Employees at Collum's Lumber

Kimberli Scott-Still (left) talks with employees of her family's business, Collum's Lumber, in Allendale, including (from left to right) Tommie Hutto Jr. (3 years employed), Gustavo Perez (11 years employed), Khafji Young (4 years employed), Bubba Benton (20 years employed), and Gregg Hutto (30 years employed). 

Kimberli Scott.jpg

Kimberli Scott-Still,

Collum's Lumber

After years of living in another state, Kimberli Scott-Still came back to Allendale. She took her place as part of the fourth generation in the family business, Collum’s Lumber Products, and became involved in leadership roles in Allendale County.

After graduation from Barnwell High School in 1999 and USC Columbia, Scott moved to Tampa, Florida where she worked several years for HomeWorks, a custom builder, as project manager and designer.

Why did this successful and attractive woman leave sunny Florida and return to Allendale?

“Ultimately, how many people would have that opportunity? I felt if I didn’t try it, I would have regrets. There, of course, is always a sense of family responsibility. I chose to be part of the company I owned versus a non-active shareholder. However, it was an extremely difficult decision to leave Tampa and return to the rural area of S.C. I am continuing a legacy of producing superior products from reusable resources that are American made," she said.

Collum’s Lumber employees hundreds of men and women in the tri-county area, offering high-paying jobs.

“This is what my family has accomplished generation after generation. I wanted to be part of that history,” Scott-Still related.

Before returning to Allendale, Scott-Still earned a B.S. in Finance and a minor in Accounting from the University of Tampa. It's a degree that would help her in the manufacturing business.

Scott became the Human Relations Manager at Collum's in 2012.

Maintenance workers, production line crews, rolling stock operators, loggers, and truckers are tough jobs performed by tough men and women. Some have questionable pasts, sometimes even requiring the employee to wear an ankle monitor.

How does she deal with hiring and firing these men?

"I believe if you give respect, you get respect. I feel there is a sense of honesty between myself and the people I employ. If our judicial system says you’re a free person – then as far as I’m concerned you should be able to apply for a job like anyone else. I’ll give you an opportunity, it is up to you what you do with it. Nine times out of ten those are the people that stick and get it right. They have learned from previous mistakes and want to make a different life for themselves, given the chance," she said.

Collum's Lumber also employs countless local people with no former problematic background, all of which are hardworking and staunch individuals.

"The majority of our managerial team are locals who worked their way up the ranks into supervisory positions and are in decision making roles that help grow our business,” she said.

Scott-Still is a member of several state and local boards and committees whose objective is to elevate and educate. If there is a speaking opportunity or job fair, she enjoys participating as long as her schedule allows. She is a member of the advisory committee for the U.S. 2020 STEM Collation grant, plays a role in orchestration Original Six Foundation's Practice Makes Perfect Homework Center, and volunteers for DIG's STEM program. She has even gone into classrooms doing hands-on activities and education about manufacturing careers. All these activities are designed to educate and elevate students in Allendale County.

“Being an industry that hires locals, I encounter too many hires that dropped out of school at an early age, as adults cannot read, or possess fundamental skills, may have been in/out of jail and plenty who have spent their fair time in prison. All of these stories have a common denominator - no mentor or role model, absentee parents, no exposure to anything different; they don’t know the opportunities available much less how to achieve them,” Scott-Still said.

How do we break the cycle, so that the story line changes?

“I was fortunate to grow up with numerous role models and, even as an adult, I still add to my list of mentors," she said.

One of her mentors is Allendale County Superintendent Dr. Margaret Gilmore.

"Her actions inspire others to learn more, dream more, and become and do more. Testing scores, graduation rates, success stories are a true truth teller. Her level of impact has not only made a difference in an individual’s life, but also in developing a better future for our community," said Scott-Still.

Though she isn't looking to make excuses for anyone, Scott-Still said it's hard to expect different results given the climate and culture that many locals grow up in.

“Children are products of their environment and until we change the mindset, the culture and ultimately the environment – the cycle with continue," said Scott-Still.

Why does she do what she does?

"It’s about creating opportunity, creating experiences, opening the door for resources – so that the circle of drugs and absentee role models isn’t the only outlet and exposure people have. I believe, given the opportunity to 'Be More', we’ll see a new generation 'Do More,'" she said.

It's a tough job, but Kimberli Scott-Still is a tough woman.