Gordon Lumber celebrates 150 years

The pro dealer and home center chain was started in 1868 by Ohio settler Washington Gordon with a small sawmill in Oak Harbor, Ohio.

It’s a milestone year for Gordon Lumber. The Fremont, Ohio-based dealer is celebrating 150 years of helping to build communities in Ohio and Michigan.

“This milestone 150th anniversary cannot be replicated by many companies,” said 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.”

Gordon Lumber operates six home center and lumberyard locations — in Bellevue, Bowling Green, Fremont, Genoa, Huron and Port Clinton — and a component manufacturing facility in Findlay.

Started in 1868 by Ohio settler Washington Gordon, the company began with a small sawmill built 15 decades ago by Gordon in Oak Harbor, Ohio.

“The history of our company fascinates me,” said Pamela Goetsch, great-great-granddaughter of 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. 

“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 said. “And, our company has been a source of employment and support to the building industry for decades.”

Leonard relates that 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 shares that 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. Some of the dealer’s 120 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.” 

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