Star Building Supply is a well-established business in the Kokomo community, but it has an interesting history that residents may not know. Although it’s been located at 1501 North Market Street since 1947, it once had a different name, and what it sold wasn’t construction materials. Its longevity over good times and bad is due to the ability to change with the times and fulfill the wishes of customers.
The business began more than 73 years ago as the Star Coal company. Original owner Westy Bassett had the foresight to begin selling building supplies such as brick and block when the practice of heating homes by burning coal declined. During the 1970s, Bassett convinced his son-in-law, Bill Lambert, to leave California and help him with the business. By the late 70s, Lambert became the second owner of the business.
“Bill Lambert became a good family friend and was a mentor to me,” says current owner Rob Armstrong. “In 2006, he informed me that I needed to buy his business. I started working at Star Building Supply on January 1 and by March 15, 2007, I was the owner. It was a wonderful opportunity and I am so grateful for it.
“When I purchased the business, it was 100% brick, block, concrete and some tools,” he adds. “I knew we needed to diversify. Our product line grew by adding siding, windows, doors, cabinets and lumber. Today we have a full-time kitchen designer and carry engineered lumber and specialized building supplies such as steel beams. Additional buildings have been added.”
By 2010, Star Building Supply was developing relationships with contractors as well as individual consumers. Advances in products allow builders to construct large open spaces by using steel-made structural supports. Likewise, if a client wants a wall full of windows, their products can enable that look to be achieved.
“I thought the COVID shut down would really slow things down but instead we have been even busier,” Armstrong says. “New construction is continuing as people seem to want to get out of the city. Or, they are reinvesting in their nest. Plenty of brand-new decks were built during the nice weather and now people are finding the need to have a new kitchen or bath.”
As the owner of a long-time Kokomo business, Armstrong has been able to forge strong ties within the community. He is a big believer in giving back and thrives on having a full plate. He currently sits on the board of the Salvation Army but is involved in and has held board positions in multiple organizations such as the local Home Builders Association and St. Vincent Hospital Board.
“We love bringing our customers’ dreams to reality,” he says. “Building supplies are always changing and trending. The colors and textures of our exterior products enable people to increase the curb appeal of their homes. Popular interior colors and materials have changed a lot over the years. The relationships made while serving the people of the community make for a good life.”
Star Building Supply is located at 1501 N. Market Street in Kokomo. For more information, give them a call at 765-459-4129 or visit them online at starbuildingsupply.com.