John S. Graves
Our success is built by combining highly competitive pricing with superior customer service!
When Better Living, Inc. founder, L.W. Graves, began operations in 1893 the
company 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 furniture
store, and the largest delivery system in Central Virginia! Chances are, if you
lived in Virginia long enough, you've seen one of our green and yellow
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, Better Living 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
and opened the furniture store in 1960. The furniture store was expanded and
moved to its current location on Route 29 North, in 1967. A new showroom,
warehouse and lumber yard were built in 1981 to meet the growing needs of
the local community. Both locations have undergone several renovations and expansions since the eighties.
In 1969, the company officially changed its' name from Charlottesville Lumber
to Better Living, Inc. to reflect the continued expansion of products and
services a decade later, John G. Nunley became the fourth generation to
participate in the family business.
John joined the company as a full-time employee in 1986, 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.
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
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
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.