From the small sawmill built 15 decades ago by Gordon in Oak Harbor, the company now has seven locations employing 120 people and servicing 3,500 customers. Bellevue has been home to one of those stores since 1937, though the company moved to its current site at 1275 W Main St. in 1974.
"The history of our company fascinates me," said Pamela Goetsch, great-, great-granddaughter of Washington Gordon and a member of the Gordon Lumber board of directors. "We can accurately trace the life of this company from its founding shortly after the civil war. For the first 30 years my great-, great-grandfather had a prosperous sawmill operation and over time brought other family members, including his brother-in-law, Henry Kilmer, into the management of the company.
"A year after his death in 1903, The Gordon Lumber Company was incorporated in Ohio to support the continued growth of the business."
According to historical records, a basket manufacturing business was added to the business for several years in 1908, and then in 1916 the company went back to focusing on lumber.
During the next several decades the company added a variety of lumberyards and stores. A components (truss) division was added in 1961 and in 2013 the company began transacting business in Michigan. The company has weathered the Great Depression, two world wars and the 2008 housing crisis and continues to serve communities in Northwest Ohio and Southern Michigan.
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.
"This milestone 150th anniversary cannot be replicated by many companies," says Erin Leonard, president of Gordon Lumber. "Our roots trace back to a time when a single man decided to open a sawmill. From that first step to now, Gordon Lumber has evolved as a standout Ohio business.
"We not only have grown Washington Gordon's original vision by opening home centers and a component plant, we're contributing to the different communities where we have operations,” Leonard added. “And, our company has been a source of employment and support to the building industry for decades."
Today's Gordon Lumber focuses on seven reasons why people should bring their business to their stores: dedicated customer focus, local expertise, real-world experience, hometown pride, rental centers, helpful advice and support, and the longevity of its employees, Leonard said.
The average Gordon Lumber employee has been on the job for 13 years, and half of the employees have been with the company for 20-plus years, Leonard added. Some employees have been with Gordon Lumber for 30 or more years.
"We've embraced the same principles that Washington Gordon and the original family members did when starting this company," Leonard said. "These are our core values. They're what sets us apart in the marketplace and will help us grow into our next 150 years."
For information on Gordon Lumber, visit www.gordonlumber.com.
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Gordon Lumber: Milestone Anniversaries
1868 - Washington Gordon opens a sawmill in Oak Harbor, supplying lumber to a variety of railroad companies and businesses.
1903 - The business incorporated in Ohio and was renamed The Gordon Lumber Company.
1907 - The company was renamed Gordon Lumber, Basket & Manufacturing Company when a basket manufacturing business was added to the original lumber business.
1916 - The basket end of business was sold. The company goes back to its former name, The Gordon Lumber Company. In the same year the company purchases Buckeye Lumber & Supply Company, with a location in Fremont.
1929 - The Gordon Lumber Company purchased The East Clinton Lumber & Coal Company, which became the Lakeside location.
1937 - A location was started in Bellevue.
1944 - Fire strikes the Fremont yard, causing a complete loss of all physical property. A new location is immediately found and business starts up again.
1951 - Bowling Green location was started.
1960 - Gordon Lumber purchases Advance Lumber & Supply, Inc. and the Fremont yard moved to a new location.
1961 – The Truss and Panel Division was formed in Oak Harbor.
1966 - The Genoa operation launches after being purchased from the Powers Lumber Co.
1969 - The Fremont yard again suffers from a massive fire. A decision was made to rebuild the store.
1970 - A newer, larger facility was obtained for Bowling Green.
1974 - The Bellevue location expands to a different location in the city.
1979 - V.A. Fries Lumber Co. was purchased by Gordon Lumber, giving them a branch in Huron.
1984 - The Lakeside branch moves to a new facility in Port Clinton.
1998 - The Genoa location changes for more space within the city.
2001 - Fremont operations change to a new location within the city.
2001 – The company’s corporate office moved from Oak Harbor to Fremont.
2002 -The Findlay yard commenced business and operated as a yard until 2009, when it was changed over to a Clearance Center. In 2014 the facility was retooled and became the company’s components manufacturing facility.
2013 - The company began transacting business in Michigan in collaboration with Gordon Components MI LLC, a wall panel and truss company owned by Dave McGee and located in Romulus, Michigan. In 2017 this collaboration was legally formalized.
2017 - The name of the company was changed to Gordon Lumber Holdings Company to reflect the legal restructure of the company and the creation of four new subsidiary limited liability companies, Gordon Lumber Company, LLC, Gordon Components Company, LLC, Gordon Contract Sales Company, LLC and Gordon Land Holding Company, LLC.
2017 - The company expanded its business into installed and contract sales through Gordon Contract Sales Company, LLC.
2018 - 150th anniversary of Gordon Lumber Company with new company logo introduced, plus separate logos for Gordon Components, Gordon Contract Sales and Gordon Lumber Holdings Company.