About totem


Who We Are


Totem Lumber & Supply is one of two operating divisions of parent company, Industrial & Wholesale Lumber. Totem Lumber & Supply and IWL corporate offices are conveniently located between Lawrence Avenue and Irving Park Road in Schiller Park, Illinois. Totem’s fleet of delivery trucks has easy access to I-90, I-290 and I-294, making deliveries to your locations fast and efficient.


Totem's roots go back to the 1850’s when the company, then known as Reitz Lumber Company, was founded by John Augustus Reitz. Reitz, the “lumber baron” of the Midwest, built his reputation by milling more board footage than anyone in the country. In 1958, Mr. Reitz sold the company to a 28-year-old employee named John A. Kathrein. John renamed the company “Industrial & Wholesale Lumber” and created the Totem division to supply Chicago lumber and construction materials to professional builders. Until his death in 1999, John devoted his life to making Totem Lumber & Supply a world class commercial, industrial and residential lumber and construction supply company.


Today, Totem Lumber & Supply is run by Mr. Kathrein’s son, John R. Kathrein, who has worked every position in every department of the company. John’s “ground-on-up” experience has continued to sharpen the focus and functionality of Totem.


“On a daily basis, our number one goal is to become our customers’ preferred supplier of choice. Few companies have been as fortunate to have as loyal a customer base as Totem,” says Kathrein. “One big reason is that in a day and age when good old fashioned customer service is becoming extinct, Totem continues to hold steadfast to the notion.”


What you can expect from Totem Lumber & Supply:

  • Quality products and excellent service at competitive prices
  • Professional, experienced personnel who care
  • Large inventory levels so you can get what you want when you need it
  • Orders processed quickly and accurately
  • Accurate quotations and estimates from drawings or prints
  • Fast product searches
  • Detailed transaction records
  • Reliable truck deliveries

It's easy being Green!

You can count on Totem to supply you with the kinds of sustainable, renewable and environmentally friendly products and advice that your customers want. In addition, our parent company, IWL, is privileged to have received its FSC® certification by Rainforest Alliance to the Forest Stewardship Council® standards. Totem also participates in helping you earn LEED points. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council for rating and evaluating buildings nationwide.


The following materials are FSC certified materials available through Totem Lumber & Supply:

  • Fire retardant lumber and plywood
  • Untreated lumber and plywood
  • Preservative treated lumber and plywood
  • Forming plywood

You will also find many other “green” products at Totem, including: hardwood lumber, moldings, MDF panels, permeable house wraps, low and no-VOC sealants, caulks and adhesives, Energy Star-rated windows and doors, and so much more.



Our Industrial Division

Our industrial division supplies wooden shipping crates, wooden boxes, wholesale lumber, pallets, international shipping containers and hardware to more than 700 industrial manufacturing accounts.


This relationship with IWL greatly increases Totem Lumber’s capabilities by giving us ready access to non-architectural grades of lumber, including Heat Treated (HT) lumber mandated for use in the manufacture of wooden export shipping containers, skids and pallets. Many of IWL’s accounts enjoy the convenience of having construction and maintenance supplies delivered along with their scheduled monthly shipping crate orders. Visit the Industrial & Wholesale Lumber website for more information.