Volume 46, Issue 7 - September 2007


Millwork Industry Veteran Passes Away

John “Jack” Joseph McIlwee, 79, of Wilmette, Ill., and founder of the J.J. McIlwee Co., died Monday, July 16, following a valiant battle with congestive heart failure. 

After building several businesses for others, Jack was encouraged by local leaders to start the J.J. McIlwee Co. (now known as McIlwee Millwork) in June of 1963, which supplied residential millwork. McIlwee Millwork continues operations today under the guidance of his three sons, Tom, Brian and Peter.

Jack was always an industry advocate and leader, serving on several industry association boards and chairing numerous committees throughout his 44 year association with the National Sash and Door Jobbers Association (now known as the Association of Millwork Distributors). 

Along with his wife Helen, he is survived by his children: Thomas and his wife, Catherine, of Wilmette, Ill.; Brian and his wife, Shannon, of Darien, Ill.; James and his wife, Mary, of Arlington Heights, Ill.; Peter and his wife, Tricia, of Darien, Ill.; and Margaret and her husband, Timothy, of Evanston, Ill., as well as fifteen grandchildren: Kelly, John, Colleen, Elizabeth, Devin, Ryan, Caitlin, Bridget, Kathleen, Patrick, Sean, Kevin, Jack, Finnian and Maeve. He also is survived by his brothers Patrick McIlwee of Phoenix, Daniel McIlwee of Mt. Prospect, Ill., and Gerald McIlwee of West Palm Beach, Fla.

Snap Shot
Holston’s New General Manager Shares His Vision

Holston Builders Supply named Jim Barbarito as its new general manager (GM), effective August 1, 2007. 

Barbarito comes to Holston with more than 30 years of sales and marketing experience at Eastman Chemical Co.Barbarito says his experience at Eastman has prepared him well for the GM position at Holston. Holston is a company with an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) located in Kingsport, Tenn.

“It gave me the opportunity to be involved in leading some good-sized organizations and gave me a lot of experience working in a team environment,” Barbarito says. “That’s really helped me come here as a ‘new person on the block’ and talk about team work to earn and keep customers.”

Barbarito left Eastman about four years ago, and since then has been consulting for a number of different companies, including a software company and a builder/developer.

“My recent history got me involved in the construction/building industries, and that gave me some understanding of the industry before I came to Holston,” he says.

Barbarito says he wants to continue to build on Holston’s long history of providing quality products and service to customers. 

“Our product mix is changing a little bit as things change in the marketplace, and it’s going to continue to change, as we see it … We are going to continue to look at what developers, builders and architects are looking for and make sure we have the right product lines so we can do a better job for our dealers,” Barbarito says.

He says he hasn’t worked for an ESOP before, but Eastman had a similar way of giving back to employees.

ESOP actually takes that one step further, Barbarito says. 

“The employees, as owners, really look at contributing to their own futures, as the company succeeds, so they aren’t just punching the time clock,” he adds.

And succeeding in a down market doesn’t seem to be a problem for Holston, according to Barbarito.

“We’ve been really fortunate because our location is quite unique in terms of how healthy our markets have been, and they’ve remained pretty healthy (This area of East Tennessee, Western North Carolina, Southeast Kentucky and Southwest Virginia),” Barbarito says. “The baby boomers have found this area of the country, and they like it. It’s a low tax structure, and a lot of people talk about where the mountains are the second coast, so the construction trade in our area has stayed pretty healthy.”

“In terms of Holston, we are going to continue to leverage our distribution expertise and knowledge about the marketplace because that’s the best way to succeed,” Barbarito says. “We have to understand what the market wants and continue to excel at serving our dealers.”

Barbarito replaced Tom Kern, who recently retired. Kern worked at the company for 41 years. 

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