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Sanford & Hawley: A Family Tradition

Rarely a day goes by, especially when I’m on the road doing lumberyard events, where I don’t pinch myself and acknowledge how lucky I’ve been. I’m not talking about a career or an investment portfolio, or how big the steelhead was that I caught last summer. I’m talking about the people I’ve been fortunate to meet because of the Katz Roadshow: the carpenters and contractors; the manufacturers—marketing, production, and sales representatives; and especially the folks at the lumberyards we work with.

Sanford & Hawley is a perfect example.

(Note: Click any image to enlarge)

We drove into Farmington, CT not knowing what to expect—this was a first-time host location. On the way into town we spotted their sign along the roadway, and a wide driveway leading down to a collection of large pole-barns. Our GPS said the yard was a couple miles further, but we figured we’d take a look.

A young kid—maybe sixteen or seventeen, wearing a baseball cap, on a forklift, moving pallets around in one of the open-air warehouses, stopped his machine, jumped off and asked if we needed help. It turned out he was the youngest family member working at the yard: Bobby Sanford. Bobby gave us a quick tour of their storage area before rushing off to change clothes for the Preshow Meeting. The next time we saw him, Bobby was all cleaned up and wearing a company shirt.

Sanford & Hawley has been caring for customers since 1884, and from the same location—the confluence of Roaring Brook and Farmington River. The color of the store hasn’t changed—barn red, and neither has the enthusiasm and dedication of the family team and their employees. Each of the folks at the lumberyard are devoted to the industry—every year they attend educational seminars on new building products, new management techniques. This is a company that never stops evolving. They’re not only preserving a family legacy, but more importantly, they’re protecting their customers.

The oldest business in town, having survived fires and floods—it’s currently managed by Frank, Bob, and Edmond Sanford, while Bobby and Jon are working their way up the hard way.

It may seem crazy, but it’s true. Lumberyards like Sanford & Hawley are perhaps the last reminder of what America once was—before strip malls, fast-food franchises, and the internet—a country where businesses were family-owned for generations, and generations of customers were like family, too.


6 Responses to “Sanford & Hawley: A Family Tradition”

  1. Emanuel

    Awesome story and video. Great to see this lumber yard still running with dedicated people. These are the lumber yards that I enjoy going to for materials and knowledge.

    Thanks for sharing Gary:)


  2. Kirby Dolak

    Nice snapshot of a family, a business and American traditions all wrapped into one. Nice episode.

  3. William Goodwin

    I’ve been dealing with Sandford and Hawley for a number of years now. They are truly an incredible company where quality of materials and service is something you can count on. I shop mainly in their West Springfield location where Dave and Rick along with Will and Greg in the yard take good care of me. The same quality and service exists at all locations. There are not many of these type of lumber businesses around these days and their numbers are dwindling. I feel fortunate to have them in my town.

  4. John Dubrowin Human Resources Director

    I have to tell you as a 24 year veteran employee of Sanford & Hawley that the values the Sanford’s place on their customers transfers to their employees as well. I have worn many hats in this company over the years and i have seen and experienced a great many things but the most remarkable that speaks of the internal workings of the company is that on average over 60% of our employees have been with this company for over five years. In this day and age that is remarkable. Day in and day out everyone’s dedication and contribution is outstanding.

  5. Jim Restin

    It is good to see that you are still on the road and enthralled by the remaining evidence of a work ethic which embodies so much more than the bottom line. Keep it up Gary. You have taught me a lot.

  6. robert hughes

    I would also like to acknowledge the Manchester branch as always giving excellent service. John, Rob, Joe and Bill are knowledgeable and helpful. The outside crew keeps the yard immaculate and deliveries are always on time.


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