John S. Graves
|In 1893, Better Living, Inc. founder, L.W. Graves, began operations of the company and it was simply called Charlottesville Lumber. Back then we had one goal and one product (lumber) which was delivered by horse and buggy. Today, the family business has grown to three locations, including a custom mill shop, and the largest delivery system in Central Virginia! Chances are, if you lived in Virginia long enough, you’ve seen one of our yellow and green delivery trucks. In its early days, Charlottesville Lumber was located on Avon Street. By the mid-twenties, John S. Graves joined his father to help with the company’s natural expansion into the construction business. As general contractors, Charlottesville Lumber has built many buildings, schools, churches, and homes in the area including the McGuffey School, City Library, U.S. Post Office, Barringer Wing of the original University Hospital, and Peabody Hall at the University of Virginia. Charlottesville Lumber also developed residential subdivisions including Camelot, Foxbrook, Greenlea, Orchard Acres, and Ruckersville Heights.
During the second World War, the company produced portable barracks and large shipping crates to support the war effort. Meanwhile, its future President Richard L. Nunley was serving in the 13th Air Force in the Philippines. He would later serve again as a First Lieutenant in Korea.
In 1957, Richard Nunley left his law career to join his father-in-law’s business. As the story goes…in 1958, Richard “Dick” Nunley demonstrated proudly an expensive and unauthorized purchase that he made to improve efficiency in the lumber yard. His father-in-law (to whom he had given the bill) viewed the occasion with a serious face and extreme skepticism. The purchase was a FORKLIFT!
In 1960 a furniture store was opened. In 2016 after 56 years the furniture store was closed to allow the company to focus on what it did best, building materials, stairs, interior doors, custom millwork, and kitchen cabinets.
In 1969, the company officially changed its’ name from Charlottesville Lumber to Better Living, Inc. to reflect the continued expansion of products and services.
In 1981 a new showroom, warehouse and lumber yard were built to meet the growing needs of the local community. This location has undergone several renovations and expansions since the eighties.
In 1986 John G. Nunley became the fourth generation to participate in the family business. John joined the company as a full-time employee after completing his MBA from Vanderbilt University. John became President of Better Living, Inc. in 1997, and remains in that position today. His father, Richard L. Nunley, is Chairman of the Board.
In 2007 an additional lumberyard was constructed near Zions Crossroads in Troy, Virginia to help better serve our customers in Central Virginia. In 2010 our Custom Mill Shop moved to a new LEED certified facility in Troy.
There have been many changes since our humble beginnings in 1893. Better Living has grown from 3 employees and horse-drawn delivery system to 110 employees with state-of-the-art computers, delivery, and manufacturing equipment.
Time and technology have moved on taking with it generations of dedication, passion and enthusiasm. These are the qualities that have built our business and continue to make it grow.
We have changed our name but never our commitment to our customers and to our community.