Case Studies

D.C. Curry Lumber Company

Celebrating 162 years of independent operation and expertise

Founded in 1853, D.C. Curry Lumber Company aka Curry Lumber and Pole Building Company has been independently operated from the very beginning. The Wooster, Ohio-based business is Ohio’s second-oldest corporation. At 162 years old, it is still independently owned and operated. The business serves a range of customers, with a focal point on the agricultural sector. Curry Lumber has long been a trusted source for pole building, post and beam construction and specialty millwork and manufacturing in Ohio’s Wayne County and surrounding areas.

David Nally serves as president of Curry Lumber. He works alongside a team of approximately 65 employees of varying specialties. With a retail target market of contractors, subcontractors and general retail, the business also boasts in-house construction capabilities.

Taking history to heart

With such a long tenure in the Ohio construction market, Curry Lumber’s staff excels through experience and expertise. “We’ve served multiple generations of people,” notes Nally. “With that comes personal knowledge and the kind of combined industry experience that big-box retailers such as Lowe’s and Home Depot cannot duplicate. I’m not sure I can pin down our average tenure, but we have one salesman who started working here in 1952. At almost 80 now, he’s still a salesman and he still comes to work five days a week. I could sit four of our employees at a table and have almost 200 years’ experience in one place.”

Curry Lumber’s history goes even deeper than its long-tenured staff. The business was founded in 1853 by James Curry, who emigrated from Europe to Westmoreland, Pennsylvania before settling in Holmes County, Ohio — present day Ohio Amish country. Curry brought with him advanced millwork and manufacturing skills. As Wayne County became more industrialized, he saw an opportunity and moved the business north to Wooster.

“He set up shop in Wooster with millwork wares and founded the business as James Curry and Sons Lumber Company,” recounts Nally. “The shop survived three fires. James’ oldest son, David C. Curry, was in the printing trade before he joined the Union Army. During his second tour of duty in the Civil War, he sustained shrapnel to the abdomen and returned a war hero. He left the printing trade behind for the lumber business and the company was renamed in his honor, the D.C. Curry Lumber Company.”

Serving a distinct market

From a supply standpoint, Curry Lumber serves contractors and subcontractors. A more substantial portion of the company’s revenue comes through post-beam construction projects. The business is highly specialized in this construction method, meaning it does not typically compete against its own customers. But Curry Lumber has cornered a distinct market, providing materials and labor for the construction of durable, low-rise buildings that have proven perfect for commercial, industrial, agricultural and even recreation-sector clients throughout the region.

“Lumberyards brought post-beam construction into being in the 1950s,” notes Nally. “It has been our mainstay and staple ever since.” Curry Lumber performs approximately 70 percent of work for these projects in-house. “We sub out concrete, electrical, HVAC and some other specialty trades, but we have our own garage door sales and service department, our own mason crews and in-house blow-in insulation installers; we utilize a lot of our own labor.”

The company’s portfolio is broad, despite serving a decidedly niche market. Projects range significantly in size, from a treehouse in urban Akron, Ohio, to livestock parlors and free-stall buildings out in the farmlands. The company has built garages, industrial facilities and even recreation room additions throughout Wayne County and the surrounding areas.

As the company grows, so do its product and service lines. “We just became a dealer for Accu-Steel Hoop Buildings out of Iowa,” says Nally. “That’s a very big growth initiative for us — the biggest we’ve ever taken. We’re rolling that out currently. So far, it’s going very well. We have been in the center of the agriculture industry for some time and this has been a great opportunity to reassert ourselves in that market. New product lines are a great benchmark for our performance. When you’re competing with big-box stores, you need innovation to direct people to your own business.”

Sustaining a reputation for quality

Nally says the company’s greatest advantage in the market is its reputation. “When people have been calling on your business since 1853, that’s a good sign,” he explains. “The recession was a game of last man standing for independent lumberyards and contractors. When you turn the basket upside-down, those least connected within the industry fall out of the basket. That’s what happened, but now there is a lot of work for those remaining.”

With revenue on the rise for the companies left, there are still challenges in the industry. “At 41, I’m an exception to the rule, but there are not many young people in the industry,” Nally explains. “I think often the last generation didn’t encourage their children to participate in family businesses and that’s really coming back to have some really traumatic effects on small businesses, which have been the backbone of the country for a long time.”

The solution for now is to hold onto the talented people who work for and with Curry Lumber. “After the last downturn, we saw the need to diversify our services with the best interest of keeping our people busy,” notes Nally. “We also need to maintain relationships with our subcontractors, because many became unavailable when they couldn’t hire or reinvest during the recession. It’s an honor and privilege to be in the lives of all the people who work here and those of the customers we serve.”

With these relationships intact, D.C. Curry Lumber Company remains a strong, independent lumber yard, serving a distinct market in Ohio.

Published on: February 1, 2016



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