Case Studies

Ganahl Lumber Company

California's Oldest Lumberyard
  • Written by: Ganahl Lumber Company
  • Produced by: Ganahl Lumber Company
  • Estimated reading time: 3 mins

Ganahl Lumber Company (GLC) has been supplying builders, carpenters and contractors in California with quality, durable wood products since 1884. Christian Ganahl founded the company with his brother, Frank, after the Austrian immigrants moved to Los Angeles from Missouri. A growing economy based in agriculture had spurred a population and housing boom, allowing GLC to take off. Christian set up several branch locations, a practice that was almost unheard of at the time, to better supply his customers with lumber and cement.

As time went on family members continued to join the team and ultimately opened additional locations. While many industries flat-lined during the Great Depression, GLC survived, and with minimal downsizing. The movie business was alive and well in Hollywood throughout the difficult years, and well-known actors, directors and producers continued to build houses, keeping demand for the company’s products and service alive.

The family business was passed down through the generations, weathering wars, economic slumps and breaks in the supply chain. GLC is currently owned and operated by Peter Ganahl, Christian’s great-great-nephew, who has been president of the company since 1973. Pete Meichtry, vice president of purchasing, merchandising and advertising at GLC, says the business has grown to include 10 yards, three mills and 550 employees in the Orange County area.

Regional Supplier

GLC is a full-service lumber company, therefore each store carries lumber products from framing and structural lumber to finished products. Of the company’s three mills, Meichtry says, “One performs custom production of stairways, bar tops, cabinet doors. We can make anything.”

The company works predominantly with regional builders and contractors, a quality that helped GLC stay afloat during the recent recession. “Our business was off 40 percent from the building peak,” explains Meichtry. “Most of our competitors were down 70 percent.” Keeping business local has allowed GLC to focus on serving the region better than national suppliers. Additionally, the company’s revenue relies less on construction trends in other parts of the country.

Running with the Big Dogs

The company’s sales staff is extremely knowledgeable and has built a good rapport with local contractors and business owners. This level of personalized service is not provided by the big-box competition, although GLC offers many of the same quality products available at national chains, as well as one-of-a-kind custom finished products. The company carries major brands, such as Andersen Windows & Doors, Trex Decking, DeWalt power tools, as well as many others.

GLC offers personalized service and the sales staff works alongside clients throughout the purchasing process to fit design needs as well as budgets. Inventory is competitively priced and GLC is partnered with many national brands, guaranteeing that even if it’s not in stock, the sales staff can order the product that best fits a project.

Meichtry insists his employees are the heart and soul of GLC. In return, the Ganahl family strives to treat each staff member well and provide opportunities for growth. In order to achieve a controlled balance the business is partially owned by the family, and partially owned by employees. GLC implemented an employee stock ownership program in 1976, offering its staff investment opportunities as well as a say in how the business is run. Many of these employees have been important contributors at GLC for over three decades.

The construction slump in the U.S. has taken a toll on many businesses that supply contractors and developers, but GLC has proven itself able to withstand market challenges through diversity and dedication. “Things are definitely getting better,” says Meichtry. “Sales are up again.” With an increase in growth, the company may be looking to expand. “In the next few years, we may open more stores,” he suggests, although nothing is set in stone.

GLC opened its newest location in Pasadena in 2012, and Meichtry says, “Our focus [for now] is keeping ourselves on the cutting edge.” The company is constantly adding innovative, high-tech and sustainable products to its inventory. GLC’s customers depend on the business to supply the latest in building supplies and equipment, and the company delivers. The business has been recognized several times by local organizations and agencies as well as national suppliers for a strong commitment to its customers. Ganahl Lumber Company has spent the last century building the region’s best one-stop shop for building, set up for success through future generations.

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Spring 2018



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