lumber ended its reign as Lake Geneva’s oldest family-owned business. The family sold the operation to Spahn & Rose Lumber Co. of Dubuque, Iowa.
Mike and Terry Dunn are headed for retirement.
We congratulate the Dunn family for a prolific business success that will surely be remembered in the history books of Lake Geneva. Even faced with the arrival of such big-name competitors as Home Depot in recent years, Dunn Lumber remained steadfast, serving customers year after year with the tried-and-true formula of a friendly neighborhood store.
It is the same formula that shoppers in the village of Walworth have appreciated for an amazing 150 years — and counting — at Heyer True Value Hardware.
These are not businesses that are looking to make a quick buck and then hit the road. They are stalwarts of the community. They deserve our respect, our gratitude, and our support.
In welcoming Spahn & Rose to Lake Geneva, we are gratified to hear the company voice support for what Dunn Lumber has come to represent. It sounds like the new owners plan to preserve the Dunn Lumber name, the employees, the store location, and, best of all, the community spirit.
That might be the finest testament yet to what Edward F. Dunn and his family achieved starting in 1894: More than a century later, no one has yet found a way to build a better business model.
Congratulations and happy retirement to the Dunn family. And thank you for making Lake Geneva a better place.