Gordon Lumber to Close Retail, Focus on Component Manufacturing

Originally published by: The BladeJune 5, 2020

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Gordon Lumber Co. announced Friday that it would be closing several of its retail locations in a strategic move to enhance its contractor building services.

Gordon leadership made the move after it saw sustained growth in its components manufacturing and installed sales businesses. The 152-year-old company is currently headquartered in Fremont, but was originally founded in Oak Harbor, Ohio, by Washington Gordon.

Gordon Lumber Company storefront

Currently the company consists of four Ohio retail locations, one each in Fremont, Huron, Port Clinton, and Genoa, a components manufacturing subsidiary, and an installed sales business. All of that will change as a result of the moves announced on Friday.

The Fremont and Huron stores will be closed immediately, while all extra inventory will be moved to the Port Clinton location. That store will operate as a liquidation center before its planned closure on Oct. 31. The Fremont corporate office will also close by the end of the year.

All employees, including those from the corporate office, will be based at the store location in Genoa, which will add employees. 

"After careful consideration of changes in marketplace trends and practices, the Board of Directors and management team for Gordon have decided to focus our company’s attention solely on supporting the needs of construction industry representatives, such as builders, contractors and remodelers,” Erin Leonard, president of the company, said in the press release. “We make this change from a position of industry strength and following years of increasing professional sales and services."

According to Mr. Leonard, the company has seen a large growth in its contractor services. Those services include design estimating, components, installation, and centralized product offerings. Another growing aspect of the business is the installed sales operation.

"Our customers have an increased demand for skilled trade labor,” Pamela Goetsch, a descendant of the company founder and a member of the Gordon Board of Directors, said. “We can meet that demand by providing top quality labor to install the products we offer. This is just another way we are dedicated to helping building industry professionals grow their businesses.”

The moves will result in layoffs of about 15 employees by the end of the year, said company spokesman Kathy Ziprik. Gordon also expects that any expenses incurred as a part of the moves will be quickly offset by new efficiencies in its operation. The company did not provide any specific numbers to The Blade.

Company leadership made the changes after studying market trends and identifying areas for growth within the business. They decided the best way to run the business was to specifically target contractors and builders.

According to Ms. Ziprik, Gordon believes that the building industry will continue to grow even as individual shoppers move towards purchasing home improvement products at chain retailers, like Home Depot, or online.

Two years ago, when the company celebrated its sesquicentennial, Mr. Leonard said it employed 122 people and was worth about $40 million dollars. The moves were not a result of the coronavirus pandemic or the related economic downturn.