From Vesta Lee Lumber to Washington, D.C.

NLBMDA Chair Jim Bishop is an equal-opportunity industry supporter.

Upon the death of his father in 1977, Jim Bishop left Kansas State University to come home to run the family business: Vesta Lee Lumber & Hardware in Bonner Springs, Kan.

He’s had a memorable run ever since.

“The thing that I like about my job is that we make our customs happy. When we help build their house, and they get into that house—that’s a great feeling. If you’re a funeral director everybody comes to you with a broken heart. That would be a sad industry. But we’re making all our customers happy.”

Jim Bishop
Jim Bishop, left, with master of ceremonies Richard Laible, during the 2022 ProDealer Industry Summit.

Bishop’s involvement in lumber associations began shortly after he entered the business.

“The Lumbermen’s association offered health insurance at that time, and it was a really good deal,” he remembers. “The savings were twice as much as the cost of my membership.”

Badge Jim Bishop
Bishop's badge of honor from the 1902 Missouri, Kansas & Oklahoma Association of Lumber Dealer Annual.

Times have changed, but Bishop’s involvement in state and national associations has not. He is the current chair of the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association, and played a central role in the recent ProDealer Industry Summit.

“The key to NLBMDA is that we don’t just report on what happens in Washington, D.C., we are part of making it happen,” he said. “We’re out in front, talking to the department of commerce, talking to the Biden Administration, talking to Congress and their staff, and making it happen.”

In recent years, Bishop personally testified on a couple of occasions, in opposition to cumbersome paperwork requirements for sustainable lumber marketing; and more recently as a witness for supply chain issues affecting the building industry.

Another regulatory victory was in opposition to the OSHA vax-or-test mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees.

“That was a huge win for us,” he said. “Of course we can’t take full credit for that, but at least we were on the right side, working with other associations.”

“We have to keep fighting for all the lumberyards, no matter how big or how small.”
Jim Bishop

Bishop, who often breaks out an old medal from the 1902 Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma Association of Lumber Dealers annual event, appreciates the history of the industry, and takes pride in helping to advance the cause of pro dealers in Washington, D.C.

Toward that end, it helps to develop connections on both sides of the aisle. He pointed to U.S. Senator Jerry Moran, a Republican who Bishop described as “very good;” and also Representative Sharice Davids, a Democrat who has “been on our side” on multiple issues.

“We have to keep fighting for all the lumberyards, no matter how big or how small,” he said. “We all have similar challenges.

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