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.
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.