Founded in 1896.
Built for the Future.
The Lester Group is a diverse company that was founded by George Tilden Lester in 1896 in Martinsville. The Lester Group’s primary interests are in lumber products and real estate development in Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. Our holdings include five full service building materials stores serving the needs of professional builders, contractors, remodelers and homeowners in five major Virginia markets. The company also has a rigorous residential and commercial real estate portfolio and over 21,000 acres of timberland and a door manufacturing plant.
The Lester Group has also owned the Jim Carpenter Co. in Fredericksburg, VA since 1974. In addition to the Jim Carpenter Co., The Lester Group started Fortress Door Company in 2016 in Fredericksburg, and the company is backed by The Lester Group’s 126 years of experience within the industry.
A Values-Driven Company
- We operate with honesty, integrity and respect.
- We believe in earning a fair and reasonable profit.
- We share time, service and resources within each community we serve.
- We provide training and development to ensure the growth and success of our company.
- We offer service-driven response to our customers by exceeding expectations.
- We embrace the importance of employee ownership (ESOP) and accountability.
- Quality provided—setting the standard by which all others are measured.
- We encourage a fun and innovative workplace by recognizing and rewarding our customers and employees.
- We empower our employees to make decisions that continue to further our growth.
- We believe in Christian values guiding our decisions.
For 126 years, The Lester Group has built its legacy upon strong values, dedicated people, a passion for our community and purpose-driven work. We take pride in being rooted in Martinsville and its history, as well as building relationships with local businesses and inspiring growth. With an eye toward the future, we look forward to growing with our community for many years to come.
Jay Dickens is a strong and strategic leader with a career spent serving the building products industry. He has worked throughout the industry at large publicly traded companies, privately held companies and private equity-backed entrepreneurial enterprises. Prior to joining The Lester Group, he was Vice President of American Direct, a leading national distributor of commercial door and hardware products; Vice President and GM of ThyssenKrupp Elevator Americas; CEO of Doors In Motion, Inc,; President of the Hendricks Companies, focused in eleven locations serving the professional builder; and President of Rugby Building Products and Vice-President of Huttig Building Products. Jay has been active in the local YMCA board, a past Chair of the Martinsville Henry County Chamber of Commerce and a past Board Chair of the Boys and Girls Club of the Blue Ridge. He graduated from Millsaps College with degrees in Finance and Political Science. Jay has been active in the NLBMA and participates in the Building Materials Supply Association. He and his wife Jill have four grown children and they both enjoy hiking, fishing, golf and tennis.
Tim Parker joined Fortress Wood Products as Vice President in the fall of 2019 and possesses 35-years of experience in building material distribution. Tim has worked throughout the Southeast, from Atlanta to Washington, DC. He Started career at McEwen Lumber and worked at 6 different facilities. After 11 years at McEwen, he served in a couple of key management roles at US Lumber, before moving on to BlueLinx distribution. Born and raised in High Point, NC, he, and his wife Debi celebrated their 40th year anniversary in 2021. They have two children and one granddaughter. Their son Blair lives in Kansas City, MO along with his wife Courtney and granddaughter Olivia. Their daughter Mackenzie lives in Atlanta, GA.
Nancy Overton, as Vice President of Human Resources, is a strategic partner to the business through engaging and developing the workforce and communicating company strategies. Prior to joining The Lester Group, she held executive leadership roles at Great Southern Wood, Ply Gem and FreightCar America. She holds a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Ferrum College and has served on the boards of Habitat for Humanity, Chamber of Commerce and Free Clinic of Franklin County.
Tim Joyce is a life-long resident of the Martinsville-Henry County area. He graduated from Old Dominion University in 1984 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting. He spent 3 years with Tultex Corporation as a Senior Internal Auditor. He Joined The Lester Group in 1988 as a Staff Accountant and currently serves as Chief Financial Officer.
Barry D. Fulcher
Barry D. Fulcher was born in Martinsville and received his Bachelor’s Degree from Virginia Tech in forestry. Upon graduation, he spent 1987-1995 working as a consulting forester throughout North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, and West Virginia. He joined The Lester Group, Inc. in January 1995 as the Forestlands Manager managing approximately 19,000 acres of timberlands. While at The Lester Group, his duties have expanded to include grading operations, on site lot engineering, overseeing environmental permitting applications. He was elected to the position of Vice President of Lester Development Corporation in 2014, and Vice President of Lester Forestlands in 2019. He has been married to his wife Candy for 26 years and has two daughters.
Kevin J. Silveria
Kevin has more than 20 years in the lumber industry, which followed 10 years in the construction industry. In 2001 he got into the lumber business by taking a job as the technical rep salesperson for a truss manufacturer in Massachusetts. In 2003, that manufacturer was purchased by National Lumber Co. of Mansfield, MA. After a promotion to Technical Sales Manager, he was promoted to Director of Sales & Engineering for the component division of the company. At the end of his National Lumber tenure, he was Vice President of Sales, responsible for the Rhode Island and Connecticut markets. At the Lester Group, Kevin is the VP of the five stores in the Building Supply division, as well as having responsibility for Fortress Door Company.
David Balcerzak joined The Lester Group as the Vice President of Finance in September 2022. He graduated from The Citadel – The Military College of South Carolina with a B.S. in Business Administration. He is a licensed Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, Chartered Global Management Accountant and a Lean Six Sigma – Yellow Belt. David started his career as a cost accountant with Milliken & Company, one of the world’s largest privately held textile companies. He gained additional professional experience as an auditor with the "Big Four" public accounting firm KPMG and while holding senior level Controller roles with several private and publicly traded companies. Prior to joining The Lester Group, David served for ten years as the Finance Director for the Americas Region of Atotech Ltd., a leading global chemical and equipment manufacturer. David is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, The South Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants and Treasurer for the Charlotte Chapter of the Institute of Management Accountants. He and his wife Sheri have been married for 30 years and they have 3 children.
Andrew C. Palmer
Andrew serves as VP of Lester Properties. He is a lifelong resident of the Martinsville/Henry County area. He received his degree in business administration in 2013 and has nearly ten years’ experience in the real estate industry. Andrew started his career with The Lester Group in 2017 as commercial leasing manager for Lester Properties. He has served as VP of Lester Develpment Corporation since 2021 and was promoted to his current role as Vice-President of Lester Properties in 2023. Andrew is active in the community and is currently the President of the Martinsville/Henry County Lions Club and a board member of Martinsville/Henry County Habitat for Humanity. He is also an avid outdoorsman, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout and is involved in the Boy Scouts of America.
George W. Lester, II
George W. Lester, II is an industrial engineering Cum Laude graduate of North Carolina State University. Currently semi-retired and Co-Chairman of the Board since 2019, he had been President and CEO of The Lester Group, Inc. since 1983, and President of Lester Development Corporation since 1975. Mr. Lester is Past Chairman of the Martinsville/Henry County Chamber of Commerce, Past President of IBSA (Independent Builder’s Supply Association), the Virginia Forest Association, and VBMA (Virginia Building Materials Association), as well as Past Chairman of the United Way of Martinsville & Henry County and the Martinsville/Henry County Economic Development Corporation. He was one of the organizers of Carter Bank and is now retired from the Board of Directors. He is also Chairman of Safety/Link, Inc., an organization formed to promote the construction of I-73. Mr. Lester’s entire career has been involved in building materials for the retail consumer and professional builder, the manufacture of related forest products, management of forestlands, land conservation, real estate development and management. He is married (Lee) and has five children. He joined the Lester Group Board in 1957.
Tim Joyce is a life-long resident of the Martinsville-Henry County area. He graduated from Old Dominion University in 1984 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Administration with a concentration in accounting and he is a Certified Public Accountant. After graduating, he worked with a local CPA firm before joining Tultex Corporation which was a local textile manufacturer. He spent three years there as a Senior Internal Auditor. He joined The Lester Group in 1988 as a staff accountant and currently serves as Chief Financial Officer.
Gregory S. Brooks
Gregory S. Brooks is President and CEO of the Building Supply Channel, Inc. in New Albany, Indiana. He is editor and publisher of LBM Executive, a steering committee member at the Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies, and a 55-year veteran of the construction supply business with 18 years’ experience in the field. He is a market analyst specializing in residential building material distribution in North America. He was a founding editor of Hanley-Wood’s ProSales magazine, the leading trade publication serving the construction supply industry. He has authored or co-authored numerous industry studies, including The State of Professional Building Product Distribution (Hanley-Wood, 1999), Key Trends in the U.S. Renovation Market (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation 2005), Building Product Distribution (Principia Consulting, 2008) and Scope of the Lumber and Building Material Industry (National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association, 2011). He is moderator of the Executive Council on Construction Supply, a private think tank composed of market-leading independent building material dealers in 46 states and eight Canadian provinces, plus leading manufacturers, wholesale distributors, and technology providers. The Building Supply Channel, Inc. also operates the BSCI Learning Management System, an online platform that has provided skills training to over 15,000 building supply employees since 2002.
J. Stuart Wiswall
J. Stuart Wiswall is a licensed Professional Geologist in Virginia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania specializing in environmental, chemical management and hazardous waste issues. He has over 35 years of experience in the oil exploration and environmental industries. He is an accredited professional in the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Design (LEED) program. Stuart worked with The Lester Group for five years as the Assistant General Manager for Home Center operations. He is a 1978 graduate of Colgate University where he earned a BS degree in Geology. He currently resides near Philadelphia with his wife and has two grown daughters. He joined the Lester Group Board in 2010 and serves on the finance committee.
James A. O’Brien
James A. O’Brien was born in Michigan and received his Bachelor’s Degree from Ferris State University. He is recently retired as CEO of The Lester Group. He has been in the building materials industry since college graduation. Previous to joining The Lester Group, he was a Vice President with VNS Corporation, President and CEO of Triangle Building Supply, and held a Vice President level position with Moore’s Building Supply. In the past Jim served on his church’s Parish Council as Chairman, was on the Forest Products Committee for LBM Advantage, and served for 10 years on the Board and as an Executive Committee Member for the Southern Building Materials Association and the Building Materials Suppliers Association, including holding the position as Chairman. Jim also serves as Vice Chairman for Lester Development and is currently serving as Co-Chairman of The Lester Group. He joined The Lester Group Board in 2014.
Martha S. Cooper
Martha S. Cooper joined the Lester Group Board in 2013 and is Vice Chairman of the Board. She is a life-long resident of Martinsville, Virginia. She is a Certified Public Accountant with her accounting practice located in the “Clock Tower” building on Franklin Street in Martinsville. She graduated from the University of North Carolina in Greensboro with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Economics and Business Administration. Prior to beginning her private practice she held finance and accounting positions with Piedmont Arts Association and the Virginia Museum of Natural History Foundation. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants. Now single, she has one adult son, Charles. She is a lifelong member of Broad Street Christian Church in Martinsville and serves as Treasurer for the Church Board.
James W. Featherstone, III
James W. Featherstone was born in Minneapolis, MN but has been a resident of Virginia since 1947. He graduated from Yale University in 1960, University of Virginia Law School in 1963, and was employed by the law firm Hunton & Williams in Richmond, VA following graduation. He became a partner in this law firm in 1971, senior counsel in 2001 and retired from the firm in 2009, and is currently in practice in Richmond. He is married and has five children. He joined the Lester Group Board in 1985.
N. Dillard Jones
N. Dillard Jones started his career with Riverside Building Supply in Danville, VA in 1958 and was Vice President & General Manager before leaving in 1974. During his time at Riverside, he served in the US Army from 1960 to 1962. In 1974 he became General Manager with Moores Building Supply in Danville concentrating on sales to professional builders. Mr. Jones started with Lester Home Center (now Lester Building Supply) in 1979 as Sales Manager & General Store Manager, moving up to Vice President & General Manager of Home Center Operations in Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina in 1984 and to Executive Vice President & COO in 1991, and to President and COO in 2008. He joined the Lester Group Board in 1991.
Neil S. Kessler
Neil S. Kessler is a retired partner in the international law firm Troutman Pepper LLP (formerly Troutman Sanders LLP). Since his retirement in 2018, he has continued to represent real estate clients in his own firm, Neil S. Kessler Law Office, PLLC, and is a part time legal specialist for the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of General Services in its Division of Real Estate and Facilities Management. He formerly served as the interim chair and as a commissioner of the city of Richmond (VA) Redevelopment and Housing Authority. He has extensive experience in all areas of real estate, including the acquisition, development, financing, leasing, construction and sale of apartment projects, office buildings, shopping centers, office parks, hotels, mixed-use projects and residential developments. He has advised banks, contractors, developers and insurance companies on commercial real estate matters, including workouts and foreclosures. He is a Fellow of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers, currently serving as the chair of its Insurance Committee, and has been and continues to be a member of many other local, state and national professional, civic and charitable organizations. Neil is an undergraduate of Washington and Lee University and received his law degree from George Washington University School of Law in 1973. He lives in Richmond with his wife of 47 years and has two daughters and four granddaughters. He joined The Lester Group Board in 2018.
Philip G. Gardner
Philip G. Gardner was born in Roanoke, VA, and graduated from Martinsville High School in 1965. He then went on to VMI where he was a distinguished Military Graduate and Academic Student. From there he proceeded to Washington & Lee School of Law where he graduated cum laude. He initially worked as a law clerk to Honorable H. Emory Widener who was with the US District Court and Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. He joined the law firm of Frith, Gardner & Gardner in 1973, which evolved to Gardner, Barrow, Sharpe & Pearson, P. C. He has served two terms on the Board of Governors, VTLA, two terms on the Board of Governors/Litigation Section, and two terms on the District Ethics Committee. In 1998 Phil was elected to the American College of Trial Lawyers which recognizes the top 1 percent of trial lawyers in the country. Phil has been married to his wife Lynn for 44 years, has four sons and is a life long member of Christ Episcopal Church in Martinsville. He enjoys working on his farm, riding his Harley Davidson, fly fishing and grouse hunting. He joined the Lester Group Board in 2011.
John Korff is a distinctive business leader with a background in glass fabrication and mirror manufacturing. He joined Virginia Glass and Mirror Holding in 2009 as COO to lead the company through the post financial crisis turnaround. Focusing on rebuilding the sales team he created a philosophy of “relationships matter,” with employees, customers, and vendors. A Safety-First Culture was also adopted focusing on the health and well-being of all employees. John was promoted to President & CEO in 2011. He most recently facilitated the sale of the 110-year-old privately held Virginia Mirror and Virginia Glass Products to a Boston based Private Equity company, Gemini Investors. Previously John served as Director of Regional Operations for Hagemeyer, a leading distributor of industrial, electrical, and safety products. John provided oversight for 13 profit centers in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia with $264 million in revenue. While working with Hagemeyer (formerly Cameron & Barkley Co.) John was promoted through a series of leadership positions in Charleston SC, Savannah GA, Greenville SC and Raleigh NC. John earned his degree in Economics from Albion College in Albion, Michigan. He and his wife Lynn have been married for 37 years, have two grown sons, and reside in Martinsville. John is on the Board of Directors of the Blue Ridge Boys and Girls Club and the Harvest Foundation. He enjoys golf, exercise, travel, and being outdoors.
Sara Lester Jedelsky
Sara is a graduate of VPI. She began her real estate career in multi-family housing with Summit Management in Richmond, VA and later relocated to Charlotte, NC with ExecuStay by Marriott. In 1998 Sara joined The Bissell Companies where she was in charge of leasing the 900,000 sq. foot office portfolio in SouthPark. In addition, she also handled third party leasing for Lend Lease, Parmenter Realty Partners and Lincoln Harris. Most recently she oversaw the office leasing for Colonial Properties Trust in Charlotte.
Edward Rickenbaker “Baker” Bell
Baker Bell currently serves as President and Broker-In-Charge for Bell Commercial, Inc., a commercial brokerage group based in Raleigh, North Carolina focused on retail, medical, and land transactions. Mr. Bell acquired Bell Commercial in 2007 and has grown the business to over $100M in transaction volume in 2022. In addition, Mr. Bell is a successful real estate entrepreneur and has developed commercial real estate throughout the Carolinas, Kentucky and Pennsylvania. In 2017, he founded Rocket Wash Express Car Wash, which has rapidly grown to 17 locations throughout North Carolina, South Carolina and Kentucky. Mr. Bell graduated from Lander University in Greenwood, South Carolina with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree. In the past, he has volunteered his time serving board and councils including but not limited to the local Habitat for Humanity, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and the Triangle Chapter of Delta Waterfowl. Mr. Bell and his wife Megan are members of Midtown Community Church in Raleigh and have two children, Allen and Henry. He enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time with his boys.
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