Cook Sales, Inc. was founded in 1984 as a family owned business.
John Cook, the founder passed away in 2005 but the company remains a family owned business to this day.
For the first 5 years, Cook Sales’ main focus was related to the Railroad industry. At that time, Railroad companies were downsizing their inactive rail lines and began to abandon those tracks and sell off the related materials such as the rail, rock, and crossties.
Cook Sales, Inc. acted as a Broker between the rail companies and wholesale suppliers, selling mostly the crossties to companies such as the big box building supply centers and landscape contractors who would then retail them to the end consumer. The crossties were used in the construction of retaining walls, and landscape projects, with a large portion of those going to the southeastern part of the United States.
In the late 80’s a deal was struck with a large lumber pressure treating company in Southeastern Alabama to purchase 50,000 crossties. Through this transaction, a trade was made for pressure treated lumber with the thought of retailing the lumber at the company’s office site near Carbondale Illinois.
The sale of pressure treated lumber proved to be difficult, and with a large inventory of materials on hand that was not selling, John Cook decided to hire a carpenter to build something utilizing the stockpiled material, and that something turned out to be a portable building.
The original Cook Portable Warehouses were entirely pressure treated as a result of the materials that were on hand at the time, making Cook the first company to build portable buildings completely from pressure treated lumber. Customers enjoyed the benefit of their buildings having a lifetime warranty against decay and termite damage for as long as they owned it.
After the first building sold, John Cook was faced with another problem, how would he deliver it? With little capital to purchase a truck and trailer, a 1967 pickup truck was purchased and a local weld shop was contracted to build the trailer. An old tilt deck type boat trailer was used as the under chassis, and a flat deck floor was framed and decked with plywood. Using the trailer’s hand crank, the buildings were winched up on the tilt deck with one person cranking while another person would go to the rear of the building and use a pry bar to help move the building forward. This somewhat primitive design would later be the impetus for the trailers the company uses today that are also tilt deck, but utilize electric winches and hydraulics to allow one person to easily load and unload buildings up to 32 ft in length.
Soon another problem had to be addressed. John Cook was leasing space at an offsite storage center and suddenly realized one day that he had all of the storage he needed in the form of portable buildings. A decision was made to take his stuff from the offsite storage facility and put it into one of his buildings to save a sizable monthly lease payment.
This prompted the question of whether others might entertain the idea of leasing storage in the form of a portable building? The buildings would be located conveniently where the customer needed it, and Cook would also give each customer an option to purchase, with a portion of each payment applying to the purchase price if they elected to buy it, thus Rent To Own on portable buildings was born! Once again, Cook set the standard for what many in the industry try to copy today.
With a decrease in cross ties available from the railroad and a dramatic growth in the sale of portable buildings, Cook Portable Warehouses became the company’s sole focus.
Dealers were set up on a consignment arrangement with Cook building, financing, and delivering the product.
The company opened a larger manufacturing facility in Southern Illinois in 1987 and then opened its second plant in Valdosta GA in 1990. Subsequently other plants were opened in Bastrop, TX and Purvis, MS with plans to open a fifth in the near future.
So what originally started as an idea to get rid of some materials, turned into a multi-million dollar corporation, with over a quarter of a million units sold, to date, in parts of 13 states.
Though we have grown to become a leader in the portable building industry, we never miss an opportunity to pause and reflect on how fortunate we are. We are truly proud to be an American company that employs hard-working Americans. We also appreciate each and every one of our customers and realize the burden we have to do what is right for our friends, neighbors, and communities.
Thank you for your interest in Cook Portable Warehouses. We hope to make you a part of our family very soon.