FREMONT, OHIO - 04/24/2018 — To mark the 150th anniversary of Gordon Lumber, three of founder Washington Gordon’s great-great-granddaughters are sharing memories while also looking ahead to the future of the Ohio-based lumberyard. Spread across the country in Maine, Florida and Ohio, the sisters are united by their family history and a desire for the company to continue its growth.
Residing in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, Pamela Goetsch currently serves as the Chairman of the Board for Gordon Lumber. She also holds the position of Director and is a shareholder in the company. As far back as she can remember she attended company board meetings with her parents.
“Back when my dad was President of the company in the 1970’s I unofficially advised and supported him,” says Goetsch. “I remember family members always talking about the business philosophy: focus on the community, customer service, fairness, integrity and excellence. These were all values that were embraced as much in the decades past as they are today.
“Innovation was important to our success. Back in 1868 my great-great-grandfather started this company with a sawmill located in the Village of Oak Harbor. A basket-making company was added to the business in 1907, and then was spun off from the business nine years later.
“After that Gordon Lumber acquired and sold lumberyards, established a concrete division (which was also later sold), operated a design showroom, entered into the components business and most recently added installed sales to its product offerings. Those types of innovations and changes allowed us to grow and evolve into the business we are today.”
The most actively-involved family descendent in the company, Goetsch and her sisters are the daughters of Gloria Gordon Bauman, a direct descendent of Washington Gordon and the second largest shareholder of Gordon Lumber stocks. For her part in the growth of the company, Goetsch helped guide Gordon Lumber during the 2008 recession and through corporate leadership changes in recent years. Leaning on her talents, she has focused on financing, legal matters, management and training issues with the company over the years.
“I’ve worked through the purchasing and closing of yards, moving the components facility and assisting to turn around the business,” says Goetsch. “I’m proud to have worked with my fellow directors and management team members to effect a generational shift in the business.
“We’ve quite literally rebuilt the business into a modern and lean corporate enterprise. Foremost on my mind has always been a strong sense of stewardship and responsibility to keep Gordon afloat so it could continue supporting our employees and the communities in which we do business.”
Looking Toward the Future
Today’s Gordon Lumber surpasses any dreams that Washington Gordon may have had for his fledgling company. There are currently seven locations employing 120 people and servicing 3,500 customers.
“It’s no small feat to stay in business for 150 years,” says Jennie Gwilym, another great-great-granddaughter of Washington Gordon and a Board of Directors member at the Gordon Lumber. “This company has made a large and lasting mark on people in Ohio and Michigan.
“As we look to the future, I see us leveraging our expertise by acquiring additional lumberyards in small communities throughout Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. I can also see us needing more component facilities since that business continues to explode.”
Gwilym relates that the ongoing lack of skilled labor in the building industry will push forward the growth of the component sector and installed sales. As for the future of the company, she believes in taking progressive steps as much as her great-great grandfather did.
“It would be exciting to create a supply chain in the future that is so efficient that lumber and building materials move from our vendors directly to the construction site in less than 30 days,” says Gwilym. “We could create a lumberyard with virtually no inventory on the books.
“I believe the founders of the company would like that progressive idea. If they were here today I think they would advise us to continue to grow and adapt to the ever-changing building industry while keeping our focus on our customers and their needs.”
Priority One: Excellent Customer Service
Residing in Florida, sister Betsy Snow is not actively involved in the company at this point, but she retains her position as a shareholder and is keenly interested in the progress of Gordon Lumber.
“Pamela and Jennie keep me updated on key issues,” says Snow. “While growing up, I remember my father and grandfather telling stories of the company and about their roles on the Board of Directors. I believe these men would be surprised by how the company has grown and matured. If they were here today, they would tell us to continue to provide excellent customer service at a fair price.”
While Snow shares that big box stores and the consolidation of smaller lumber yards are challenging situations that may have to be dealt with in the future, she offers that Gordon Lumber has the strength to survive.
“This company will survive if it maintains close ties to the communities it serves,” says Snow. “Builders and remodelers return again and again to Gordon Lumber because of the customer service and a sense of community. If we stay focused on those values our company will continue to grow.”
Tomorrow’s Gordon Lumber
Moving into the future, as Chairman of the Board Goetsch has advice for future generations. “I would advise those who come after us to embrace change, both the uncertainties and possibilities it offers,” says Goetsch. “You have to remain resilient and meet challenges head on. This advice mirrors that which I have received over the years and I believe is timeless.”
Who will lead Gordon Lumber in the future? If there’s a fourth generation involved, it will come down to Gwilym’s two children --- the only two direct descendants of Washington Gordon. While neither her son nor daughter is currently involved in the company, they’re both interested in its ongoing performance.
“Life takes different twists and turns,” says Gwilym. “I wasn’t that involved in the company until recent years. It’s possible that same path will happen for my children.”
Together, all three sisters share a sense of pride in being connected with a company that has its roots going back 15 decades.
“I’m so proud to be not just a part of the legacy of Gordon Lumber, but also part of its future,” says Goetsch. “Hopefully the next generation will be able to share the same sense of pride in supporting a business that cherishes its history while also continuing to reinvent itself year after year.”
Celebrating 150 Years of Building Communities
Today Gordon Lumber operates six home center/lumberyards and a components manufacturing facility in Ohio. Locations include Bellevue, Bowling Green, Findlay, Fremont, Genoa, Huron and Port Clinton. The corporate offices are in Fremont.
Gordon Lumber also markets components in Michigan in collaboration with Gordon Components MI, a components manufacturer, owned by David McGee. As Gordon Lumber enters its next 150 years, it will continue to provide integrated building solutions to the communities it serves as it has done since 1868.
For information on Gordon Lumber, visit www.gordonlumber.com.
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