By ERIC FREEMAN
• Columbus Telegram
COLUMBUS, Neb. — Mead Lumber Co. Inc., founded in 1910 by Morton B. Mead in Ashland, is celebrating its 100 year anniversary.
Mead Lumber has served the Columbus area since its expansion into the community in 1934.
“I think Mead Lumber’s growth over the past 90 years is based on providing quality service and products to each of our store’s communities,” said retired president Bob Mead. “Today, our experienced people and competitive pricing continue to provide a strong foundation for growth.”
The company’s regional accounting office is located at 2218 11th St., and the local lumber yard at 1158 26th Ave.
Mead, 74, is the third generation of the Mead family that founded the company 100 years ago. Mead served as president of the company from 1987 until his retirement in 2006.
Mead’s entrance to the family business in 1964 was in Cheyenne, Wyo., where he started the company’s pre-hung door and roof truss shop, but he recalls working in the family business during his teen years.
“I was about 14 when I worked picking up and restacking piles of lath that had fallen,” Mead said. “I started driving the company delivery truck when I was 16.
“The main thing that helped us survive the years is that we changed as the markets changed. When we saw a need in the markets we moved in those directions, and here we are 100 years later.”
Morton Mead got his start in the lumber business following his diagnosis of lead poisoning in 1910. He contracted the affliction as a result of setting the lead type for the newspaper.
Mead Lumber was founded with the purchase of the Pankhurst Lumber Co. in Ashland in 1910. The elder Mead’s partner Don Sullivan sold his interest in the company to Mead a few years later.
Bob Mead’s father Lyman Mead joined the company in 1925 and served as the president of the company from 1927 until his retirement in 1987. Lyman’s brothers Emerson and Wilbur each served the company as vice president and secretary respectively until Emerson’s death in 1989 and Wilbur’s death in 1990
Mead Lumber remains a family business to this day with fourth generation Kate Mead’s return to the business as credit manager at the company’s Kansas City location.
Current President Craig Bradshaw was hired in 2006 to fill the position vacated by Bob Mead upon his retirement.
In the early years, Morton Mead allowed customers, mostly farmers and ranchers, to purchase on credit and pay off the account once a year, usually following the harvest. When the customer paid, they could enjoy Morton’s bonus, which came in the form of a high class cigar.
During the depression Mead Lumber allowed farmers to pay with corn. The company stored the corn and sold it after then President Roosevelt put a floor of 75 cents per bushel under the price of corn.
The money from the sale of this grain made it possible for the company to expand into Columbus in 1934.
Through the years, Mead Lumber Co. improved and expanded it’s holdings and outlets across a seven state region.
In 2000, Mead Lumber bought Knect Home Centers and Newkirk Ace Hardware stores in Rapid City and Spearfish, S.D., and Gillette, Wyo. As a part of the purchase agreement Mead Lumber formed an employee-owned stock plan (ESOP).
Today, Mead Lumber has 580 employees in 25 retail locations across a seven state region.
“Our markets tend to be heavily weighted with contractor business in the larger cities and locations and with retail business in the smaller venues,” Bob Mead said.
Mead Lumber offers a wide range of services in its various locations including free estimates of materials needed for a variety of projects, drafting and delivery services.
For more information about the products and services offered by Mead Lumber, call (402) 564-5225 or visit the company Web site online at www.meadlumber.com.
Mead Lumber is also celebrating its 26th year in Liberal
Liberal’s Mead Lumber is celebrating the company’s 100th anniversary on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
On Wednesday, there will be free coffee and cake from 8 to 11 a.m. From 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., there will be free hot dogs. Also on Wednesday, Mead is offering a free 5-gallon bucket to the first 50 people plus 25 percent off any items people can fit into the bucket, except for power tools.
Free coffee and donuts will be available on both Thursday and Friday, as well as a free Mead Lumber ball cap on Friday.
There will also be give-aways all day long during each day.
The Liberal branch opened in 1984, and Liberal’s employees have at least a combined service of 96 years with Mead Lumber.
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