Shortly past the dawn of the last century, Fred Graves, who ran a lumberyard in Wisconsin, got the urge to move to Jonesville, Mi., to help a cousin in the yard he owned. By 1919, Fred had bought him out.
But Rob never bailed. For one thing, he’s too young to retire. For another, the lumber business is all he’s ever known. And loved.
When his dad, owner of Builders Do it Centers of New Mexico, knew it was time to retire last year, Justin Ellis was handed a lemon: With no cash to match the outside offer his father couldn’t refuse, he could suck it up and go to work for the new owner, adding more of the same-old, same-old to the years he’d already tallied at the shop, or he could... um, what?
Kellogg Supply, of Manteo, sited on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, is a family-owned operation serving customers since 1946.
Russell Lands Inc. is a land development outfit in Alabama, which owns six home centers and three building supply locations across the state.
This isn’t going to be one of those “beloved, third-generation hometown yard builds on its legacy” stories. Nope. McCabe Lumber, of Lovelace, Oh.—20 miles from the Cincinnati metro area and serving Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana as well—didn’t even exist in the 20th century. Today, it’s a blockbuster, both in market share and innovation.
In May 1951, young Robert Arnold, fresh from college, snagged his first job, working for his stepmom’s boss. That job was selling feed in upstate New York in a small town called Malone. But that didn’t last long. The older gent was in a hurry to retire. He approached the Arnolds. Young Bob voted “no.” His dad, however, voted “yes”—and “yes” prevailed. Ironically, Dad passed away two years later, leaving Bob to run the show.