After graduating from Martin High School in 1949, Ike Epstein adventured to Austin to attend the University of Texas. In 1953, he finished with a degree in business and a new wife, Doris, a native of Brookhaven, Mississippi and a 2-year commission to the US Army.
After serving in the US Army in Okinawa, Ike returned to Laredo to work in his father’s lumber yard. However, he had a dream of opening a one stop shop for all home building supplies. And so, Ike opened his own business, Economy Lumber, with a modest inventory on San Augustine and Jackson Street in Laredo, Texas.
As a remodeler, Ike called himself, “The House Doctor”, with the tagline “Let the Doctor fix what ails your house.” As Ike built his remodeling business, he grew to be known as “Dr. Ike.” In the 1960s, Ike Epstein began to sell his extra supplies to other remodelers and builders in the area, and soon the Economy Lumber logo was a generic figure wearing doctor scrubs with a stethoscope and a doctor’s bag that held tools.
In 1973, the name of the company was changed to Dr. Ike’s Economy Center, and later evolved to Dr. Ike’s Home Centers. The first location; which is still the main store today, is located at the corner of Chicago and San Eduardo. In 1984, a second location was opened in Zapata, Texas and a third store in South Laredo in 1990.
Today, the third generation works in the family business, Clay and his wife, Carolyn, have been working for the past two decades helping Ike. Carolyn, serves as company CFO and Clay as Vice President. Dr. Ike’s employees over 145 employees with 70% full time workers. From the beginning the Epstein family has a created a family like atmosphere for both the employees and customers. It is with this attitude that Dr. Ike’s continues to have many employees for over 30 years and that many, many customers are multigenerational.