Centuries in the Making: S.W. Collins Co. (est. 1844)
The April issue of HBSDealer profiled a handful of lumberyards that have survived and thrived beyond the century mark. One of the keys to success across the board: They move on when opportunities present themselves.
See the April 2018 digital edition here.
What follows below is a look at S.W. Collins Co., a Maine institution since 1844.
S.W. Collins Co. (est. 1844)
S.W. Collins calls itself “The Pioneer Lumberyard” with the slogan adorning the front of each of its locations. Its pioneering spirit, along with lumber opportunities and the desire to develop Maine’s vast wilderness of timberlands, led to the development of S.W. Collins.
Now in its 174th year of business and still headquartered near its founding soil in Caribou, Maine, S.W. Collins Co. has continued a lumber tradition through five generations of the Collins family.
Along the way, it has shown a willingness to experiment, adapt and grow — a practice that continues under the current leadership.
“We feel that we’ve been successful because of the things we focus on,” said Sam Collins, president of S.W. Collins. “What we focus on is creating a culture that values our employees, values our customers and values our suppliers.”
S.W. Collins has continued to expand while remaining a corporate citizen in Caribou and Maine. It opened its fifth location in Lincoln in February 2015. A once vacant lot was replaced with a 43,000-sq.-ft. storefront, materials warehouse and storage area. Later that year, the company acquired Quigley’s Building Supply in Fort Kent. The Quigley family had operated the business since 1944 after buying it from H.W. Coffin Lumber & Building Materials.
“We are very fortunate. My brother Greg and I feel lucky that we are the fifth generation to lead this company,” said Sam Collins, when accepting the HBSDealer 2014 Independent Pro Dealer of the Year award. “We are very proud to be part of this wonderful industry.”
That history begins in 1844, when Samuel Wilson Collins, along with Washington A. Vaughn, opened his first sawmill near the Caribou Stream. The business eventually expanded into general merchandise business as well.
In the ’80s, S.W. Collins’ business tripled in volume and evolved into a home center business, serving contractors and DIYers alike. More hardware, electrical and plumbing supplies were brought in along with doors, windows and cabinets.
Other big dates in the company timeline include 1993, as operations expanded when the company opened its Presque Isle location. And in 2007, the company purchased Houlton’s Fogg’s Hardware, which was renovated and given a new showroom and drive-through yard.
Catch up on what you missed: HBSDealer’s profiles of lumberyards that have thrived for more than a 100 years offered a glimpse of the durability of this industry. Featured yards included:
- Maze Lumber (est. 1848)
- Alexander Lumber (est. 1891)
- The Requarth Co. (est. 1860)
- S.W. Collins Co. (est. 1844)
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